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John Geering's 70s Hotspur strips, and other 'phunnies' 
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Recently, I have been broadening my comic-reading horizons a bit, delving into subjectmatter I considered 'secondary' or of lesser interest to me at the time, but which is well worth looking back at a few decades down the line...



This week, I have been looking through fairly substantial VICTOR and HOTSPUR archives, and very densely-detailed, action-packed stuff it proves to be......Victor especially is mainly gung-ho, Imperialist stuff with very little in the way of cartoon humour input, [although this comic did in fact delve into sci-fi towards the end]: HOTSPUR [dubbed 'New Hotspur' at the start of it's 1959 revamp, that ran until 1981] also started off in a similar macho vein, but come the early 70s, they commissioned much original 'comic/cartoon' material of a calibre just as good as seen anywhere else----


This includes material by John Geering---probably my favourite-ever cartoon artist when I was growing up in the late 60s and 70s-----that I barely even knew existed; his standard of artwork during the 1969-70s period is the only work of his I am interested in, come 1980 and BANANAMAN for NUTTY, and his stuff was scaled-down and 'zippified' in order for him to earn a good weekly wage: not really his fault, his paymasters should have paid him more for his top-quality work, a sad story all too typical in comics politics.

His choice of course, but I do not collect any of the last [almost] 20 years of his output.



Mr Geering done a b/w two-pager series during 1971 [the same era as his P.C. BIG EARS, so good standards there, ] called BIG OSSIE about a large ostrich---which I do actually have a vague memory of--------but so far I have uncovered a further two Geering strips I never even heard of, for the Hotspur circa 1975-78.

Here are two examples from the 70s period, which I much prefer to his 80s-90s material:


really glad I discovered this stuff with lots I have yet to see.

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More Hotspur cartoon stuff on the way later this week.

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Thu May 14, 2015 7:45 pm
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Rab, there is loads more that you have missed out. I have been looking at Ossie The Outlaw for years trying to figure out who drew it. And when you said John Geering, I started banging my head against the keyboard! I should have spotted that ages ago!

Most of Victor's funnies were reprint such as Figaro from Topper, Toad In The Hole or Country Cuzzins. You also had the odd humour story such as Feuding Finnegan with art by C D Bagnall with his pet Emmy as he wandered around the outback. And you had Charlie And The Boss with art by Matias Alonso Andres. A sort of one man troubleshooter being directed by his eccentric but unbelievably rich boss man, who we never meet. Not to mention Star Spangled Banger about a racing car that literally had a mind of its' own!

As to Hotspur, you had loads of humour in there. There is a Mountie one that I think is drawn by John Geering, but I could be wrong. And there is Charlie's Ant about an ant and his human friend Charlie who could talk to him. There are a lot more, but we have lots of different artists there and I can feel another thread coming on later! :lol:

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Thu May 14, 2015 9:52 pm
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Thanks for your very informative input on this subject, Col, and you obviously have been familiar with this material for a long time..


In my case, I was always more of a 'cartoon' comics fan, only reading War comics if there was nothing else around to read. However I am quite happy to reassess this material now, and strips like BLACK SAPPER, KING COBRA as well as ALF TUPPER, THE TOUGH OF THE TRACK out of VICTOR are well worthy of modern reappraisal.

I stopped buying comics altogether around 1976, then started again in the early 80s with 2000 AD so there are whole blocks of comics material I am just catching up with now.


I did notice a lot of 'funny' reprints in VICTOR: for example the TOPPER'S Hillys and the Billys by a non-Beatles George Martin was relabelled The Roughies and the Toughies.


HOTSPUR, as you rightly attest to, were more generous and creative in their commissioning of brand-new funnies material, although even here, there are repeats of Ali Ha Ha and his 40 Thieves by Ken Reid.

There are also lots of illustrations by David Gudgeon, Bill Ritchie and Albert Holroyd, including a fair few micro-strips.


I have only skimmed through the surface of this material, but I have just this week recieved a fair whack of these items so will add more material on here very soon.

