David Sque Interview Pt. 1 – The “Whizz, Bang, Pop” Stuff…

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My recent post about Roy of the Rovers (and the indelible mark certain stories, from that comic, left on me) set me off on one of my infrequent internet trawls to see what hard information I could dredge up about this great (and sadly missed) title.

Unsurprisingly (given the relative neglect1 suffered by British comics) I found precious little of substance on the creative talent behind what was, in its time, essential reading for every young fella with even a passing interest in football. Luckily enough, however, one (significant) avenue of exploration was open to me, since I had – over the last few years – exchanged a few emails with the man whose artwork on Roy of the Rovers remains the most iconic (and elegant) take on the character: Mr. David Sque.2

As royoftherovers.com reliably informs us:

David drew the Roy of the Rovers story from January 1975 to August 1986. He gave Roy a new image with the flowing blond locks he became famous for.

Essentially, then, David's span on the comic coincided with my most formative (and comic-devouring) years, so it's no surprise that I consider the period in question to be something of a 'Golden Age' for the strip (although I consider that opinion sound, even when subjected to objective scrutiny). Where better then for fústar.org to go for answers/clues/anecdotes than to the door of the man whose inimitable style made the character one of the most celebrated fictional sporting heroes of all time?

Fortunately for me, David was nothing but enthusiasm and cooperation personified when I asked him to submit to an interview, and the result, I hope, is something that will interest all those readers who once followed a comics industry that has (sadly, and perhaps terminally) suffered near total collapse.

Anyway, it is not our business, here, to dwell on such negative thoughts…so on with the show. Enjoy.

I guess an obvious place to start, David, is to ask if you were interested in comics as a child? If so, what would have been some of your favourites?

Ah, I was quite interested in comics…I wasn't much of a reader but because they had illustrations in them I suppose, I did enjoy comics. They were the thing in those days. That was your weekend entertainment, and reading matter. Because you know I've only become a reader of books, for instance, in my older age. I always thought, because of being an artist, that the usual thing of laying in bed and falling asleep reading a book, to me that was straining my eyes and wasting my eyes and eyesight, you know? I'm so lucky in that I only need glasses for close work now.

Anyway, I used to read Beano, Dandy, those sort of things…Tiger, whatever I fancied. I didn't have any favorites until the The Eagle came out, and when Eagle came out that really started my interest going. Not that I thought at that time I wanted to be a comic illustrator.

It was just that I loved the artwork in there, and I remembered going with my thru’penny bit, which I doubt you'll remember, to the local newsagent to buy my first Eagle, and it was just magical, it really was.

I see, and how did you first become interested in illustrating yourself?

Well, I went to art college, Poole college. It was a four year course for a national diploma, so I could get an NDD behind my name, not that that means anything. Basically it was to get another string to my bow, in case my eyesight gave out in later life, I could teach with that…or go into other things…but I enjoyed the course because it was so varied.

The first two years were basically composition, life drawing, fabric design, sculpture…all sorts of stuff as far as an intermediate course is concerned. Then you had to choose and either go to Bournemouth or Poole College of Art…so I decided to study graphic design.

Right now, how ironic things are. When I was doing my paintings, because I did paintings now and then and all sorts of work right across the board – portrait work being my favorite, but (alas) I was born too late because people will either have a photograph taken or…anyway they're not really into portraits. Anyway, the thing that used to really piss me off is that when they were reviewing our paintings and compositions and whatnot, when it came to mine they said, "Beautiful artwork – but that would make a good illustration." I was offended at the time!

[laughs] Right.

I thought, "It's not an illustration, it's a bloody painting for Christ's sake! I was really, really annoyed – but that was the path that I was meant to go.

Indeed.

So basically I was introduced to that world, funnily enough, by Yvonne Hutton.3 Her name was actually Yvonne Mullins (at the time) and I used to go to Poole Art College with her.

She was in the year above me, Yvonne. And she mentioned this guy Colin Page, and they were doing comic illustrations for children's newspapers, or whatever you want to call them. So I said that's interesting, and she said why don't you come out and meet him, so I went and met him and basically in the final year – in the summer holidays before the final term – I worked with him, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really brilliant. But when I went back to re-enroll, I was sitting there with this one guy – and he was a typical one of those guys, "If you can't do it, teach." He was a failed graphic designer! Great guy, don't get me wrong – and he asked, "What have you been doing this summer?" to which I replied, "Oh, I've been doing some comic illustrations…children's illustrations." He said "Oh, Christ!" and yelled across the whole hall to the rest of the staff shouting "Did you hear this? Squey's been doing whiz bang pop stuff!".

