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Friday, December 28, 2018

The End of Skid Solo! (1982) - Updated!

Compared to its stablemates Action, 2000AD, and Battle, the long-running Tiger comic was quite gentle and lighthearted in its storylines. It was therefore more of a shock when we read of the fate of Skid Solo in his final story. 

Skid Solo had begun in Hurricane comic in 1964. The story of the fictional racing driver proved to be a hit with readers and was carried over to Tiger when the two comics merged in 1965. When Tiger upgraded its printing from newsprint to web offset in 1969 it offered artists the opportunity to embellish their stories with a grey wash (diluted black ink) - or full colour painting if they appeared on the colour pages. Skid Solo's artist John Vernon excelled at both wash and colour techniques and produced some very nice pages. 

By 1982, Tiger was being readied for a revamp, replacing some older characters with new ones. Sadly, Skid Solo was one of those for the chop after an impressive 18 year run. Usually, when stories in Tiger came to an end they'd finish on a happy note, status quo restored, and with the heroes optimistic for their futures. 

Not so for Skid Solo! 

Perhaps the writing had been on the wall months before, when one of Skid's co-stars, Sparrow Smith, had been killed in a crash. A portent of things to come. 

The 1st May 1982 issue of Tiger featured the final Skid Solo story. Written by Fred Baker, drawn by John Vernon, the regular team. It left me stunned when I read it back then, and I was 23 at the time! I wondered how 8 year olds would find it. Here's the story...

I think the most disturbing thing about that ending isn't the crash itself, but that we never see Skid Solo's face again after the accident. The extent of his injuries aren't revealed to us, and it's left to our imaginations. It really was a powerful and unexpected ending for such a long-running character, and one that certainly won't be forgotten. Thanks to Fred Baker and John Vernon for such a memorable series!

UPDATE: I'm very grateful to blog reader Stephen West for providing some more info about Skid Solo. A few weeks after that final episode it seems that readers had been voicing their concerns to the Tiger editor Paul Gettens as acknowledged in his editorial...
The following issue saw a one page feature on Skid Solo, with an editorial update that "two months after the accident... doctors have said that Skid WILL walk again, but will have a limp. However, he won't be able to compete in Grand Prix racing for a long time". 

A way to placate upset readers, hopefully, and it lessens the harshness of that ending, but I like to think that it's up to the individual reader to choose whether to accept it or not. 

Stephen West also supplied some background info on Skid Solo, so here it is:

A few pieces of Skid Solo trivia:

  • Skid’s first name is Edward (Hurricane 07/03/1964 – 2nd episode) I don’t believe that it is ever mentioned again.
  • Skid originally lived with his Aunt Mabel, the character was quietly dropped from the strip around the time that it transferred to Tiger in May 1965.
  • Skid became a Grand Prix Champion for the first time. (Tiger 22/10/1966)
  • Tiger sponsored Skid Solo - a Tiger head logo featured on the front of his racing cars thereafter (Tiger 28/03/1970)
  • Skid was awarded an OBE (Tiger 05/10/1974)
  • Skid met and raced with Stirling Moss (Tiger 14/02/1981 - 19/09/1981)

My thanks again to Stephen for the information!


Peter Gray said...

Wow! Do share post at my facebook comic fansite...

Was a very sober ending!

SID said...

I used to regularly read Tiger around that time and forgot all about how Skid finished. Quite a sad end and possibly abrupt? Almost as if there was a snap decision to get rid of the story and things were quickly wrapped up.

Little Peanut said...

A sad ending indeed... but, wow. I was quite impressed.

Lew Stringer said...

A brave move to end it like that, I think. SID, someone reminded me that a few issues before, Skid had a vision of his deceased pal Sparrow Smith. Perhaps an omen of things to come?

C_Oliver said...

A surprisingly sad and sudden end -- though poor Skid still fared better than the heroes of the long-running sports manga 'Tomorrow Joe' (boxing) and 'Tiger Mask' (wrestling), who both died at the end of their strips.

Lew Stringer said...

I've never heard of those, but Manga can be quite brutal so perhaps those endings were not that unexpected?

John Kerry said...

I read that issue when it came out. Oddly enough it didn't affect me that much. Possibly the fact I was used to tragic accidents in motor racing had something to do with it. I was a bit sad, as Skid Solo was a favourite of mine, but felt it was a fitting end.

Unknown said...

Nooooooo! Ok I'm horrified nearly 40 years later than the story was published, but I hadn't realised how Skid's story ended. I'd read Tiger as a lad but left and went with Roy for a while when he decamped to his own comic and then jumped completely onto the Action/2000AD pirate ship.

Still describe boy racers as doing a "Skid Solo" as they zip past our family saloon, none of the family has amy idea what I'm talking about, but at least I still remember the character with fondness.

This was a bleak ending for the character. What next Lew, you going to tell me that the Tiger editor had a rush of blood to the head after I stopped reading and wiped out a host of characters? Was Johny Cougar forced to give up wrestling because of an horrific ring mishap? Martin's marvellous mini was stolen and left burnt out on some wasteland?

Good post Lew, happy new year

Lew Stringer said...

No, but now Rebellion own the characters who knows what might happen to them if they're revived in 2000AD? :)

Happy New Year, Caz!

John Kerry said...

Wonder if there's a market for a series of Skid Solo compilations. That would be nice.

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