Thursday, 23 February 2017


Images copyright REBELLION

As it's 2000 A.D.'s 40th Anniversary, I thought I'd celebrate a
little Anniversary of my own.  Namely, the 32nd Anniversary (as near
as dammit) of the appearance of the first strip I ever lettered for the mag.
It seems like only yesterday in memory, but I was still a young man around
my mid-20s when I lettered this tale in the Walsingham Guest House
in Southsea, sometime in January 1985.  (Though I may have started it in
the Wansbeck Hotel in London the day before.)  Ah, happy days.
So - "Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!" below.

(Actually, it's 32 years to the day since the above issue went on
sale.  It's dated March 2nd, which means it appeared in newsagents'
shops on February 23rd.  I didn't realise that when I decided to re-
post the piece, it's simply an amazing coincidence.  Wow!)

Not counting paid jobs I'd done since still at school, my very first
'big-time' professional freelance lettering job was for IPC MAGAZINES
in 2000 A.D. - a strip called 'EXTRA! EXTRA!', which appeared in Prog
407, cover-dated March 2nd, 1985.  (It wasn't my first published IPC job
however - that was a CAPTAIN KID - The PINT-SIZED PIRATE page
in WHIZZER & CHIPS, which I lettered one night in the 2000 A.D.
office before going home to my bedsit in Southsea.)

The strip was written by PETE MILLIGAN and drawn by the late
JOSE CASANOVAS, who sadly died in 2009.  To be honest, I'm sur-
prised it turned out as well as it did.  I didn't have the right 'patch-paper'
so the lettering came out a little scratchy-looking and was also a tad too
large.  I remember STEVE MacMANUS being quite pleased with it
though, especially the newspaper headlines.

And thus began my full-time, fifteen year career working for the
'big boys' - not only IPC but also MARVEL COMICS (the British and
American divisions).  Anyway, I thought that some of you might enjoy
seeing where it all began.  (Is it just me, or does anyone else think that
Casanovas' art is slightly reminiscent of RON TURNER's?)

I'd like to think that I improved over the coming months once I
'found' my style, but, all in all, it wasn't too bad a beginning for someone
starting out in the world of comics.  Technology can be a wonderful thing,
but I can't help but feel that some of the art has gone from lettering now
that anyone with a keyboard and access to computer fonts can do what
once used to lie only within the province of calligraphic artists.

The original scans were a bit 'ropey' (pun intended), so
I've replaced them with far clearer ones.  The pages don't
look pixelated now and are a lot easier to read.


Alan McKenzie said...

For what it's worth, Mr R, it was always a pleasure to work with you. You were always diligent and never missed a deadline. And I really liked your lettering style. Like you, I agree that computer lettering is just not as good as hand-lettering. With hand lettering, every letter is slightly different. With computer fonts, every letter is identical. And that's why it loses its organic feel.

Kid said...

Crikey, I'm truly humbled, Mr. M, as I can think of no other person I'd want to hear such appreciation, nay, praise, from. I've said elsewhere on this blog of mine that you were the best editor I ever worked with/for, so it's good to know that I measured up so well against some of the comics veterans you worked alongside. Pleasure to have worked with you, and an honour to know you, sir. I'd better call it quits at that before some wag tells us to 'get a room'.

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