The77 – The Summer Special features a great range of strips from a wide range of comic creators, and we’re thrilled to present, a series of tie-in “Meet the Creator” interviews conducted by Morgan Spiceman with the writers and artists involved in the project.
This time out, it’s a quick chat with Barrie Tomlinson, a much appreciated friend of downthetubes, who joined the world of comics in 1961, as a sub editor on Lion. He then moved to Tiger and eventually became editor. He launched Roy of the Rovers comic in 1976 and became group editor of the Sport and Adventure Department at IPC magazines, launching Speed comic in 1980 and the New Eagle in 1982, Scream in 1984, M.A.S.K. in 1986, the final Fleetway non licensed adventure comic Wildcat in 1988, Ring Raiders in 1989, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in 1990, and Toxic Crusaders in 1992.
Yes, I think you can safely say he’s a man of experience – and we won’t even begin to list all the related annuals and specials he worked on!
After his time on comics, Barrie wrote and produced the Scorer football strip in the Daily Mirror, six days a week, for 22 years, and has written two comic-related books, Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff! and Comic Book Hero: Working with Britain’s Picture Strip Legends – both well worth tracking down.
What is The77 for you?
Barrie Tomlinson: It’s the latest publication I have written for! Well worth reading!
How did you get involved?
Barrie: I saw a Tweet inviting writers to submit material, so I did.
What is your story, “Ghastly United”, about?
Barrie: It combines football and ‘horror’. It makes use of my experiences
on Roy of the Rovers and on Scream!
Barrie: Who are the characters?
A football-mad young lad and the frightening present he received.
Where did you get the idea for the story?
Barrie: My imagination!
What are your hopes for The77?
Barrie: That it will be very successful and I will be able to write for it again.
(I’ve already done a second script, which is Scream-like).
How long have you been writing?
Barrie: 59 years! Next year is my 60th anniversary of working on
the comics. I joined Fleetway Publications in April, 1961.
Who are your favourite writers?
Barrie: Anyone who can entertain me.
What are your favourite comics?
Barrie: Tiger and all the other titles I edited!
Who are your influences?
Barrie: My first editor, Bernard Smith on Lion. He taught me the basics of being an editor. David Gregory was editor of Tiger when I joined the title. He taught me the style of being an editor.
What characters would you love to write?
Barrie: I’ve been very lucky. I’ve written Roy of the Rovers for Today newspaper. Johnny Dexter, the Hard Man, for Roy of the Rovers, Dan Dare for the New Eagle, the intro story for Wildcat, Johnny Cougar for Tiger, Quick on the Draw for Speed, Death Wish for Speed, Tiger and the New Eagle and Scorer for the Daily Mirror. That covers a lot of characters!
Who would you like to work with?
Barrie: Anyone who wants to work with me!
What advice would you have for upcoming writers?
Barrie: Research your subject. Write about what interests you. If it’s a picture-strip, first work out the number of frames, then scribble a couple of sentences about each picture. See if that works out, then do the full script. Don’t give the artist too many instructions, just the basics for each picture description. Let them use their imagination.
Don’t overdo the dialogue and panels. When you’ve finished the script, read through it a few times and amend as necessary. A good writer should also be a good sub editor!
Have you written any books?
Barrie: I’ve had two books published by Pitch Publishing. Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff is all about my time in editorial control of Roy of the Rovers and his merry men of Melchester.
Comic Book Hero is about all the other comics I edited. Both books are packed with photos. Still available online!
I’ve just finished my third book, which is my life story, including more about my time on comics.
Barrie, thanks very much for your time and the best of luck with all your projects!
• Follow Barrie Tomlinson on Twitter @BarrieEditor1 – well worth doing as he often posts some comics nostalgia that proves quite the treat!
A fantastic overview of Roy of the Rovers!
Roy of the Rovers © Rebellion Publishing Ltd