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Review: Comic Book Hero by Barrie Tomlinson

Barrie Tomlinson was a comics writer and former group editor at IPC whose writing credits included Death Wish, Survival, Dan Dare, Ghost SquadS.O.S for Eagle, and Scorer for the Daily Mirror. He was also only the second editor of the long-running sports-themed comic Tiger, and was responsible for the creation of the short-lived but fondly remembered Scream!. His other works included Wild Cat, M.A.S.K., Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, and Toxic Crusaders.

His new book Comic Book Hero, released today, is Tomlinson’s reflections of his time as editor of Tiger and all those other titles mentioned above. What started as a quick flick through turned into me reading the book cover to cover in what seemed like seconds but was in fact a fair few hours! The free-flowing style Tomlinson employs in his writing allows you to join him through his career and the various trials and tribulations associated with it.

Insights are provided to the behinds the scenes world of British comics in the 1970’s through to the 1990’s and we get to experience first hand how that world changed through Tomlinson’s first upgraded typewrite, new printing techniques, and how computer programmes changed things further.

What shocked me about the book was how much of Tomlinson’s work impacted on my younger years. Through The Eagle, Scream, M.A.S.K. and Roy of the Rovers (the stickers of which once adorned my bedroom door) nostalgia awoke. I still have a number of those issues as well as the Big Daddy annual he was involved in so there is a good chance they might be getting dug out later today. I would like to thank Tomlinson for bringing back those memories and allowing me to experience how those comics came to be first hand.

My one criticism of the book would be that I wanted a little more of the office side of things. Perhaps a bit more into the arguments and discussions that took place as well as the processes involved in creating a character and bringing him to the page. Whilst this is discussed in some cases I guess I just wanted a bit more meet on the bone.

Verdict: 7/10 – An excellent free-flowing read that takes you on a journey through 30 plus years of British comics. You get to experience the high, the lows and all that is in-between. Tomlinson helps you picture what was going on in those times and live with him through them. This is highly recommended to anyone who has even a passing interest in British comics because no matter how fleeting that interest maybe I bet Tomlinson was involved in it at some point.

 

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