Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

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wigwam
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Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by wigwam » 13 May 2009, 08:52

While trying to find out exactly when Ron Embleton took over drawing 'Wulf the Briton' in Express Weekly, I found an article by Andrew Darlington on the Internet.
From his article, which was originally published in 1993:
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WULF THE BRITON replaced the MARK FURY single-page colour strip in EXPRESS WEEKLY dated 13th October 1956 in an introductory story set in AD 62. Written by Jenny M. Butterworth (wife of Mike, who scripted the high-rated THE TRIGAN EMPIRE series - since published in large-format book editions) it traces the struggles of Wulf - a slave owned by the Roman Lucellus, as he endures a series of seven trials to gain his liberty. The story swiftly expands to double-paged status announcing itself as "out of the desperate days of Ancient Rome leaps Wulf the Briton" - by January '57 leaping to the front cover under his own name, the "Freedom is the Prize" sub-title gradually fading out. From its finest episodes inked by Ron Embleton - who inherited art duties with the switch to the front-page and carries them over into a lavish centre-spread, Wulf's forays range across the Empire from Egypt and back to Britain, there to resist the Roman centurion I used to mispronounce phonetically "Agri-Cola" (a la Pepsi-Cola!).
But "our quarrel is with injustice, not with Rome alone. We go to help the weaker" Wulf cries heroically in the 1958 EXPRESS ANNUAL story. Here, alongside a JET MORGAN escapade, Wulf is "Captain of a galley with a crew of escaped gladiators" fighting Timur Khan of the Tartar War-horde on the Black Sea. Righting such misdeeds he remained an integral EXPRESS attraction until the final issue, long after he'd lost both cover position and his best artist. With the magazine's radical format reshuffle of 16th April '60 into TV EXPRESS Wulf was terminated.
----------------

So Embleton must have taken over in January 1957, but is this correct? And if so, what is the exact date/issue-number? Does someone have information and a scan of Embleton's first page to share?
All help will be appreciated.

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philcom55
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by philcom55 » 14 May 2009, 02:06

Hi Wigwam!
Here are the covers of Express Weekly no's 139 and 140:
Image
Image
...As you can see no.140 features the first Embleton episode of Wulf the Briton (there is no credit listed but the following issue is specifically attributed to Ron and Jenny Butterworth; of course Embleton subsequently took over the scripting duties as well). Incidentally, although the Italian artist Ruggero Giovannini was responsible for most of the earlier Wulf episodes (before taking over 'Olac the Gladiator' from Don Lawrence in Tiger) it's noticeable that no.139 is neither his work nor Embleton's. To my eye it looks a bit like Terry Patrick but I couldn't swear to it.

Hope this is of some help. :)
- Phil Rushton

Kashgar
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by Kashgar » 14 May 2009, 09:52

It's not Terry Patrick Phil I'm pretty certain of that. Not sure who it is though (Chick Jack possibly?). I'm also fairly sure that Andrew Darlington is wrong when he says that Apr 1960 saw the end of Wulf the Briton in Express Weekly/ TV Express. I seem to remember after a hiatus he returned to the paper towards the end of the year. I'll prepare to be shot down in flames if I'm wrong.

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crow
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by crow » 14 May 2009, 23:53

I'd love to see a reprint of Embleton's run of Wulf. Anyone remember it being reprinted in the Marvel UK weekly, Forces in Combat, in the 80's? Full-colour art printed on newsprint. The colours spread, it looked terrible...

Here's another page of Wulf on a site I created:http://www.britishcomicart.netfirms.com ... ulf_1.html

wigwam
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by wigwam » 15 May 2009, 09:20

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the information and the wonderful scans. This is exactly what I wanted to know and see...
But, now you have made me curious about the credits. You wrote 'there is no credit listed but the following issue is specifically attributed to Ron and Jenny Butterworth'. Are their names mentioned somewhere in issue 141, e.g. on the frontpage where Wulf had the most exciting adventures? Or is this common knowledge with British comics-experts? I'm from The Netherlands, where information on Embleton is hard to come by.

I will start a new topic on Embleton soon, for my original question in this one is part of a bigger search for his first full colour strip. Just to drop a hint: Wulf the Briton went down to number three on my list...

