Friday 18 March 2011

Gerry Embleton, The S.A.S. and the Weirdest Sign Off in Comicsdom.

OK here as promised is a sample of Gerry Embleton's work from what was the very last story to appear in TV Express's S.A.S. strip. Embleton's predecessor on the strip had been another doyen of rugged and gritty action strips - the redoubtable Graham Coton.

Embleton's previous story on the series had been set in the far east as the S.A.S. chaps waged war on the forces of Hirohito. His artwork as with elder brother Ron, was stunning, full of punch, aided and abetted by well researched historical accuracy to make the action that much more credible.

But this very last story although it starts plausibly enough is completely and utterly sabotaged in the very last episode. How this thing got past the TV Express editorial staff beats me. Mr Slinn (sage and sometime witness to the goings on at Racquet Court) if you're reading, this your opinion on what might have occurred would be most gratefully received.

After all the schoolboy audience who this stuff was aimed at would have twigged the OTT farcical touches immediately.

All images © Express Newspapers 2011


  1. What the...????

    Weren't these stories supposed to be based on real-life incidents? Possibly the precise details of how a 1960s British aircraft carrier had been temporarily projected back in time by twenty years was still considered too sensitive to reveal when this was published.

    More realistically this 'Deus ex Helicopta' ending has all the hallmarks of a sub-editor's hasty rewrite when it suddenly became necessary to wind up a particular storyline ahead of schedule. In fact it wasn't unknown for a serial to end forever with the hero in a life-or-death situation, to which somebody had added a terse postscript assuring the reader that he eventually escaped, turned the tables on the villain, and lived happily ever after...! :-)

  2. Not just the helicopters but note also the perverse introduction of the Siemens walkie talkie.

    Not exactly what the Wehrmacht (or more likely Waffen SS in this case) were using for two way communications in Yugoslavia.

    Siemens as part of the pre war German industrial base was co-opted by the Nazi Party into full scale military production. But even they hadn't quite got this far in 1944!

  3. As a matter of interest here's a scan of the episode of 'Strongbow the Mighty' from ZIP no.11 (March 15th 1958) where Gerry took over the strip from his brother:

    Presumably this was his first attempt at colour, but unfortunately the separation process appears to have been much cruder than Odhams used for Wulf, with the reproduction on later installments becoming increasingly flat and garish.

  4. Absolutely amazing Phil, especially bearing in mind that he would have been all of sixteen - seventeen at the most when he did this work.

    I really quite like the way he's worked with the colors, dropping in more black and key lines than would have been the case for his later work when he was working with higher color print specs.

  5. It may be my imagination but that Strongbow script has a strong feel of Michael Moorcock. I can certainly remember him saying that he worked with "both the Embleton brothers" during his time as a writer for British comics.