Comics publisher Dez Skinn has uncovered an unusual piece of comics history – a design for Captain Britain by much-admired artist Tom Kerr. The design was intended for a Captain Britain comic Dez proposed to IPC Fleetway over two decades ago, prompting much speculation of “what might have been” had Marvel not firmly established their version of eponymous character.
“Tom’s one of the unsung heroes of British comics,” feels Dez. Kerr’s contributions to British comics include ‘Black Axe’, ‘The Saxon Avenger’ for Buster, ‘The Avengers’ for TV Comic and some early episodes of ‘Adam Eterno’ for Thunder.
“Tom didn’t get the [Captain Britain] gig,” Skinn recalls of Fleetway’s proposed project. “It went (wisely) to Eric Bradbury, whose version still didn’t capture the sense of wonder the US had refined over the years. “
Fleetway’s plans for Captain Britain, codenamed JNP 55 (Juvenile New Project) so DC Thomson wouldn’t know what the company was up to, predated the Marvel UK Captain Britain. “With a Jesus Blasco back up strip and the inevitable football strip accompanying the main story, it went through several versions,” Dez reveals, “with Eric totally redrawing the first two 15-page episodes at [managing editor] Jack LeGrand’s request.
“I kept all the scripts, notes, colour roughs and the like, knowing that one day it should be recorded for posterity, but Tom’s sketch turned up in an unsorted box.”Tom Tully scripted the stories while Jack Potter [was on] lettering, and, naturally, with Gina Hart colouring.”
“I forgot [Kerr] even did a try-out (along with Mike Western and all the other Fleetway regulars),” says Dez, who is currently busy with several projects having relinquished the editorship of Comics International.