[laughs] So it wasn’t looked on too favourably…

No…and when I actually started the term, the principal called me into his office and said, "I heard this rumour that you were doing some children's illustrations, or comic illustrations. Is that true?" and I said, "Yeah, it's very interesting." And he said, "Oh come on, you're a graphic designer – you don't need to be doing that sort of thing." So I said, "Well, I enjoy it and that's a big plus for me, and I'm doing something different all the time. Plus the fact I'm totally autonomous – I'm doing it all, from start to finish, my own work.

What publications were you working on at that stage, David?

At that time, when it was just part time and I was doing it while I was at college, they were mainly the annuals – the Christmas annuals, and I would go help this guy with his work. So the irony of it was when I actually completed the course and went full time, the first job I got I actually earned twice as much as the principal! And I said, well that's a nice little, you know, kick! [laughs] Anyway, back to the story of Colin Page – the guy that Yvonne worked for and I worked with as well – he was a guy from London who thought I was a hick from the sticks…

[laughs] So where were you actually born?

Bournemouth – that's were I'd lived most of my life. They are sort of linked together Bournemouth and Poole, but I was born and raised in Bournemouth. So he thought that I was a hick, but I showed interest in wanting to do his type of work because I liked it…and he lived just outside of Wareham in a little village, he had his house there. They were the idyllic young conservative couple from London – 2.1 children, you know, and the good life and I envied them that actually! The good life. Above the stables (he had a stable) was his studio.

So, I would do the penciling, and he would say, "Make this bigger, alter this" whatever. I'd make corrections and send it to him and he'd say, "Yep, go ahead, just alter that a little bit, then go to ink." So then I would ink it all in and he would look at it and check it and say, "Just make that a little bit so and so.�? So he was teaching me that that field of work.

What stories were you illustrating then, can you remember?

Well, I did some work on Skid Solo if you remember that…I just helped him on those sorts of things, and he was… what was he doing at the time? Fighting 13, I think it was called. It was a Rugby story.

I think I remember that…

Umm… He actually took that on from Joe Colquhoun, and Joe was actually a friend of mine.

Right! Of course Joe was a legend with… Charley's War being what he's most famous for I suppose.

Yeah. Well he actually lived nearby in Swanage. So there's a link there…lovely guy, actually, really lovely. So, anyway, when I was doing all the work myself, I would be getting all the money. I would give him [Colin Page] some money for use of the studio while I was out there, and the idea was we would become partners, or colleagues – which in my field of work is a brilliant idea, because you cannot afford to be ill. The amount of times I've been working, two o'clock in the morning sitting on my desk with an anorak on, and two pieces of rolled-up kitchen roll up my nose…and working even though I'd got the flu. The buck stops with you. You can't say, "Oh I'm fed up with this, I'm going off." or "I'm going to have a sick leave" or whatever.

So that was the principle and basically after a year working with him I thought, "Something's not right here." I didn't think I was getting enough money, etc., etc. And there was a mutual friend – John Batchelor who's a very famous cutaway illustrator – and I rang him up when Colin was away on holiday (I think he’d gone to Ibiza for a couple of weeks). So I rang up John Batchelor (who knew all the contacts in London) and I said I said to him, "John, this is David. If you want that this phone call never took place, I'd quite understand, but this is the position", and I explained that all the work went through Colin and I had no contact with London at all (IPC magazines who were in Faringdon Street at the time).

I could imitate his work and he could imitate mine, right? So it would have been a golden opportunity to make life easier for each other. Stand in for each other, take holidays, breaks, sickies, whatever you want. It would have been brilliant…but he was a crook from London [laughs]. I said "This is the position, John. He gets the work, it goes out in his name and so and so", and he said, "That's not right. Christ, I didn't know he was doing that." He said, "Right, I'm going to make a few phone calls." So he rang me back and he said, "Can you come to London on Friday with me?" And I said yes. So, we went up to London and I met all the big bosses. Within half an hour, they said, "We know your work, we like your work, and they gave a job straight away – within half an hour. Then they took me out for a three-hour lunch in the Red Lion, off Faringdon Street where all the hacks go, and it was brilliant. So that's basically when my career took off.

