Saturday, February 19, 2011
Changes at the Daily Mirror: Scorer ends, Garth returns (UPDATE)
It's all change for the Daily Mirror's comic strip page on Monday as the classic strip Garth makes its welcome return. The humour strip Simon's Cat, by Simon Tofield, also comes to the Mirror that day. To facilitate the new arrivals, the long-running football strip Scorer ends today.
Garth ran in the paper from 1943 to 1997 and according to the Mirror's website it's being revived due to many requests from the readers. (The same paper brought back The Perishers in a series of selected reprints a while ago.)
Created by cartoonist Steve Dowling, Garth was also illustrated by John Allard, Frank Bellamy, and Martin Asbury over its 54 year run. Three years ago Huw J revived the strip for an online comic book. (See news item here:
Which version of the classic strip will the Mirror reprint? We'll find out on Monday. (Note: See update below.) Chances are it'll be the popular Frank Bellamy version, although my personal favourite was the atmospheric Dowling/Allard era that I grew up with. Here's an example from 1964:
Scorer, written by Barrie Tomlinson and illustrated by David Sque and David Pugh, has been in the paper since 1989. A hybrid of traditional boys' football adventure and saucy seaside postcard humour the lighthearted strip was created by Tomlinson, who was the editor of Tiger and Roy of the Rovers for many years. Today's final episode ends with Ulrika, the girlfriend of the strip's hero Dave Storry, saying they'll live "happily ever after".
Simon's Cat, debuting on Monday, was created by freelance animator Simon Tofield, has been around for some time now, appearing in books and short online cartoons. You can visit the official website here:
UPDATE 21st February 2011:
The Garth story kicking off the reprints is The Angels of Hell's Gap, illustrated by Frank Bellamy, first serialized in the Mirror from 15th January 1975 to 2nd May 1975. If today's example is anything to go by it looks like they'll be running two episodes a day, which of course would speed things along somewhat. If the stories are going to be run in order the next serial will be The Doomsmen, followed by The Bubble Man (currently being reprinted in Spaceship Away).
Reproduction on today's reprint is as good as it can be considering a) it's smaller than the size it was intended for in the seventies, b) it's digitally scanned, and c) paper quality is poorer than it was in 1975. The addition of colour, by Martin Baines, is new and although it might upset some purists I thought it was nicely subtle and helped clarify some details that might otherwise be hard to distinguish in such a small size.
While it's good to see Garth return, and Frank Bellamy work being given an airing for a new generation, it's a shame it comes at the cost of David Tomlinson, David Sque, and David Pugh losing their regular gig on Scorer. With The Perishers also being reprinted is this the future of newspaper strips, - to be recycled instead of commissioning new ventures? Hopefully not, as Simon's Cat is a brand new arrival, so at least that adds some balance.
Personally I'd like to see the strips reproduced larger, as they used to be. There's no reason why they have to all be on one page. (In the 1960s The Flutters, The Larks, and Garth would be on one page, and The Perishers and Andy Capp would be elsewhere in the paper, with gag cartoons Laughter, Playboy, and Useless Eustace scattered on other pages. Of course that's not going to happen again, and with companies cutting back on spending we're lucky to have the current balance of new strips alongside the classics. In that regard, long may Garth enjoy his return to life.