Escapologist crime-fighter, Janus Stark, is back! The Treasury of British Comics has just announced a new special perfect-bound magazine, featuring the first adventures of the rubber-boned Victorian adventurer.
“Behold, Janus Stark! Master of illusion, son of the unknown! No lock can fetter me… no rope or chain can bind my limbs!”
The Incredible Adventures of Janus Stark is a perfect-bound 48-page magazine showcasing one of the forgotten heroes of the heyday of British comics – a rubber-boned Victorian escapologist capable of incredible feats of agility and able to squeeze through the smallest gaps!
The magazine will be available exclusively from the Treasury of British Comics webshop from 27th November 2019, with online pre-orders from 4th November. Early preview copies will be available from the 2000 AD stand at the Thought Bubble convention in Harrogate this weekend (Tables 10-12, Comixology Originals Hall).
This is first in a series of specials from Rebellion bringing classic British heroes out of the archive and back onto the page and follows the company’s acquisition of the vast IPC back catalogue in 2017, creating the world’s biggest archive of English-language comics and encompassing more than a century of comic book publishing.
Janus Stark is an escapologist in Victorian London who appears to be a simple music hall act, but who privately uses his extraordinary abilities to battle crime and injustice. With an unusually flexible bone structure, he’s able him to get out of an astonishing variety of tight situations at will, all the while either dressed in a three-piece suit or with his shirt off – a unique, unusual, and quintessentially British character.
Born in 1840 as Jonas Clarke, he was sent to an orphanage where he was mistreated, but escaped and lived in the streets. There he befriended a beggar, Blind Largo, who taught him pickpocketing but also trained Clarke to use his unique gift. As an adult, Clarke became Janus Stark, escapologist and private detective!
Janus Stark was created by Jack Legrand, written by Tom Tully, with art at various times by Argentinian artists Francisco Fuentes Man, Francisco Solano Lopez and Juan García Quirós, with Tom Kerr filling in on some issues. He’s one of several British characters to develop quite a following abroad.
The Incredible Adventures of Janus Stark collection begins with his very first adventure published in the pages of Smash in 1969. Written by Tom Tully and drawn by Tom Kerr and Francisco Solano López, the series was one of the few to survive Smash’s merger into Valiant in 1971, and the strip continued there until 1973.
It was reprinted in France by publisher Mon Journal in Janus Stark, a comic that also featured other British characters such as Adam Eterno and the Leopard of Lime Street from 1973 to 1989.
After reprinting his English language adventures for three years, the company commissioned new stories of the adventurer between 1982 and 1986. These stories, which have never been published in English, were written by Angus Allan and Scott Goodall.
Based on Angus Allan’s recollections, the first original French story was published in Issue 38, written by Scott Goodall, who killed him off in Issue 89 in May 1986, after heroically saving his friend, Largo, from being crushed to death – and introducing his descendants.
These modern day characters only appeared in Janus Stark Issue 89 and the Janus Stark Special Issue 2.
“Janus Stark is such an interesting character,” notes Oliver Pickles, editor at Rebellion Publishing comments.
“This is a chance to restore his profile as a mainstay of classic British comic characters in the start of this series of affordable collections of his adventures.”