Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Roy of the Rovers: The 1970s

Roy of the Rovers: The 1970s
Titan Books (UK) June 2009

Leave it to the Brits to produce a comic book ?!

But a comic about soccer it was.....Roy of the Rovers began print in 1954 as a serial comic in the boy's magazine Tiger, before becoming its own comic book title in 1976. 

The series ceased publication in 2001, but it remains an indelible feature of British popular culture of the 20th century.

This large trade paperback from Titan Books compiles the two- to four- page episodes from the 'Roy of the Rovers' comic book, published by Fleetway on a weekly basis from the inaugural issue of September 25, 1976, to June 2, 1979. While credits are not printed in the strips nor in this compilation, the scripts apparently were written mainly by Tom Tully, and the art was done by David Sque.

[The book's content was derived from scans of those 1970s - era pages, so the reproduction of the comics is not hi-fidelity.]

Also reproduced are selected advertisements and articles appearing in the comic book.

For American readers, at least, some of these features border on the surreal....take for example this group photo of 'Elton's Lads', with Elton John and Rod Stewart posing in the front, and Bill Oddie - one of the cast in the great 70s UK TV comedy The Goodies - standing in the back....!

Roy Race played the striker position for the fictional team of Melchester. In addition to the intense action on the soccer field, additional drama was generated from Roy's conflicts with referees, management, and teammates. 

Social issues also intruded into Roy's world of good sportsmanship; several episodes dealt with the effects hooliganism was having on the action on and off the pitch:

Some stories can be seen as an acknowledgement of the increasingly fractious state of society throughout Europe. For example, in one episode, bad behavior by a player from the Swedish 'Zalmo' squad triggers some 'aggro' on the pitch....... but Roy's innately British sense of fair play and sportsmanship defuse the situation, and draw grudging admiration from a disbelieving police:

All in all, even if you're not a particularly ardent fan of soccer / football, 'Roy of the Rovers: The 1970s' is an interesting look at the UK of that era....and for some Brits of certain age groups, I imagine the advertisements will bring on some degree of nostalgia......?!

1 comment:

Eric said...

Thank you for posting this: in 1975, Pink Floyd's tour programme took the form of a comic book featuring the band members starring in various scenarios, one of which was "Rog of the Rovers", with bassist Roger Waters as some kind of super-soccer player.

I was too young to see that tour in person, but I've seen scans of the programme floating around online for awhile now. And I never got the real joke in that particular section (other gags in it were far more accessible to an American). Until now. This post explains it. Again, thank you.