And what age were you at that stage, David?

I was twenty one.

Okay, right. So really not long out of college, at all…

No, I finished college when I was nineteen-going-on-twenty, and that would have been…around 1966. So anyway, I subsequently found out that all my work went up as his and in his name. and I was getting less than half the fee, though I was doing all of it! So he was screwing me, and he was screwing Yvonne, obviously, who was also working there.

So as far as the people in London were concerned , the work was his?

Yes. They thought that he did it!

Okay, because that was a question I was going to get on to in a while, but you didn't have any credits in those days. The American comics always had a sort of "who did what" but with British comics you were generally anonymous, weren't you?

The reason for that was there was a big rivalry between IPC Magazines and DC Thomson, the one based in Scotland, and I have done some work for them, but they wouldn't allow you to sign your artwork because they didn't want you to be poached. I used to get the odd sort of fan letter written to "whoever the artist was", because of their rule of not being allowed to sign anything or be acknowledged…and if I remember rightly, 2000AD was the first one that did it.

Yes, they did, and some of those people became, not household names exactly, but they became known within the comics world because of those credits: the credits for lettering, the credits for art, the credits for the writing…

It was a stupid viewpoint of theirs [IPC/DC Thomson] really. Because if they gave credit and their artists were appreciated then it would have led to healthy competition, and then everyone would have been happy. They would have got better artwork, the best artwork, and the artists would have been paid proper money. But DC Thomson for instance didn't know what IPC were paying their artists and vice versa. It was an insular family type business, all secretive.

Interesting.

They guarded their artists jealously, but they didn't pay them accordingly! It's never been fantastic money. I've lived well, but I've been lucky. I've had a career working at doing something people consider a hobby. You know, I love it.

Indeed, so can you perhaps talk us through the path from there to Roy of the Rovers, which, I suppose, is the next step.

Roy of the Rovers

Right, so the first job I had that I was given then was "The Hand of Khan", and it was a guy that was a Viking….a super hero that used to fly around and he had this steel hand. Now this also links with the fact that my style is an amalgam. Basically – and everyone does this – anyone creative is inspired by different people. So first, on one of the pages on your site, you talked about "The Hand of Khan"…sorry "The Steel Claw". Now the guy that used to do that, or at least he did it at one stage, was a guy called Velasquez [sp].

His artwork was the best ever. Absolutely superb. He just used the lines – that's when I learned to illustrate with a brush. Most people use a pen when they are doing ink wor, but I use a brush, because it is far more expressive, and that's what Velasquez used to use. Where he comes from I don’t know…probably South American – they used to get illustrators from all over the place. So, Velasquez was my first influence.

Anyone else that springs to mind?

Well there was…Barry Mitchell, I liked a lot of things he did with his line work…and then there was Ron Embleton, he was a friend of mine, a good friend.

I'm trying to think…what would he have done?

You would have known him from fantastic work that he did in Look and Learn.

Ah, I see.

He had a very distinctive style because he used to actually draw with colour – it was all strokes. He didn't blend or anything, it was all strokes. And he then went on to do 'Wicked Wanda' in Penthouse – did you ever see that?

Ehm…

No you were a good little boy. A good little Catholic boy!

Absolutely! I wouldn’t know anything about that sort of thing…ahem…

[laughs] Anyway, lovely guy unfortunately he died suddenly aged 58, and poor old Joe Colquhoun, he died quite young too. Actually, when I started Roy of the Rovers I had an awful lot to do and I went to see Joe to see if he could help me…and he helped me out, drawing in a few pages for me and then I'd pick them up and ink them in. All right, we can go back to the story of my life so to speak. So first there was "The Hand of Khan", then…

Sorry David, what publication was that in?

Well you've got me there, it was either Tiger or Victory – was it Victory…or…

Victor maybe?

Victor. That's right. One of those two anyway. Then I went on and for a short while I did "Slogger", which was about an Australian Cricketer, and more of a funny, cartoony type of style. Then I got my first sort of serious job which was "Philip Marlowe". Now he was a secret agent and his cover was being a professional golfer. He was like a James Bond character.

