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DC THOMPSON

DIED - 21.11.92


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The Victor ran for 1657 issues and you could expect to pay 50 for issue 1 with the free gift of a Super Squirt Ring although it is very scarce.

I bought Victor weekly for several years between about 1961 and 1964.

A definite attraction was its free gifts which were usually football related: my favourite was a yellow plastic wallet with football statistics printed on it, in which weekly free cards (?) were then deposited. The best stories were also sport related. "The Tough of the Track" is unequivocally the finest athletics cartoon story ever told. Alf Tupper had all the qualities any top athlete could wish for: working class background, firm grasp of non-standard English (as in "I run the toff"), steady proletarian job (welding beneath the railway arches), economical and unvaried diet (fish and chips), deep rooted hatred of the upper classes, strong reservations about any foreigner especially eastern Europeans, and complete disrespect for authority whether British or eastern European. His long running career spanned at least the 1950s (the earliest race I know of was in prose in the 1957 "Adventure" annual), 60s and 70s. Not only did he continue running successfully into his late fifties but showed no signs of hair loss or modernisation of hair style, favouring a low friction quiff at all times.

"Gorgeous Gus", though far less revered, also deserves a high ranking despite being the complete antithesis to Alf. If Alf had ever met Gus, there would have been trouble. Gus was grotesquely rich but nevertheless favoured a career in first division football. Not for him the usual ninety minute drudgery: sporting a hand-made silk kit, Gus would only deign to come on the pitch to take free kicks or penalties. As possessor of a literally net-breaking shot, these brief appearances guaranteed victory after victory. He was assisted at all times by a personal valet who cleaned his boots on the touchlines and provided refreshments from a silver tray.

The name of one of the most eccentric cricketers ever to grace the English game completely escapes me. However, I believe his background may have been circus related. His unique skill lay in his slow, unusually high trajectory, looping bowling delivery which enabled him to drop the ball directly on to the bails from above with 100% accuracy. For a long time batsmen were powerless to defend against this..... until a circus related Australian batsman was drafted in. His technique was also unusual. Toes facing the bowler, he arched his body back over the stumps and walloped the vertically descending ball for six. Mercifully, this technique was soon out manoeuvred by the occasional conventional delivery or outstanding fielding on the ropes.

There were plenty of other good yarns, usually with a sporty or warrior twist, but these are the ones I remember vividly nearly forty years on. The gripping cover story was always, of course, a true tale of a valiant Brit winning a VC, victor always over the dreaded Hun. Was Rupert Murdock influenced by this boys' weekly?

I've made a further Alf-related discovery. I bought a Rover annual, late 1940s (not dated) with an eagle on the front, and who was there? Alf! So he was obviously shared around annuals, at least "Adventure" and "Rover" before he changed format. Actually, the Rover annual prose story is a classic, perfectly combining all the ingredients later included in the cartoon version: working class background (a large amount of authentic welding info), cockney speech though he clearly lives in the North/Midlands, foreigners, fish and chips, slipper bath (!!), the lot. Also, there is a remarkably illustration of Alf PRE-quiff, with curly hair! It's almost worth including on your site as an archetype! Given its prose, this wouldn't be impossible. - Chris Marshall, Brighton

The Miracle Bowler - Name was Joe Doone, who learnt how to bowl while knocking out (not killing, he tagged them) Seagulls. Charlie Snout was his Australian nemesis, but he somehow got the better of Snout by bowling something different. - Keith Hallam

I bought the "Victor" from the very first issue for maybe a year, and bought every issue for about the first 9 weeks. I remember that my favourite story was about a British heavyweight boxer, I think he was called Jimmie, who was injured in a fight with his evil adversary, who was called the Black Panther, although we don't know his real name. Jimmie loses his memory and forgets his own identity and goes missing, but somehow remembers how to box and uses his particular skill of dodging blows when he joins a travelling circus.

I think the story was called "Jimmie the Dodger" and it was about Jimmie's quest to find out who he is, and ultimately to defeat the Black Panther, who had caused Jimmie's concussion by using an iron knuckle duster hidden in his glove.

During about 9 episodes Jimmie eventually starts to unravel his past and is set for a final confrontation with the Panther, and wouldn't you know!? Issue 10 with the final episode was sold out at the newsagents and I never managed to get hold of it nor find out the end of the story!

The story was presented in a serious vein, not like the Alf Tupper stories for example, and was quite gripping to follow.

I was too young and protected to understand racial prejudice at that time, but only a few months prior to the start of the story the European Ingemarr Johansson had been defeated by the popular black American Floyd Patterson, and I think it was wrong for a children's story at the time, although common practice to revert to type, to present the anonymous baddie as black and relatively anonymous and the hero, Jimmie, as white.

I remember several other stories from issue #1....

H K Rodd, the "Wonder Man", a kind of superfit James Bond character "The Smasher" a powerful and unstoppable robot under the control of evil people, wreaking havoc accross the nation Joe Doone, the Cornish "drop" bowler with his famous "wrong'un" which he uses to defeat the Aussie's. Gorgeous Gus, the footballer with the amazingly powerful kick who waited in the penalty area for his team to pass to him but was never off-side! I also remember that I and all my friends who read "I flew with Braddock" had no realisation that this was fiction. - Ben McDonnell

The drawings of the aircraft were always amazingly accurate (this is more rare than you might imagine) and I wondered if the artist had any aviation background. - Richard Davis

If you have any other information on The Victor please drop us a line. Drop us a line.

 


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