John Wigmans
(Wigwam)

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philcom55
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by philcom55 » 15 May 2009, 18:36

Kashgar wrote:I'm also fairly sure that Andrew Darlington is wrong when he says that Apr 1960 saw the end of Wulf the Briton in Express Weekly/ TV Express. I seem to remember after a hiatus he returned to the paper towards the end of the year.
Andrew's piece is a pretty good example of how you shouldn't really trust anything you read on the internet. In fact, Wulf didn't return until December of the following year, having presumably heard that readers would be receiving some "Great News" within a few short weeks! Offhand I've no idea who the artist is, though it's clearly not one of the Embleton brothers:
Image
wigwam wrote:You wrote 'there is no credit listed but the following issue is specifically attributed to Ron and Jenny Butterworth'. Are their names mentioned somewhere in issue 141, e.g. on the frontpage where Wulf had the most exciting adventures?
Yep. As you can see the front page of issue 141 says that Wulf is "Drawn by R. S. Embleton" with "Story by J. Mcl. Butterworth" (although, come to think of it, that could actually refer to Michael rather than Jenny - or alternatively they could have written it together :roll: ):
Image
I will start a new topic on Embleton soon, for my original question in this one is part of a bigger search for his first full colour strip. Just to drop a hint: Wulf the Briton went down to number three on my list...
I'll look forward to that with interest John. :)

Not counting two-tone art the only Embleton strip I can think of which is in full-colour and predates Wulf is a Young King Arthur story drawn for the centre pages of Playhour in 1956 (and I've never even seen that! ). On the other hand, he was an incredibly prolific artist during the 1950s and one advantage of living in the UK is that I'm constantly stumbling across fresh examples of his work from the period. A few weeks ago, for instance, I picked up an undated item I'd never heard of before called 'The Twelvemonth Book for Boys and Girls' only to find it was filled with page after page of early Embleton art - both in B&W and colour. (As a matter of interest does anyone have any idea when this was originally printed? The publisher is given as 'Beaver Books' - whoever they were..! )

- Phil Rushton
Last edited by philcom55 on 16 May 2009, 00:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Peter Gray
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by Peter Gray » 15 May 2009, 23:52

Beaver books sounds like the Scouts Guides cubs and brownies...or Butlins type books...Butlins did there own annuals..

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philcom55
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by philcom55 » 16 May 2009, 00:16

I think quite a few publishers used that name over the years, but this particular one seems totally new to me! (For what it's worth it was printed in Czechoslovakia)

Here's the cover for anyone who's interested:
Image

- Phil R.

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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by Kashgar » 16 May 2009, 11:18

For some reason when I wrote that Wulf 'returned at the end of the year' I had it in my mind that TV Express ended ie was merged with TV Comic, in Jan 1961 not 1962. He was certainly only in the last six issues or so.

wigwam
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by wigwam » 28 May 2009, 08:05

Just the other day I found a scan of an original and very early page from Wulf the Briton by Embleton. It's on compalcomics.com, in their summer catalogue 2009.
The description: "106. Wulf The Briton original artwork by Ron Embleton for Express Weekly 155 (1957)
Wulf proves himself to the warrior tribesmen in his quest to solve the riddle of the Sphinx …
Poster colour on card. 26 x 20 ins
£650-750".
Wulf-106.jpg
Wulf the Briton from Express Weekly 155 (1957)
Hope you like it.
John

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philcom55
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by philcom55 » 28 May 2009, 08:49

Thanks for posting that John; shame about the price - I'm glad I got my few pieces of original Embleton art when they were much cheaper! One nice thing I've noticed about Ron's boards is that the colours tend to remain as bright today as the when they were painted - unlike those of Pat Nicolle for example.

- Phil Rushton
(Were you able to open the Reynolds scan I e-mailed by the way? )

wigwam
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by wigwam » 28 May 2009, 09:29

Hi Phil,

Yes, I did manage to open and admire the scan you sent me. Thanks!!
Now please read the PM I sent you first. :-)

Best,
John

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philcom55
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Re: Ron Embleton and Wulf the Briton

Post by philcom55 » 28 May 2009, 23:18

It's worth remembering that for about a year after he began drawing Wulf on the front page of Express Weekly Ron Embleton continued to draw a page of 'Strongbow the Mighty' in black & white for Odhams in Mickey Mouse Weekly and then Zip. It was only after he completed his final Strongbow strip (the conclusion of which is shown below) in the issue of Zip dated 8th March 1958 that he was finally able to expand Wulf to two full pages.
Image

However Strongbow was left in safe hands as his brother Gerry took over with the following issue when that series was also promoted to full colour:
Image
(I may be wrong but this seems likely to be Gerry's first colour strip).

Finally - just for John - here's a half-page nature feature drawn by Basil Reynolds for the back page of Express Weekly in the selfsame week that Ron was making his final bow at Zip:
Image
...from the title I assume it must have been a one-off, but it wasn't long before he began work on a number of regular colour series in the same style such as 'The Wild World' and 'Wild Africa', etc.

- Phil Rushton

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