[laughs] I don't think I remember him…

With a little fat cat caddy as his sidekick. Actually when I look back at some of those drawings they were horrendous! But I thought they looked good at the time. Then they created a story for me, and that was "Martin's Marvelous Mini".

Martin was me, because I was into motor racing and whatnot and they used to race and rally this mini, and went all over the world. Funny little story, they were going though Africa and I said, "Oh I'll do a distance scene" – it was center-page and full colour. So you've got, in the distance, the mini with a long plume of dust behind it, and I thought for interest I'd put a tiger in the foreground.

So I spent a lot of time on it and it went up to London on delivery and Barry Tomlinson who was the guy who was my editor then and is my editor now – well not my editor he's my scriptwriter. So I sent it up and Barry said "Brilliant, love the artwork, lovely tiger, could you do a redraw. They're only found in India!" I thought "Oh Shit!". I didn't think, you know!

[laughs] And again… I'm trying to remember, what publication was "Martin's Marvelous Mini" in?

It was either Lion or Tiger. I think it was Lion. Yes, it was Lion, I'm sure.

Funnily enough, even though some of these stories would have been before my time, I ended up getting a lot of comics from these local 'Sales of Work' (as they were called) which were in local parish halls raising money for various religious organizations, the missions etc. There would always be mothers who would, very cruelly, take all their son's comics and…

[Laughs] Right!

…bring them into the jumble sale and of course, I'd buy them all. I still have some of them. So there'd be plenty of comics from the 60s. I was born in the 1970s but I had all these old British comics and a lot of these stories sound pretty familiar to me. What year are we talking about here, by the way?

Hmmm… I think something like 1968. Somewhere around then. Now then, Yvonne at the time was doing "Roy of the Rovers", okay, and that was in Tiger.

Yes, because the comic didn't exist at that stage – the actual, separate Roy of the Rovers comic.

Right, no. Now then, so Yvonne went on to do something else and so "Roy" was in the offing…but of course they pigeonhole you: "Oh David is motor racing." And I was talking to Barry and he said, "Oh Yvonne's giving up 'Roy of the Rovers'". So I said, "Well I wouldn't mind doing it….I'll do it for a while to help out if you want", and I actually did both stories – both in full colour- for something like three months, which was a nightmare!

[laughs]

Anyway, they said, "This is football! You’re not interested in football" and I said, "No I can draw anything." People are people, figures are figures – just put a football shirt on them or whatever! Now of course I was sworn to secrecy and couldn't tell the Sunday papers that I didn't like football when I was doing the national footballing hero in comics! Obviously I've played it, but I'm a doer not a watcher. I loved playing football at school and in later years.

But did you not feel overawed taking on a major football strip when you weren't particularly keen on the game yourself?

Not at all, no. Now don't get me wrong. My pet was "Martin's Marvelous Mini". It was my story. So I was just helping out. Of course, one of the things was to cure money problems – get some money in the bank – the joys of being self employed! So after three months I was swimming in it – no worries at all – and I rang up Barry [Tomlinson] and I said "I'm sorry, it's getting too much. I'm going to have to give up 'Roy'"." They said “No, no, no, no, no. We love the way you're doing 'Roy'. You're going to have to give up 'Martin's Mini'."

[Groans] They didn't really give me much choice…but to sweeten it they said we're going to make "Roy" bigger and "Martin's" was going to go back into black and white anyway. I don't think it did for a while but it was just to tell me that I was going to lose money if I made that decision. Of course I could have said, "Stuff the lot", you know, "I'm self employed", but I went on to do "Roy" full time, even though I wasn’t a real football fan.

You see, I hate what goes along with football, that's the problem. I follow all the big international games – England, whatever when they're playing. But it's just that, I suppose, through most of that time there was lots of hooliganism and violence and whatnot…

Of course, that was probably the worst period for that kind of thing in England…

Yeah, it really was, and I remember that…Barry went on to supervise six publications at one point: Lion, Tiger, Roy of the Rovers and three more that he'd taken over. So he was group editor. And my editor, who came in to do Roy was Ian Vosper. Lovely, lovely guy.

