Garth

Tagged: Comics | Character

Blond, square-jawed, musclebound, time-travelling Comic-strip character created for the London Daily Mirror by artist Steve Dowling and BBC producer Gordon Boshell as the UK's answer to Flash Gordon. Scripted by Don Freeman, Garth first appeared, floating ashore on a raft, on 24 July 1943, and soon became a kind of fantasy troubleshooter. In The Seven Ages of Garth (September 1944-January 1946) Freeman introduced Garth's Doctor Zarkov equivalent, Professor Lumiere, whose magic word "karma" allowed Garth to jump bodies (and episodes) at the point of death.

The finest scripts were written 1953-1966 by Peter O'Donnell, who introduced Garth's eternal lover Astra in The Last Goddess (1965). Jim Edgar provided moderately imaginative scripts throughout the next two decades on three basic themes: Time Travel, journeys to distant planets, and earthbound adventures that usually had sf elements. Angus Allan provided a few scripts in the late 1980s.

Steve Dowling retired in 1969 and his assistant, John Allard, took over as artist. In 1971 the Daily Mirror secured the services of Frank Bellamy (1919-1976), one of the finest strip illustrators of his day, whose beautifully rendered drawings made Garth the most attractive-looking UK newspaper strip then published. On Bellamy's sudden death the art chores were taken on by Martin Asbury; for some years Asbury's art was polished, enthusiastic and inventive, but it suddenly deteriorated in the mid-1980s and today seems hurried and shoddy. The strip lasted until 22 March 1997, but it returned for a brief run by artist Huw J Davies in 2008. The Daily Mirror started running reprints of the strip from multiple points in its history on 18 February 2011.

The Daily Mirror published several collections, including The Last Goddess (graph coll 1966), The "Daily Mirror" Book of Garth 1975 (graph coll 1975) and The "Daily Mirror" Book of Garth 1976 (graph coll 1976). Other early books were Garth – Man of Mystery (graph 1946) and Garth (1958 graph dos). Single-story collections were published by John Dakin/The Newspaper Strip Society: Bride of Jenghiz Khan (graph 1979), The Spanish Lady (graph 1980), Sapphire (graph 1980), Night of the Knives (graph 1980), The Doomsmen (graph 1981) and Mr Rubio Calls (graph 1981). Two collections of Bellamy stories were published by Titan: The Cloud of Balthus (graph coll 1985) and The Women of Galba (graph coll 1985). [RT/SW/JP]

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