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Monday, June 18, 2018

35 years in comics!

It's been 35 years since I sold my first professional cartoon; "What If Iron Man lived up to his name?" It appeared in Marvel UK's The Daredevils No.7, back in June 1983 (cover dated July), under the editorship of Bernie Jaye. Up to that point I'd received rejections from IPC, D.C. Thomson, and even my local paper, but Alan Moore (who was very supportive of new creators) encouraged me to submit stuff to Marvel. I still remember the feeling of excitement upon hearing that they had accepted my work. 

I'd submitted several cartoons on the "What If..?" theme and they used one a month, paying just £5 each, but it was a start! It soon led to work for other Marvel comics, and for other publishers too. I'll always be grateful to Alan Moore for the encouragement and to Bernie Jaye for publishing my first material. 

You never reach "superstar" status in humour comics, like some superhero / sci-fi artists do, but it's been a busy and varied career and I've made a lot of good friends along the way so that's reward enough for me. Although some diverge outside of comics into computer games, storyboarding, advertising, etc, I've managed to make a living exclusively in comics for 35 years, so I count myself very fortunate for that. Thanks to those of you who have bought and supported my work over the years!

If you want to see what I'm up to these days, check out Big Eggo in The Beano, Team Toxic in Toxic, Hygiene High in Epic, and The Daft Dimension in Doctor Who Magazine. PLUS catch up with reprints of my old work in comics such as Combat Colin, available directly from me:

...and 35 years in comics is a good time to start a brand new series of Derek the Troll stories, coming your way this Saturday, 23rd June, in the new online comic Goof! Check it out:

Goof! will be launching at Macc-Pow! on Saturday, so see you there!


Manic Man said...

Never reach 'superstar' status? that is a term that means anyone a company is trying to push that month.. so maybe companies just don't repect there humour artists much? else I could list quite a few humour artists (and writers) who are big names in my book, more or equal to any so called big name non humour ones..

For the time, £5 each for a one panel gag strip in a UK publication which wasn't commissioned job isn't bad. It's a fair price and the foot in the door.

Also reminds me of what I often say to a lot of people I know who are minor time artists and the like, IF you think you can start a career as a 'named' person, you are an idiot. Start doing stuff for fun and build up. True, it's 35 years now since you first professional work (I have that Issue) but look at all the years that lead to it. Your home 'private' comics and drawings, then the fan comics and stuff that was seen by other, then your first professional, then your first commission work etc.. Your have done really well for yourself and should be quite pleased.

Unknown said...

Congratulations Lew, making a lengthy career in a field that has changed as much as comics is outstanding.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, Caz!

Hi Ryan, I hope it didn't come across that I have any regrets not being a 'superstar'. I put the word in inverted commas because what I'm talking about are the guys who can attract huge crowds at San Diego Comic Con and suchlike. They tend to be mainly people working in superhero comics.

UK humour comics are never going to reach that level of attention in fandom, even though we often sell more copies than most American comics, but, as I said, I'm happy with the career I've had.

Bruce Laing said...

Congratulations on 35 years of cartooning, Lew.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, Bruce!

Manic Man said...

Nope, didn't come across as regrets ^_^ San Diego has been renamed "Comic Con International" years ago.. and its not really about comics, but meant to be a good Mass Media Convention.. but that doesn't appeal to me..

Lew Stringer said...

I did actually have the chance to go to San Diego Comic Con back when I was doing Brickman for Elephantmen, but I was caring for my mum at the time so didn't want to leave her for so long. I'd like to go there one day though, just for the experience, but doubt I will now I'm reaching 60.

Kevin Larkin said...

I'm very surprised that you got your break doing a humour comic with Marvel, and you were turned down by Fleetway and DC Thompson : you would have thought it would be the other way round! Good on you!

Lew Stringer said...

Back then, IPC and Thomsons were very firmly rooted in an old fashioned, formula look to their comics. Marvel editors were more open to using new people, and recognising the potential that others missed. I'm glad it worked out the way it did because I had more freedom to do what I wanted at Marvel than I would have at Thomsons or IPC.

A few years later, IPC were more willing to use me when Oink! came along, as that was also a comic outside of the formula where we were allowed more freedom to experiment.

Thomsons continued to reject my work until 1999!

Robert Carnegie said...

Congratulations! I think I bought that issue of "Daredevils".

I don't know if you look at "Private Eye" (the print is awfully small)... their current in-print subscription page has their own version of Iron Man current design, doing whatever an iron can. There's also an exposé on Jeremy Thorpe. And lots of cartoons.

Lew Stringer said...

I haven't bought Private Eye for a few weeks. Political reality is getting beyond parody these days.

Robert Carnegie said...

Actually - having taken a while to read it this far - Craig Brown's page 33 residency in "Eye 1472" as they like to say, is a version that should appeal to a classic comic reader. Chris Grayling the Minister for Trains Failing (that bit's mine) visits his local pet shop in an episode worthy of Dennis the Menace, or some other specific character whose name means more to you than to me.[*] I have to say that it won't appeal so much to animal lovers, but if Percy's dad is looking in, treat yourself. A roadside greengrocer stall and other familiar elements of sequential art shenanigans that I don't want to spoil are also included.

[*] Tommy Handley was a radio performer before my time and yours, but he did appear in "Radio Fun". But on casual checking, he had a regular supporting cast.

Usually I leave my "Eye" in the break room at work to overthrow tyrants, but if you don't manage a crafty read in Asda, I could give the tyrants a week off.

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