So he was my immediate editor on Roy and he rang up one day and said "Hey! Portsmouth (…he was originally from Portsmouth…) are playing Bournemouth at Bournemouth. Would you fancy going?" And I said "Yeah…alright", and that was the first professional football match I had ever been to. I could not believe it, we were up in the back of the stands, watching the Portsmouth fans run across from left to right, making loads of noise, this is while the game is going on! Then they were running back, right to left, followed by the Bournemouth fans. Then they'd stop, and say, "Oh someone scored a goal… Yay!" and then back to the fighting again!

God! [laughs]

And I thought if this was bloody football, forget it. It was a nightmare outside too. I remember once being on one of the back roads in a shop, and I was talking to the owner. I had an Aston Martin at the time – a DB6 – my pride and joy and it was parked outside and we heard this noise. So we went out and there was this football crowd, because it was a Saturday afternoon before the match.

So they went down the corner, about a hundred yards down the road, and then one of the tail-enders said, "Whoa, look at that! An Aston Martin!" And they all come screaming back up, marching towards the car, and I thought, "Well, fuck this for a game of soldiers" so I got in, started it up, and drove straight through ‘em, because, you know, you didn't know what kind of damage they could have done. It's just that feeling that totally put me off football.

I can totally understand that, in a way. I've always loved football, and obviously, I loved football stories in comics as well. But then again, I've been to relatively few professional football matches – being Irish – because we have a very tiny, nonexistent almost, soccer league here. So I've definitely been insulated from that aspect of things. I never experienced that kind of feeling, that sort of hostility.

Unfortunately, fan is short for "fanatic," and that's what the mentality was.

Very tribal as well…

Yeah, very tribal and very territorial. So fans that went to watch an away match just risked their lives! Because they were going into foreign territory, and like you see the fights in the bars where it all starts out friendly, drinky drinky and whatnot, and then there's the, "Ah, you're wankers" and so on and then “Whoa!�?, it all takes off, with, "You're rubbish," etc, etc., and it's just bloody tribal war again!

It's something I never considered. Now that you actually mention it, when you started doing the strip it was a particularly nasty time, wasn't it, In terms of that sort of stuff? They say football has become more family-friendly these days. I don't know if that's true but…

I would definitely say so. I mean, there are still the firms that just go for a fight. Those still exist but it's kept out of the stadiums now.

What I was going to say to you as well, was that I found it strange when you said that you weren't a fan because I remember at the time reading the comic thinking – and I won't mention any names – that some of the other football strips used to feature action that was kind of incredible. It was a bit daft, you know, people dribbling the length of the field and scoring ridiculous bicycle kicks and so on, but I always felt with Roy that it was pretty rooted to reality. There wasn't really that sort of ridiculous end of things, you know?

Well, one that was down to the scripts, and two, I wanted to get away from the 'super hero'. I never drew him as a super hero. Actually this leads me on to a story. When I was doing it for about a year full time it started to get really popular. Now whether that was my artwork or just the feeling at the time, I don't know, but they decided that it warranted bringing out a magazine of its own, and that's how Roy of the Rovers (the comic) was born.

Now, getting into that, I chatted with Barry [Tomlinson] about it and we decided that it would be a good idea to make him a real character. Okay, now the downside of that is that it spells the death knell of the character, and it actually ended up being (essentially) Son of Roy of the Rovers (at the very end).

But that's the natural progression, as soon as you establish an age. There were always jokes, of course, because he started in…1954 I think it was, and he was a perpetual hero. The jokes were, “Oh Roy Race must be 55 by now!�? and all this sort of thing, but of course in the true hero mould it was ongoing, "no set period", you know. So it could go on and on forever. Anyway, we decided to make him a real character. But you know there was this cut-throat business side, and hierarchy in the company. Barry is a lovely, lovely guy and a good ideas man, and he went to his boss, who was the big group editor – he was a nasty piece of work actually – and Barry goes to him for a meeting and the guy says to him "How's this going, how's that going, how's Roy of the Rovers going?" And Barry says "Great, we've got several ideas about it. We want to make him a real character, marry his secretary Penny4, and have kids." And the guy said "Oh, crap idea! Bollocks! That will never work."

