Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Umbrella Men (1965)

One of my favourite adventure strips as a child was The Umbrella Men, illustrated by Charles Grigg, that ran in The Dandy from No.1255 (December 11th 1965) to No.1290 (August 13th 1966). Not a particularly long run, but a very memorable one, and just the right length for a young reader before they grew tired of it. (Time seems slower when you're young, mainly because there are so many new experiences I guess. Every day is an adventure.)

The Dandy had a brilliant knack of taking something ordinary and turning it into something menacing in their adventure strips; a ball (The Crimson Ball), a cactus (The Red Wrecker), bees (The Stinging Swarm), and the humble brolly (The Umbrella Men). It's a wonder we didn't all turn out paranoid! Thankfully, most well-adjusted kids know the difference between fantasy and reality so these strips were just exciting escapism we looked forward to every Monday.

Here are the first two episodes of the serial, from The Dandy Nos.1255 and 1256, way back in December 1965... 






In 2010, for the final issue of The Dandy, (No.3610, 8th December 2012), the comic revived a lot of old characters for one last appearance, and I had the honour of writing and drawing The Umbrella Men as a not-too-serious final mini-strip...

  

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the whole series collected in a hardback book.

Lew Stringer said...

Not likely to happen, unfortunately.

jock123 said...

Don’t remember the umbrella men, but those adventure strips were great - although I may have seen them in things like “The Beano”, as for a large part of the middle sixties I was too young to read… I liked the one about the purple metal eating cloud (which was called, I think, “The Purple Cloud”), and one about an island with giant crabs on it (I’d be sticking my neck out to say that it was called “The Island with Giant Crabs on It”…).
Sad if they can’t be collected some day…

Lew Stringer said...

Close. You're thinking of The Island of Monsters that was in The Dandy in 1969. The Purple Cloud was in the comic in 1968, but that was a reprint from 1961.

Lew Stringer said...

I think they'd make great children's books but Thomsons don't seem interested in doing it. The concern is that there just isn't a big enough market for collections of classic material like that. They do the Dandy/Beano anthology every year, but that's it.

SID said...

That's one of the reasons why I always preferred The Dandy over The Beano - it's highly imaginative stories.

Love the festive banner btw.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, Sid. I preferred Dandy too. Beano also had adventure strips of course, but they didn't seem to have the same element of danger to the public that the Dandy's did, so felt less exciting.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Wow. I've never seen this before given I'm from Chicago but the first thing it made me wonder was if there was some "cross pollination " with "The Flying Hockey Stick."

Steve M said...

Fantastic strip. I'd heard about it but don't think I'd seen them before.

I love the sinister element from the subverting of 'respectable' men with brolleys and bowler hats. And I guess it owed a little to Steed andthe Avengers.

It would be great if they featured them in the Christmas Beano/ Dandy book.

Robert Carnegie said...

In the stories you showed... it seems that they could be inconspicuous, but they aren't, what with flying around in the sky instead of catching the train to the city every day. Were they also shown doing the latter? Disappearing in the crowd of commuting Reginald Perrins and Tom Goods?

Lew Stringer said...

I don't think so, Robert. I think we only saw them in action, but I don't have many of the strips now. I think it was just chosen as a memorable image to use, to depict them as city businessmen flying through the air.

Lew Stringer said...

I think a reprint of one episode has appeared in one of the books, Steve, or in a special. I could be mistaken, though.

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