Clearing out one of our bedrooms for decoration, I came across a number of local and national newspapers under the carpet, used back in the 1980s as very cheap underlay. While I was knew newspapers like the the Daily Mirror ran a large number of strips – until editor Piers Morgan ditched most of them – I hadn’t realised quite how important the publishers of the Daily Star once thought they were, too.
More strips ran on a Saturday than a weekday, but luckily examples of both days had been hidden from view along with a page featuring a Bill Caldwell cartoon tat sadly isn’t in great condition, but is a great gag at the expense of football manager Don Revie.
The strips for Saturday 8th December take up a whole page alongside the horoscopes for the day and are “Checkout Girl“, by Les Lilley and Kim Raymond, the latter Paul Hudson‘s indispensable A to Z of British Newspaper Strips informs me was also a character artist for Disney; and “Superman“, published under licence from DC Comics, at a time when the strip enjoyed a brief revival on the back of the success of the Superman films. (The original Superman strip began on 6th January 1939, and a separate Sunday strip was added on 5th November 1939. These strips ran continuously until 1st May 1966 and was revived from 1977 to 1983).
Also on offer is “King Kat” by Graham Allen and Arthur Millington, the pair also the creators of “Pub Dog”, which was running in the Daily Express at around the same time. Lew Stringer tells us Graham was one of the great cartoonists on Wham!, Smash!, and Pow! back in the 1960s, most prominently on “The Nervs” before Ken Reid took over the strip. He also drew lots of stuff for IPC later. Perhaps that’s why, unlike the credits on all the other strips, he is listed first, rather than the writer.
There’s also a comic strip version of the BBC’s long-running “Last of the Summer Wine” by Roy Clarke and Roger Mahoney.
Strangely, despite the longevity of the TV series, the comic strip was not a long-running success, despite the talent involved, although we’re told it was popular enough to have at least one collection, published in 1983.
Finally, on this page, we’re treated to a fine episode of “Judge Dredd“, with art by Ron Smith, delivering an on the nail likeness of “Arthur Daley” in the finale of a two-part story, “Slimey Gums”.
Running in the Daily Star from August 1981 through to 1998 (and in The Metro, in 2004), the strip originally appeared in the form of a single self contained half-page story in the newspaper’s Saturday edition, written by John Wagner and Alan Grant and drawn by Ron Smith. The strip was clearly revelling in its win of Comics’ Adventure Strip Cartoon of the Year, awarded by the The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain.
The 2000AD Fandom site has a guide to the strip here; and a list of all of the ‘Saturday’ Daily Star Judge Dredd stories published from 1981 to 1986 here, and a list of a list of the daily strips which told a continuing story, along with the strip syndication number, where known, here.
Many of the Saturday strips were reprinted in five volumes in the 1980s, and Rebellion has published two collections of some of the dailies as The Daily Dredds: v. 1: 1981-1986, and The Daily Dredds Vol. 2: 1986-1989.
The Saturday strips spilled over onto another page with “Luke Skywally” by Gas Gaskins, the strip’s character very unlike a certain big screen space hero the strip name echoes.
Fewer strips seem to feature in the weekly edition of the Daily Star of the time, although it’s possible “Luke Skywally” also featured, but not every page of these newspaper relics survived being used as underlay!
You’ll be pleased to see that Superman does save Jimmy Olsen… and “The Last of the Summer Wine” continued to be funny!
• The A to Z of British Newspaper Strips by Paul Hudson is available from Book Palace Books now, price £55 | ISBN: 978-1913548247 | Artists and Writers: Numerous | 320 Pages | Also available from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
Rebellion’s first collection of Judge Dredd comic strips from the Daily Star, written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, illustrated by Ron Smith.
This second volume of the Daily Star Dredds features the weekly strips published in the popular national tabloid that ran between July 1986 to the end of 1988, featuring action-packed stories from John Wagner and Alan Grant and sumptuous art from Ian Gibson, Mike Collins and the legendary Ron Smith.
Previous Judge Dredd Collections
• The Judge Dredd Collection (PAJ Publications, 1985) | ISBN: 978-0850379662
• The Judge Dredd Collection 2 (IPC Magazines, 1986) | ISBN: 978-0850376494
The Judge Dredd Collection 3 (IPC Magazines, 1987) | ISBN: 978-1852770365
The Judge Dredd Collection 4 (Fleetway, 1989, some repeats from earlier collections) | ISBN: 978-1853861468
The Judge Dredd Collection 5 (Fleetway Publications, 1990 – one continuous collection of a single daily story) | ISBN: 978-1853862137
• The Judge Dredd Mega Collection (hardback, 1990, Fleetway, Reprints: Judge Dredd weekly strips from the Daily Star, 5th September 1981 – 14th December 1985, with some omissions) | ISBN: 978-1853862144
• Last of the Summer Wine Collection (1983)
ISBN 10: 0850791367 (May not be correct – on Amazon this leads you to the tie-in novel by Roy Clarke)
Cover image with thanks to Lee Grice
• Head to the Illustration Art Gallery web site to check out their catalogue of newspaper strip art, which currently includes examples of Andy Capp, Bristow, The Flutters, George & Lynne, The Greens, Jane, Jeff Hawke, Modesty Blaise, Mr Midge’s Bodyguard, The Perishers, Pop, Terry and Son, and many more
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.