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Fri May 15, 2015 8:12 am
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Unlike Victor and Hornet, which only started to embrace comic strips via the strips they began to reprint from earlier Thomson comics in 1971, the New Hotspur/Hotspur had included comic strips, and new ones at that, since its inception in 1959. Most particularly 'Scruffy', who looked like a reject from the paper's Red Circle School, and who appeared from issue No1 drawn by George Drysdale. Along with Scruffy, whose full page strip appeared pretty well every week for eight years, New Hotspur/Hotspur also featured other new comic strips from its earliest days including 'Davy Deen' also drawn by George Drysdale and 'Lanky Franky' drawn by Albert Holroyd.


Fri May 15, 2015 4:44 pm
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Thanks also, kashgar, for your always welcome additions and also for the corrections to my embryonic meanderings on this subject: yes, George Drysdale done loads of regular cartoon material for New Hotspur, ---Scruffy made the back page in full colour of course, and seems to have inspired Hugh Morren?--------and I intend adding some 'curio' material on this score on here over the weekend:

as I said earlier in this thread, it has taken me 40 years to catch up with this material in-depth, [partly through fairly recent technological advancements] , but happily I have found a friendly dealer who is helping me out with this very worthwhile material.

More visuals from Hotspur Funnies this Saturday, hopefully.

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Fri May 15, 2015 8:05 pm
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OK, here are more John Geering [relative] rarities from early 70s HOTSPUR:


---up until last week, I would have put money on JG's most under-recognized strip of the period as being TROUBLE BRUIN' [sparky, 1970]---but no!

Here is a strip I never even heard of until two days ago--again, I much prefer this work he done throughout the 70s: there is much more variety and imaginitive compositions in this material, where he has had the luxury of taking his time on the artwork, I felt there was much more charm and appeal in this earlier Geering work:


---and also, check out that final frame, with a very Boots-a-like mutt on the right!

Image


I do actually [just] remember this John Geering ostrich strip, and here is the first of a double-spreader from late 1971/early 1972 HOTSPUR. Again, fantastic work here, and I for one lament the fact that John spent his final two decades churning out very rushed work in comparison to this earlier period when he had a lot less on his artistic plate: much later on, he claimed that Thomson were not paying him enough in order for him to turn out his best quality work, and I actually have some sympathy with him.....



I will try and locate the Geering Mountie strip Col mentioned and add that on here too-----there are also further delights from other artists on this comic I will also be adding on here as well.


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Sat May 16, 2015 7:59 am
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Had a quick look through some of my old notes and Scruffy was missing from 35 issues of the first 320 issues of New Hotspur/Hotspur. His full colour back page strips ran from No 21(12/3/60), relacing the back page feature, until No 139(16/6/62) the issue before the start of the Hotspur's stories of the Old West which then began appearing on the front and back covers. His earlier strips in Nos 1 to 20 and some later ones were printed in red/black so that we were in no doubt about the colour of his cap and blazer from the very beginning, the red of Red Circle School, although no reference was made to this in the stories. In fact he seemed to attend a school were he was the only one in uniform.
'Davy Deen - He's not so green' also drawn by George Drysdale first appeared in issue No 2(31/10/59) as did 'Lanky Franky' drawn by Albert Holroyd and 'Absent-minded Alfie' drawn by Alan Gibson. These all ran weekly until No 46(3/9/60) whereafter they appeared when space allowed, particularly the first two, for a number of years.
The Victor and Hornet both only began publishing comic strips in April 1971, in their case reprints, when along with Hotspur they dropped the weekly prose story that had been a feature of all the three titles since the beginning.


Sat May 16, 2015 10:35 am
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Great to see Spy..

I thought Bananaman in Nutty were very good...also very funny..maybe until Eric got his hair..
Also Smudge was good in the early 80's..also liked The Snobbs and the Slobbs..

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Sun May 24, 2015 5:34 pm
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Thanks for your thoughts on this, Peter.

Do you not agree though that the J G examples above are more carefully-drawn [ie slower to draw, with more thought put into them] than his 80s and 90s work, which was very rushed-looking in comparison?

It was still very good for what it was though---I met an animator from Cosgrove Hall who told me that John Geering used to knock out a DCT strip during his dinner break, inbetween doing background layouts for Count Duckula, a story I certainly believe.

