Dundee Comics Prize competition returns with superhero theme

In 1944 The Dandy introduced a home-grown British superhero – The Amazing Mr X, who appeared in 14 instalments between 1944 and 1945.

Drawn by DC Thomson staff artist Jack Glass, the The Amazing Mr X made a brief reappearance in The Dandy annual in 1962, drawn by Dudley D. Watkins — but since then, he has been all but forgotten.

Now the University of Dundee, in partnership with DC Thomson, is giving comic creators the opportunity to bring the character back to life, re-interpreting the character for the 21st century!

The challenge to recreate one of Britain’s first superheroes (DC Thomson actually created other characters that could be regarded as superheroes earlier than Mr X) is the focus of the Second Annual Dundee Comics Prize.

Entries should consist of a two – three page origin story and a cover image featuring your interpretation of this classic British superhero.

The first prize is £500, plus publication of the story in The Sunday Post and in the Dundee University publication Anthology, which showcases new work by up-and-coming comics creators. There will also be two runner-up prizes of £250 each.

The deadline for completed submissions is 1st October 2012. The work will be judged by a panel consisting of comic professionals and scholars, with the announcement being made at the Dundee Comic Day on 28th October 2012.

Winners and runner-ups will be invited to attend. There will also be an exhibition of artwork from the competition at Comic Day.

Mr X was the alter ego for private enquiry agent Len Manners who dons “a queer costume, black skin-tight trousers and white jersey” and uses amazing strength that he can “summon at will” to fight crime.

Former Dandy editor Morris Heggie has described Mr. X as “The closest we’ve ever had to a super hero”. However, he also admits that “His arch nemeses weren’t glamorous…. He would chase people who stole lead from roofs and other small time crooks.”

The character is actually one of several ill-fated superhero characters we’re told DC Thomson has considered reviving in the past. These also include the mysterious Captain Hornet, The Comet, Captain Q, Danger Man, the Flaming Avenger (who appeared in Rover back in 1933), King Kobra (drawn by Ron Smith, he appeared in Hotspur back in 1976), Tarzan imitator Morgyn the Mighty, Red Star Robinson, the Scarlet Hawk (who fought crime from a secret base in Dorset) the Supercats (first appearing in girls comic Spellbound), Spring-Heeled Jack and Zogg the Wizard.

The company even had its own version of Supergirl, although we suspect a certain very large US comics company might have a few things to say if they tried to re-publish her…

Image © DC Thomson

The aim of the Dundee Comics Prize is to nurture talent in comics, and to help new creators gain recognition. Anyone can enter the competition, and the submission can be in any style, in black or white or colour, but the work must be finished to a high standard (lettered, inked, etc), and it must be a complete story. The work must be original, the creators must own the copyright, and it must not have been published already, or currently offered for publication elsewhere. When submitting work good quality scans are requested in the first instance, although original artwork may be requested at a later stage (although will remain the property of the creators).

The prize is awarded to the creator or team who produce the work. If the work is collaborative the members of the team will share the prize money equally. All winners (including runners-up) will be asked to provide a short account of how the comic was created, along with any relevant photos and sketches. These will be used on the website and in the exhibition and publications to demonstrate how the winning entries came about.

Artwork will also be required on a short loan for the purposes of an exhibition. The decision of the judging panel is final, and DC Thomson reserves control over what is published, how it is presented, and in what format, in their publications.

• There’s a feature on The Amazing Mr X in the the Art and History of The Dandy book

• Further information about The Amazing Mr X is available at http://www.v14.co.uk/misterx/ and via two pages from The Amazing Mr X:

• Please also read the Rules and Guidelines for the prize.  A flyer about the prize is available for printing and display.

• All queries and submissions should be sent to Dr Chris Murray, University of Dundee, at dundeecomicsprize@gmail.com

Related Information

(With thanks to Jeremy Briggs for the heads up on this item)

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