The Return of Captain Babylon!

Captain Babylon, created by John Freeman and Matt Bingham, art by Matt Bingham
Captain Babylon, created by John Freeman and Matt Bingham, art by Matt Bingham

Many, many years ago, when I was starting out in British comics, designer Matthew Bingham and I came up with a spoof version of Captain Britain called Captain Babylon. Nothing very interesting in that, you might think, except this particular spoof had a helping hand from none other than Marvel UK’s top letterer at the time (and now Chief Tiger at Active Images) Richard Starkings, who very kindly lettered his adventures in the fanzine I published called SCAN* (whose tiny subscriber base included Alan Moore and other comics luminaries).

The character has taken on a life of its own down the years, with many Captain Britain fans mistakenly citing Babylon as part of official Marvel continuity, partly, I suspect, because several MUK personnel and creators pitched in with contributions to SCAN over several issues, including writer John Tomlinson and artists Kev Hopgood and Mike Collins.

Suffice to say, I haven’t thought much about the character for many years, until US writer and continuity guru Michael Norwitz – also a contributor to the official Marvel Universe project and whose online credits include annotations for Marvelman/Miracleman – got in touch recently asking if he could use Babylon and some of the other SCAN ‘Captains’ (such as Captain Politically Aware and Captain Ethnic Stereoptype) in a “Merlin’s Corps” fan story, a fan tribute to the Captain Britains of many parallel Earths.

Well, we threw some ideas around the ether and now the story has been published, for better or worse, as one of several Merlin’s Corps adventures now online, and bless Michael’s heart, he’s even given me a co-credit.

So, if you fancy finding out what happens when Captain Babylon goes up against Arcade in an all-new text adventure, click here to read “The World of /Dev/Null-A” …

* The comics ‘zine SCAN I edited is in no way connected with the student newspaper of the same name at Lancaster University (which I also edited for a year), but the editors there never realised what we were up to!

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. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek 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.



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