For the uninitiated, Roy of the Rovers is an iconic football adventure comic strip. The character of Roy Race is one of the most famous on the landscape of British comics. While Roy starred in his own comic from 1976, his first appearance came in the pages of Tiger, and 2014 will be the 60th anniversary of that debut.
Roy and I go back a long way.
While I occasionally did some freelance feature work for the publication, in the early 90s I was often called in to the Roy of the Rovers offices to provide editorial cover. I met Barrie Mitchell there for the first time, and for a period we worked together on a comic strip for the title, called United! It was well-received but ended up being dropped from the line-up of stories following a revamp.
They were occurring quite frequently, in efforts to counter declining interest. The biggest came in 1993, when it was decided the publication would close as a weekly and return as a monthly. I was asked to contribute ideas and suggestions for the re-launch. The main thrust of the changes adopted was that Roy, close to death following a helicopter crash in the final issue of the weekly title, was too injured to ever take to the field again – and his then 16-year-old son, known as Rocky but christened Roy, would become the new Roy of the Rovers playing star.
Some strips of mine appeared in the relaunched monthly title, but it too suffered from dwindling sales, and was cancelled after 19 issues.
Yet, just as football is littered with famous comebacks, this legendary strip reappeared in 1997, in the pages of the BBC’s Match Of The Day magazine. The lengthy, successful run in that title featured Barrie drawing and myself scripting.
We teamed up again for Roy’s most recent appearance, a one-off special strip to mark the Manchester Derby between City and United, in the Daily Mail. Additionally, we have put together a number of proposals to re-launch the strip in different formats and publications.
Here are some links to the never-before published scripts and artwork for one of those new Roy of the Rovers proposals.
If anyone reading this wants to know more, please get in touch via the contact page. Use the same route if you wish to reach Barrie, and I’ll forward any messages on to him.