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Fleetway frolics.

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  • Fleetway frolics.

    Word reaches me that a clutch of classic British comics characters are about to be revived by Alan Moore, initially in a four-issue series called Albion from DC's WildStorm imprint. Apparently IPC (which absorbed or transformed from Fleetway Publications in the year dot, if memory serves) is now owned by Time-Warner, which also owns IPC, so...

    In retrospect, there was some really rather weird shit going down in the pages of comics such as Lion and Valiant during their 60s heyday, with anti-heroes seemingly being the norm rather than conventional square-jawed do-gooders. We had a vaguely demonic-looking escapologist (Janus Stark), a giant robot ape (Mytek the Mighty), a man with a spooky jewel implanted in his chest (Kelly's Eye) and a completely inarticulate robot (Robot Archie - although I think he actually got given a voice eventually) and even an out-and-out criminal (The Spider). As for Jason Hyde - let's not even go there...

    I may well have got some of the above muddled, but of course, MM, you wrote lots of scripts for comics around this time, did you not? I know you did some Skid Solo stories and many others - did you ever have a hand in any of the aforementioned? The ambivalent, slightly dark nature of many of these characters now seems to be ahead of its time in comparison with the anodyne stuff that passed elsewhere/elsewhen.

  • #2
    I think I wrote for all of them. The Spider was actually a villain, as I recall, though the stories focussed on him. I think Barry Bayley was the main writer of Janus Stark (could have been his character, in fact).
    I did some Kelly's Eye and I might have come up with Mytek the Mighty.
    Robot Archie was the oldest character, going back to text stories, I'm pretty sure, in The Champion, the very last Fleetway text story paper, which I read until its very last issue. Are you sure Time Warner owns IPC -- publishers of the Daily Mirror ? Hard to believe. Maybe they'd let me revive the original Zenith the Albino, if Alan's doing the others ?
    Maybe Alan could talk Wildstorm into us collaborating on Zenith ?
    Hmmm.... There's a good idea there.

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    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
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    • #3
      Come to think of it IPC don't own Zenith and Co. The SextonBlake villains were all the property of their original creators and many are now in the public domain. Eeek! What a temptation!

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

      Comment


      • #4
        Looks like I just missed out on a golden age of British kids comics. By the time I started reading them in the early 70s the British Marvel reprints were being produced and they blew most UK comics out of the water.

        All this talk of Fleetway makes me want to dig out my copy of Printer's Devil/The Russian Intelligence and read it again, which I haven't done for many years. How accurate a portrayal of your experiences at Fleetway was that book Mike?
        'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

        Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
          I think I wrote for all of them. The Spider was actually a villain, as I recall, though the stories focussed on him. I think Barry Bayley was the main writer of Janus Stark (could have been his character, in fact).
          I did some Kelly's Eye and I might have come up with Mytek the Mighty.
          Robot Archie was the oldest character, going back to text stories, I'm pretty sure, in The Champion, the very last Fleetway text story paper, which I read until its very last issue. ...
          Really?!! Now I really am impressed! :D

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          • #6
            In retrospect I thought I detected what could have been the Moorcock stamp over much of this material - and I'd forgotten that BJB had also worked in this field. How he these days?

            My source for all of this is the latest (Feb. 2005) issue of SFX magazine, which I'm sure is known to you , MM, as they must have 'done' you at some point. Unfortunately the feature on the subject didn't spill over onto the website (www.sfx.co.uk), but maybe the magazine's available in Texas?! If not, I could certainly mail one if you'd like to catch up with what they plan to do with your babies (well, they all possess a liberal sprinkling of your genes, anyway).

            To anyone who knows it not, by the way (particularly non-UK types) I highly recommend SFX as a literate, lively and lucid magazine about (mainly) popular sf/fantasy. It's thoroughly English in its un-dumbness and often self-deprecating humour and is the only way to keep up with mainstream sf and fantasy across all media without gagging on hype or fanboyism. And no, I don't write for SFX! That said, there's something I'd like to place there later in the year, so...

            The Return of Zenith! Gotta be, innit? Incidentally, all sorts of interesting stuff has recenlty come out of copyright in the field of music, too - you could do 'Zenith Meets Elgar' - a not impossible idea, y'know!

