On this day, 27 January 1973: Lion and Thunder
On this day, 27 January 1973 … Zip Nolan tried to bring American pow to London, but it’s never been easy to knock the little Britain charm out of our own great comics tradition.
My comics-reading life began in the mid-1970s, by which time a certain class of ‘boys’’ adventure comic – latterly Lion and Thunder, and Valiant – was being replaced on the newsagents’ shelves by the likes of Action and Battle. The newcomers appeared to have a more dynamic artistic style, and punkier, more streetwise content that was in keeping with the spirit of the age and mirrored the most popular contemporary TV and film drama, in contrast to the older comics which appeared to me to have a safer, more traditional style not much different from the ripping yarns look of the 1950s and 1960s. My impression for a long time – even as an adult collector – was that Lion and its ilk were probably a bit dull.
I was wrong, of course. Having got over my preconceptions about the artistic style, I’ve seen that Lion is packed with fantastic characters, ideas and storylines unhindered by any compulsion to be credible, gritty or relevant. This issue includes favourites such as Spellbinder – medieval alchemist SylvesterTurville travels back and forth through time in his ‘instantaneous travel cabinet’ – The Last of the Harkers – about the last surviving member of a great sporting family who have the supernatural ability to elongate their limbs – Adam Eterno – another magical time-traveller of whose imaginative adventures I’ve included a full page below – Secrets of the Demon Dwarf – Doktor Gratz, Great War German dwarf scientist, awakes from suspended animation to continue his personal, evil experiments-resourced war against the Brits – and cover star Zip Nolan – an American highway patrolman assigned, Hot Fuzz-style, to duty in the English county of Midchester.
In the captions below I’ve used the limited online information that I’ve been able to gather about the writers and artists, but feel a little shaky about the accuracy of the citations. If anyone can add names where they are missing, or point out if I’ve got any of them wrong then I’d gratefully make the corrections.