New Book charts the history of British “Big 5” comic “The Wizard”

This Was Wizard

This Was The Wizard, a 264-page, perfect-bound A4 book has just been published by Darsym Press. Written by Derek Marsden (author of Free Gifts in the Big Five) and Ray Moore, their book is a thorough survey of the content of the first incarnation of one of DC Thomson’s “Big Five” adventure comics, The Wizard between Issue 1 in 1922 and Issue 1970 in 1963.

The Wizard was launched as a weekly British story paper on 23rd September 1922 and published by DC Thomson and its best known characters include “The Wolf of Kabul”, the stories of Bill Samson, an agent of the British Intelligence Corps on the Northwest Frontier (“The Wolf” also featured in the early issues of Buddy at the beginning of the 1980s). Also in the line up was “Wilson the Wonder Athlete” (later revived as “The Man in Black” in Spike in the 1980s), regarded by many as the prototype of astonishing sporting prodigies so popular in British comics such as Alf Tupper, Roy of the Rovers and “The Wild Wonders”.


The opening page of an early "Wolf of Kabul" text story featuring Bill Sampson and sidekick Chung, who made devastating use of a cricket bat, which he called "clicky-ba"

The opening page of an early “Wolf of Kabul” text story featuring Bill Sampson and sidekick Chung, who made devastating use of a cricket bat, which he called “clicky-ba”. You can read a full “Wolf of Kabul” story on the British Comics web site here


After its original and hugely successful run spanning over four decades The Wizard was merged with The Rover in September 1963, becoming Rover and Wizard, and renamed The Rover in August 1969. The Wizard was relaunched on 14 February 1970, and continued until 24 June 1978.

Combined, both runs total 2405 regular issues.


A page from a "Wilson the Wonder Athlete" text story. "Seeker of Champions", published in 1946.

A page from a “Wilson the Wonder Athlete” text story. “Seeker of Champions”, published in 1946.


This Was The Wizard details the comic’s first run serials, the completes, the cartoons, the free gifts, the annuals, some flyers, and ten pages of representative covers across its history – 120 covers in all.

Also included are a 62-page review of the serial story content, with biographies of the editors and principal contributors of the artwork, a Quick Guide to stories featuring the key characters, a Bibliography of Works Consulted, and an alphabetical Index Of Serials.

Distributed by Bertrams, the book is available through all good bookshops and copies will be on sale in 30th Century Comics in Putney from next Saturday, and Border Bookshop in Todmorden, Lancashire, from a week on Friday. (Both these shops carry back issues of British comics).

Liverpool-based Derek is also the author of Free Gifts In The Big Five, which features a listing, with comment, of every supplement issued with the story papers of DC Thomson and Co, Ltd, between 1921 and 1973. This work – much praised by British comics creator and archivist Lew Stringer – includes 48 pages of illustrations of adverts and gifts and a limited number of copies are still available.

This Was The Wizard by Derek Marsden and Ray Moore costs £25 and can be ordered through all good bookshops worldwide (ISBN 978-0955197819)

Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Books, downthetubes Comics News

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