Friday, October 21, 2016

More early work by Dave Gibbons (1976)

Concluding my look back at strips from 40 years ago, here are some examples of strips drawn by Dave Gibbons for the D.C. Thomson comics. The visual storytelling skills and dynamism of Dave's work was evident even then, and it was inevitable that he'd go far, as indeed he did. 

The Spy in the Sputnik was a typical D.C. Thomson yarn, improved considerably by having Dave Gibbons as the artist. It ran in Hotspur from the issues dated September 11th 1976 to October 30th 1976. Although it only a very short-lived series (8 episodes) it was awarded the cover slot from the first episode. 

During this period, Hotspur's editor implemented the baffling practice of moving the toplines (that traditionally ran across the top of each story page) to big flashes slapped in the middle of the artwork. This strange idea was very distracting and took the reader out of the story. (It was one reason I stopped buying Hotspur in the mid-1970s so I never saw these strips until I bought the comics on eBay recently.)

After The Spy in the Sputnik, Dave's next published serial for D.C. Thomson was The Flying Tripehound for The Wizard. Thankfully, a comic that kept the toplines at the top. Here are the first two episodes from December 1976. (A "tripehound" was aviation slang, and not the abusive term it is today.)

A while back, on the Comics UK Forum, comic historian Ray Moore kindly provided a list of Dave's strips for these comics. I've shown examples of the Simon Gaunt stories and Year of the Shark Men on this blog in the past (check out the links after this list). 

"Dave Gibbons full list of work for Wizard is as follows:

The Wriggling Wrecker 20/7/74 - 21/9/74
The Year of the Shark Men 24/4/76 - 10/7/76
The Deathless Army (Simon Gaunt mystery story) 14/8/76
The Last Torpedo (Simon Gaunt mystery story) 28/8/76
The Flying Tripehound 18/12/76 - 12/2/77
Cat and Mouse 13/8/77 - 8/10/77
Cat and Mouse 3/12/77, 17/12/77, 24/12/77

He also did occasional work for Hotspur inc

The Spy in the Sputnik 882(11/9/76) - 889(30/10/76)"

Ten years after these strips were published, Dave would be at the top of his game illustrating Watchmen, one of the greatest graphic novels in the history of comics.

NOTE: Interestingly, The Spy in the Sputnik was actually a redrawn / revised version of a strip that Ian Kennedy had drawn several years earlier. Colin Noble has the details on his blog:


Tony Howson said...

Another fine and illuminating post, Lew. I never knew Mr Gibbons had work in the Hotspur - but I was too distracted by the US scene in those days. My loss in hindsight, as those pages you show look very nice. I was vaguely aware of his South African Power Man strips but, for all I knew, he arrived fully formed with the Harlem Heroes

More importantly though, I had no idea that tripe hound was a term of abuse until a few minutes ago (and then, like a fool, I Googled it). I always associate it with The Beano - isn't Gnasher an Abyssinian Wire Haired Tripe Hound? Or have I fallen for another urban myth?

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, that's the breed. :)

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