Cutaway Magic with Robot Archie!

Ever wondered what makes a robot tick? Well, ponder no more! Here’s a smashing image revealing the innards of Robot Archie, a favourite vintage mechanical marvel from Lion comic.

This art by Dutch “Robot Archie” artist Bert Bus forms the cover of the Treasury of British Comics webshop exclusive edition of the new Robot Archie and the Time Machine collection, available here, on sale from 23rd May 2024, and surely it answers all your questions!

Robot Archie and the Time Machine - Hardback Webshop Exclusive Cover

This 144-page collection from Rebellion, introduced by comics writer John Reppion, features some classic tales written by Ted Cowan with art by Ted Kearon, and two Lion Holiday Special strips, one drawn by Mike Western, the other artist unidentified, along with associated Lion covers, most clearly drawn by Mike. The adventures were first published in the 1960s, when various British strips sought to emulate the success of Doctor Who on TV with their own time travel tales.

Pre-order your copy of the regular edition now! (AmazonUK Affiliate Link), or the Treasury of British Comics webshop exclusive hardback edition here

Originally built by Professor C.R. Ritchie, the mechanical being known as Robot Archie was employed to battle injustices around the world, particularly in the jungles of Africa and South America.

Despite the character’s huge popularity, these early stories have long been considered unfavourably for their depiction of indigenous peoples of, for example, Africa and the Middle East, and are unlikely to be reprinted, unless with suitable, cautionary framing, Rebellion instead choosing to begin its collections with the strip’s most memorable storyline.

In these tales, the automated action hero has worked with the Professor to create ‘The Castle’ – a fully-functioning time machine! Together with the Professor’s nephew, Ted Ritchie and his best friend Ken Dale, Archie is ready to embark on a journey through time that will bring him into conflicts with medieval knights and a terrifying, dystopian future where aliens have conquered the Earth!

This collection features the archive stories, “Robot Archie’s Time Machine” originally printed in Lion, cover dated 20th April 1968 – 29th June 1968; “The Superons” (6th July 1968 – 2nd November 1968); “Time Traveller” (9th November 1968 – 11th January 1969); and the “Robot Archie” stories originally published in Lion & Valiant Special Extra! 1969, and Lion Summer Special 1970.

Robot Archie and the Time Machine (Rebellion, 2024)
Robot Archie and the Time Machine (Rebellion, 2024) - Sample Strip
Robot Archie and the Time Machine (Rebellion, 2024) - Sample Strip
Robot Archie and the Time Machine (Rebellion, 2024) - Sample Strip

Before entering the comic industry, Ted Cowan worked as a lab assistant at Shell-Mex then enlisted into the World War Two broke out. Forced to re-enlist with the army after a crash, he became a dispatch rider, but another accident saw an end to his career in the services. After picking up a comic and being unimpressed by the writing inside, Cowan wrote to Stan Boddington, then editor of Champion. Boddington gave him a chance and Cowan started on “Ginger Nutt” – a successful strip about a young Australian boy, which ran for almost seven years.

Cowan’s next strip, “The Jungle Robot”, appeared in the first issue of Lion. Many adventures featuring Robot Archie were to follow, throughout the comic’s long run, into the 1970s.

While working for Lion, Cowan scripted many popular strips including “Paddy Payne”, “Adam Eterno” (who debuted in the short-lived Thunder), and, of course, “The Spider” which he co-created and wrote the first two complete stories for.

Robot Archie versus the Superions - art by Ted Kearon
Original art from “Robot Archie – The Superons”, sold on Catawiki

Ted Kearon was a prolific artist who contributed many strips to IPC, particularly in the 1950s. Best known for co-creating Robot Archie for Lion in 1952, he also illustrated “Zip Nolan”, “The Day the World Drowned” and “Steel Commando”. Kearon also provided strips for DC Thomson, including “Morgyn the Mighty” for The Victor.

Widely regarded as one of the best artists to ever grace the British comic industry, Mike Western, who created the Lion covers featured in this collection, began his career on Knockout, having already spent time working for GB Animation. During the 1950s he shared art chores with Eric Bradbury on the popular western strip “Lucky Logan”. In 1960 he moved onto TV Express where he drew “No Hiding Place” and “Biggles”. Buster and Valiant followed, where Mike found himself drawing long-running strips such as “The Wild Wonders”.

In the 1970s he was very prolific, illustrating Buster‘s “Leopard from Lime Street” and several key strips for Battle, including “Darkie’s Mob”, “The Sarge” and “HMS Nightshade”. Mike also made an impact on the iconic Roy of the Rovers, illustrating the newspaper strip which ran in the Daily Star during the 1990s.

His son, the award-winning Peter Western, followed in his father’s footsteps as an artist, as an illustrator and animator, and drawing strips for The77 Publications’ Blazer title, and more.

Pre-order your copy of the regular edition of Robot Archie and the Time Machine now (AmazonUK Affiliate Link) |ISBN 978-1837861699

Order the Treasury of British Comics webshop exclusive hardback edition here

Further Reading…

Treasury of British Comics Archive Feature: From robot servant to acid house: the fantastical life of Robot Archie

Back in 2021, Hibernia Comics publisher David McDonald explored the life and exploits of the world’s most powerful mechanical man. (Be advised, some of the images on this post contain offensive and outdated stereotypes, and are included for the purposes of historical interest)

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, British Comics - Current British Publishers, Comic Previews, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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3 replies

  1. That cutaway sure looks like the work of Dutch legendary artist, Bert Bus.

    Bus drew several new adventures for Archie when the UK supply ran dry.


    • It is indeed by Bert – I missed the credit in the collection first time around, but sat down to read it yesterday and spotted the acknowledgment. I’ve updated the item accordingly.


  1. Creating Comics: Revisiting the original Robot Archie, by E. George Cowan and Alan Philpott –

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