Thursday, 5 June 2008

Mike Western 1925 - 2008

Mike Western one of Britain’s greatest comics artists died on Tuesday, 13 May, aged 83.

Comics historian Steve Holland has a more detailed and informative history of Mike Western’s work on his blog Bear Alley and I have more links at the end of this post by others but I just wanted to pay tribute to Mike in my own way with a visit to the Four-Color Craic vaults:

Mike had a long spell as cover artist on Valiant, 13 years and with over 500 covers to be precise beginning in 1962.

Valiant and TV21 cover [5 Feb 1972]

In 1964 Mike began drawing 'The Wild Wonders' for the Valiant. Written by Tom Tully ‘The Wild Wonders’ was a story about two feral or “wild” boys, Rick and Charlie Wild, brought up by animals on a remote island, discovered the boys soon proved to be brilliant athletes.

'The Wild Wonders' (p1) Valiant and TV21 [16 Dec 1972]

One of my favorite Mike Western co-creations was ‘The Leopard from Lime Street’. Another co-creation with Tom Tully ‘The Leopard from Lime Street’ was one of the Buster’s longest running strips [1976 – 1985].

Buster and Monster Fun cover [9 Jun 1979]

Very much in the spirit of Spider-Man ‘The Leopard from Lime Streetwas about young Billy Farmer who lived with his Aunt Joan and Uncle Charlie. He was scratched by a radioactive leopard called 'Sheba' while taking photos at the local zoo for the school magazine, and gained leopard-like strength, speed, reflexes, and tree-climbing abilities.

'The Leopard from Lime Street' (p3) Buster and Monster Fun [12 May 1979]

Mike’s finest work was probably in the pages of Battle Picture Weekly on strips: ‘The Team That Went To War’ [1976], 'Darkie's Mob' [1976 – 77], 'The Sarge' [1966 – 78] and 'HMS Nightshade' [1979]. Mike’s work became grittier in style for the darker tones of the Battle Picture Weekly war storylines. My personal favourites being ‘Darkies Mob’ and ‘The Sarge’.

'The Team That Went To War' (p1) Battle [8 May 1976]

Battle and Valiant cover [8 Jan 1977]

'Darkies Mob' (p1) Battle and Valiant [11 Dec 1978]

'H.M.S. Nightshade' (p1) Battle Action [10 Feb 1979]

'The Sarge' (p3) Battle and Valiant [20 Aug 1977]

Battle and Valiant cover [27 Aug 1977]

Battle Action cover [18 May 1978]

'The Sarge' (p1) Battle Action [18 May 1978]

Steve Holland's obituary to Mike Western can be found here: and there are more tributes here:

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