Wednesday, 22 September 2010

JOHNNY FUTURE - MAN OF YESTERDAY...


Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow

One of my favourite comic strips back when I was a lad was JOHNNY FUTURE, published in the pages of FANTASTIC by ODHAMS PRESS. The strip had originally been called The MISSING LINK, but the character was deemed to be too similar to The HULK - then appearing in sister publication SMASH! - and a change in direction was instituted.  Whether MARVEL objected to a Hulk 'knock-off' appearing alongside other Marvel characters, or whether ALF WALLACE, the strip's writer, arrived at this decision on his own (or perhaps even intended it from the start) is lost in the mists of time, but it was undoubtedly a wise move.  With fantastic (no pun intended) artwork by Spanish artist LUIS BERMEJO, the strip ran until Fantastic absorbed TERRIFIC and JOHN FOSTER (Johnny Future's alter ego) disappeared into comics limbo.  Well, almost - he had one more outing in the 1969 Annual, but - after that - it was curtains for ol' JF.

There was occasionally some clumsy tampering with Luis Bermejo's artwork (the addition of an inconsistent futuristic emblem on his costume being but one example), but overall, the strip is fondly remembered as a benchmark of comic strip art from the 1960s.  Interestingly, Bermejo always misspelt the title as "Jhonny Future" in his pencilled indication of where the logo should be placed - English not being his strong point, I guess.  STEVE HOLLAND of BEAR ALLEY BOOKS was going to reprint the complete run in book form, but - due to events beyond his control - it hasn't yet come to pass and looks increasingly unlikely.  (Update: REBELLION are releasing a complete collected edition of the strip in April 2020.)

Incidentally, the back-page colour pin-ups are usually credited to BARRY WINDSOR SMITH, who, if he was responsible for the one at the top of this post, seems to have copied or merely traced it from an original panel by Bermejo himself.  (See below.)  Any clarification by anyone who knows what they're talking about would be most welcome, though I suspect it's possibly an enlargement of the Bermejo panel which a staff artist has retouched in places.

I have a fascinating origin worked out for the Link and Johnny Future - maybe one day I'll share it with you.  (Update: That day is here.  Click on this link to read about Johnny's connection to The Man Of Tomorrow.)

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