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Last edited by ISPYSHHHGUY on Mon May 25, 2015 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun May 24, 2015 5:42 pm
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ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts on this, Peter.

Do you not agree though that the J G examples above are more carefully-drawn [ie slower to draw, with more thought put into them] than his 80s and 90s work, which was very rushed-looking in comparison?
.


I think there is a difference, but I don't see such a huge difference as you seem to see. The 70s examples here also look quickly done to me, almost rushed; and that's part of their charm. I might be biased because I grew up on his 80's work.

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Mon May 25, 2015 11:17 am
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Dishes; thank you for your observations.


it is maybe because I grew up following John Geerings' work in 'real time;, that is, from his first-ever published professional strip [Puss and Boots, summer 1969, as far as I am aware] and over the next two years, his technique had blossomed to a very advanced degree, that I never witnessed by any other cartoonist, either before or since. His very early strips were fairly crude, and I doubt if anyone could have foreseen just how good an artist he would become within a mere couple of years.

His 70s work was drawn to a larger scale so he had more room to add details and crowd scenes,/ variation in compositions [a fundamental drawback in Bananaman, where almost everything is drawn at the same 'flat' depth] which were sorely lacking come BANANAMAN, I remember picking up a copy of NUTTY in 1981 and I recognized Johns' work on the cover straight away: I was quite aghast that his standards had dropped so visibly: it was undoubtedly sketchier and lacking in variation, which can only be done properly if the artist takes time to work without rushing---I would equate this with the differences between big-screen animation like Tom and Jerry compared to TV animation like Yogi Bear: just basic corner-cutting and zippier artwork.


As I said, he later claimed himself that DCT were not paying him enough for him to turn out his best work.

I do not really blame him for turning out speedier work, if he wanted to earn a good living---but before Bananaman, he had much less work on his plate, and had more time to turn out more polished work.


Robert Nixon was another very good artist who eventually went the 'sketchy' route and to be fair many readers never seemed to notice or care.

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Mon May 25, 2015 1:47 pm
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Here are a couple of John Geering BANANAMAN cartoons for a comparison: these are very good considering how quickly they were drawn, but make up your own minds on this, please, readers:



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Mon May 25, 2015 2:13 pm
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I do see what you mean, and I never doubted that he could have done much more detailed drawings if he had wanted to, and if they had made it more worth his while. But the great thing about JK Geering (and I've said before he was my favourite artist as a kid) is that he didn't really need to try very hard to produce hilarious, appealing drawings.

I also wonder if when he was doing colour strips such as Bananaman he deliberately used less black ink to let the colour carry the burden. I feel like his black and white strips of the same era such as Smudge were more detailed. Then again in the case of Smudge that could have been that he was making an extra effort since it was the Beano, which had never given him any work before.

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Mon May 25, 2015 11:53 pm
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Yes Dishes I agree that his work on Smudge during the 80s did look a fair bit more accomplished than Bananaman, with more detail on the socks lying around, etc, and yes in the 80s there was still a DCT rule that you had to be really good and turn out quality work if you wanted to draw for the Beano. [it could well be different now of course, under new Editors who seem to encourage new untested artists more ].

You are also right that he was a naturally funny artist who could not put a foot wrong regarding expression and humorous drawings....glad to hear he was also your own favourite cartoon artist.

He was unusual that he never cloned Baxendale, but seemed more inspired by American animated cartoons----and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

I saw some of his original pages at DCT, they looked even better still.

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Tue May 26, 2015 8:18 am
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http://bananaman30years.blogspot.co.uk/ ... first.html


The images you shown are very late John Geering of Bananaman he was still good in the early and mid 80's..
Also Number 13 was good with the experimental colour in the late 80's..


Image 1979

Image 1979

Image last strip John drew...The Dandy 13th March 1999

Image

Image 1994 liked the colouring he did in this period..

Image 1982

Image 1982

so here's some different later periods...better than the ones spy has shown...if this was a court case.. ;)

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Tue May 26, 2015 9:43 am
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