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            • #7
              I used to get SFX free, but they stopped sending it with a new policy of cutting back on free copies! I wouldn't mind seeing a xerox of the piece, if that's possible, but I wouldn't want anyone to buy a copy. I'll see if I can check it out next time I'm in Austin. I'm trying to remember the name of the American artist who drew (and I think created) The Spider. I know he'd been associated with some of the best US comics.
              A lot of Americans were coming over in the sixties because Fleetway paid much better rates than the US rates. I think they've evened up a bit since then, thanks to agitation by the American creators! Some of us even get royalties on our sales! With Fleetway you couldn't put the cheque into your bank until you'd signed the back, giving them all rights. This was a familiar process, both in the UK and US, until around 1970 and my guess is that it went on at IPC.
              What I'm really curious about is if Time-Warner, who own DC and are a very good firm to work with in my experience, actually own IPC and the Daily Mirror! That would be astonishing.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Zax
                And no, I don't write for SFX! That said, there's something I'd like to place there later in the year, so...
                I used to work on a zine with a chap who became quite a big wheel at SFX... the chap who designed our university magazine also went to work for them in Bath. They have my CV on file and will consider me for any future posts that arise... of course, it's been four years since they filed it... I wonder if they lost it down the back of a sofa? :(

                Bitterness and envy aside, it is a very shiny magazine.

                Does anyone else remember the 2000AD special where they revived many of the characters mentioned above? In the 90s, maybe? I remember The Spider especially. I probably don't have it now, after a massive clear out several years ago, so I can't be any more specific than that. Sorry.
                "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Zax
                  And no, I don't write for SFX! That said, there's something I'd like to place there later in the year, so...
                  I used to work on a zine with a chap who became quite a big wheel at SFX... the chap who designed our university magazine also went to work for them in Bath. They have my CV on file and will consider me for any future posts that arise... of course, it's been four years since they filed it... I wonder if they lost it down the back of a sofa? :(

                  Bitterness and envy aside, it is a very shiny magazine.

                  Does anyone else remember the 2000AD special where they revived many of the characters mentioned above? In the 90s, maybe? I remember The Spider especially. I probably don't have it now, after a massive clear out several years ago, so I can't be any more specific than that. Sorry.
                  "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I bought a copy of a Dutch Robot Archie story, today. 'Archie de Man van Staal - in de Ijstijd'. Bert Bus, the Dutch artist who took over the strips in the Seventies, was there and signed it for me!
                    Attached Files

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                    • #12
                      Wayflete!
                      'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

                      Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Michael Moorcock View Post
                        Come to think of it IPC don't own Zenith and Co. The SextonBlake villains were all the property of their original creators and many are now in the public domain. Eeek! What a temptation!
                        You write, I'll buy! We got us a deal, pardner?
                        sigpic Myself as Mephistopheles (Karen Koed's painting of me, 9 Nov 2008, U of Canterbury, CHCH, NZ)

                        Gold is the power of a man with a man
                        And incense the power of man with God
                        But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
                        And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod,

                        Nativity,
                        by Peter Cape

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                        • #14
                          That wonderful character, Grimly Feendish, whom I remember from my childhood, appeared ( amomg others ) in Albion as a thoroughly loathsome thing !!! Damn Alan Moore, I'm traumatized !!!


                          , [Ok Emerson ...oot the motor !!!!

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            At the weekend, I found a hardbacked book of the best of the 1960s Eagle comics (published just last year) for 50p at a summer fete. Lovely book, though it gives only a flavour of what the comic was all about I suppose. I know it wasn't Fleetway but it did merge with Boys World, and I remember reading Mike that you and Barry B. wanted to write for Dan Dare at one point. So a vaguely Moorcockian connection there. There was one article on How To Build Up Your Own (model) Army - shades of TA . Also, a quite accurate prediction of PCs in the 1990s - 'A World of Knowledge At Your Fingertips'. Interesting stuff all round.

                            On the subject of Fleetway proper, I found a 1959 Lion Annual I have and every story and picture strip carries a writer credit. I'm just wondering when Fleetway stopped crediting writers, and the reasons for it?
                            'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

                            Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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