I come by my love of foreign comics honestly by way of my Grandmother, God rest her soul. When I was growing up she used to go on these Church sponsored trips overseas,and invariably she would bring home a comic book from the country she visited for me. Even though I couldn’t read most of them I treasured them, as ample evidence of my Grandmother’s love (of course at the time I never gave it a second thought but it couldn’t have always been easy for her to find them) sure. But they were also proof positive that comic books were being published all over the world, a pretty heady concept for a kid in 1960′s America to accept let me tell you.
But once she brought me a back one that I could actually read, an issue of a British boys weekly. I wish I could tell you it had been a copy of the legendary Eagle, home to Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, but to be absolutely honest I’ve completely forgotten it’s title. I’ve lost that comic somewhere along the line, but even decades later can still vividly recall two of it’s on-going serials.
One involved a trio of schoolboys who protected their little seaside village against the Nazi’s using their souped up BMX bikes (thirty years prior to their invention). While the other concerned the travels of an orphaned boy on the run from his evil uncle who coveted his inheritance. Coincidentally in the installment he was in America and was rescued in the nick of time by a hippy porter who, even at the age of ten, struck me as being remarkably unauthentic. And my only exposure to hippies was exclusively from their occasional appearances in episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies and Hawaii Five-0.
In the decades that followed I’ve mostly read about British comics, seeing as how there weren’t a lot of reprints readily available in America. But recently I’ve managed to establish contact with an underground cabal of scanners and have downloaded a couple hundred of the actual comics. Enough to fully appreciate their intelligence, imagination, wish fulfillment and eccentricity, to know that I have favorite artists, titles and characters. But mostly I’ve read enough of them to know that I want to read more.
British weeklies being anthologies published weekly the adventure stories were of course serialized so it’s hard to to find a self contained sample to share with you here. So thank heavens for the British Annuals which were generally large-sized hardcover books with over 100 pages and a high colour content which came out in the Fall in time for Holiday gift giving.
So, from Buster Holiday Fun Special 1974 I give you a story of one of my favorite character, Galaxus, The Thing From Outer Space. Created by editor Ken Mennell who wrote his first installment, the rest of its 339 episodes were written by Scott Goodall and drawn by South American artist Solano Lopez (who’s best known here for his Adults Only Eros Comic Young Witches).
Galaxus was a space alien with the face of a platypus, body of a yeti and feet of a mole who could shrink down to two inches or expand to giant size. Befriended by a couple of British kids who tried to protect him from the uncaring adult world that refused to understand that he meant us no harm. He was sort of an inarticulate anti-Hulk who in spite of his size and strength advantage most often shied away from a fight, regularly expressing himself with the forlorn wail of a heart broken child. It seems a little short of insane that no one has collected this, or turned it into a cartoon series, or plush figures; Galaxus would make one hell of a huggie.