Sunday, October 24, 2010
The Best of The Victor is here!
The Best of The Victor, a handsome 176 page hardback from Prion Books, is a fine tribute to the glory days of the boys adventure weekly. Compiled by Morris Heggie, most of the key favourite characters from the 1960s are here: Morgyn the Mighty, Matt Braddock, and of course Alf Tupper, the champion runner whose favourite food is fish and chips.
Reproduction of the strips is very good, and the pages have been given an effect which makes them look like they're printed on newsprint, with bits of wood pulp visible, just like the old comics. In reality the paper is of a high quality with a really nice texture.
Morris Heggie has used an effective technique to try and capture the anticipation of the serials whist avoiding the pitfall of leaving the reader on a cliffhanger. By spreading the serials across the book, in a sort of rotation, it works better than the relentless method of, say, printing six Morgyn the Mighty episodes in succession.
Personally I was never a fan of the D.C. Thomson adventure comics when I was a kid. They thrived on the two subjects that I loathed: war and competitive sport. (Little of which appeared in the Odhams titles or TV21, which is why I liked those comics so much.) However in hindsight I can now see what I missed; Victor featured well crafted tales of selflessness and heroism, superbly structured with clear storytelling and gentle entertainment.
As well as the key characters there are also other less-remembered stories reprinted in the book, such as an episode of the bizarre fantasy serial The March of the Prickly Giant, featuring the menace of a giant hedgehog! You couldn't make it up, except that someone did, and it was inspired lunacy played straight.
There's even a free gift inside which hearkens back to those long-lost days; one of those triangular cardboard and brown paper 'bangers'! That has to be the icing on the ingredients of this nostalgic cake.
My only criticism is that I'd have liked to have seen credits given to the anonymous writers and artists, and specific dates for when each story first appeared. I know the general public that this book is targeted at might not be interested in such trivia but it couldn't hurt to have included it. However, minor quibble aside, this is the perfect book for anyone who has fond memories of, or curiosity about, adventure comics of a certain era.