A month later – Barry told me this – a month later they had to go to the top floor, to the managing director, editor in chief. So they are all sitting around this big table, and they talked to all the different people present, and the big cheese says to the guy in question, "Well what's happening about Roy of the Rovers? That's looking good". And the guy says "Yes, actually, I've had a brilliant idea. It might be a good idea if he got married – married his secretary – and had kids, and became a real character". And Barry had to sit there and just listen to that….even though it was Barry's idea and this guy had pooh-pooh'd it!

Bloody hell…

And this guy just stood up there and took the credit for it – "Yeah, good idea, great! Go for it!".

So Barry was forced to bite his lip…

Yeah, he couldn’t do anything, but that's the way of business isn't it? Corporate business anyway. That's why I've been well out of it, and I've never had a boss. I work for me. Mind you, I've been a bastard of a boss – I won't let myself have time off for Christmas, and I'm not allowed to be sick.

[laughs] What about some of the writers who were working on the strip at the time. Whatever about yourself and people like you who did the artwork, the writers of the period were pretty anonymous. I don't know anything about them to be honest…I don't even know anybody's name.

Ummm… I can't think of the guy who did Roy – I can't think of his name, because I loathed him! He was like an out of work actor, but he owned a pub, and his wife ran it and he was upstairs writing all the scripts. Every time I opened the envelope with the script – he smoked very heavily – and all you could smell was nicotine wafting out of the envelope [laughs]. But I didn't like him, though I actually quite liked his scripts. I can't for the life of me think of his name. Yvonne didn't like him either.

And Yvonne had worked on Roy before you had?

Yes, very talented as well. Unfortunately they had a hold on her and she didn't leave Colin Page. She was angry when I told her all the things that I did, and I think he calmed her down- just gave her a bit more money or whatever.5

Okay, so now's probably a good time to start talking about how the whole process – from start to finish – of creating the average weekly strip on Roy. Could you describe how it went?

Okay, basically how I used to go about Roy of the Rovers was the same way I do now. First I get the script. Basically it will be…a scene description, the characters involved, and then the dialogue, Okay, so first off, you divide it, in the case of Roy, into pages. Some frames have to be bigger than others of course. That's one thing I will say I've never been that good at is page layout. There are some better artists than I as far as page layout is concerned. Occasionally I would get an inspiration and I would do some good things, but I was just run of the mill as far as page layout was concerned I must admit.

Well now, actually, that you mention it – I do remember one page that sticks in my memory. It was the time when Roy was due to leave Melchester to join Walford and that whole saga. I do remember a full page with him having various memories (in 'memory bubbles') of past events and what have you…and that was a real favorite of mine as a kid, because it was a pretty dynamic image with lots going on.

[laughs and feigns voice] Oh I have me moments!

[laughs] Anyway go ahead.

So I divide it up into pages then I say "Right, I've got five, six, seven, eight frames on this page – which one do I give dominance to?" Goal scoring ones in Roy were difficult because they had to take up space. So basically the format that I would work to is…say we've got frame one and it will say: "Here is Roy talking to Blackie Gray" and whoever. Then you go to the dialogue. Now English you read left to right, so say you've got three characters – the first one's got to go top left (balloon) the second one has go to go top right, then the third person has got to be below that. You can have them all in a row if you can fit them in, you see, but I never liked putting balloons on anything. On action, on people, whatever. So having done that, I would then imagine the three characters chatting…and their expressions. Then I would be like a camera – walking around that group until I got the best view and the best distribution of the balloons…so they're readable.

Okay.

Because London would go bloody ape if they were unreadable. I mean, back in the past, I've seen pages where they've had to draw arrows in [laughs] and number the boxes because the artist hasn't done it right, you know?

That's a strange thing too, but I guess you develop a certain 'comic literacy' that means you just know what order these things are supposed to fall in. I don't know…but maybe if you showed it to someone who'd never read a comic in their life they'd find it hard to follow the conversation…

Yeah, that’s true.

But I think as a kid, you would figure it out, because of certain familiar conventions or whatever…

Yeah.

So, was that standard then, that you would – because I'm trying to think of what the job would be for the letterer – you would place the balloons yourself?

No, though I would do an undersized balloon. Because it did really annoy me later on when I was doing colour and they'd say, "Don't leave any balloon spaces. Leave empty spaces", but there was a lot of work that would get covered up and it really teed me off.

Yeah, I've often thought that must be annoying! All your good work covered up…

I'd be thinking "Right then I'll just leave acres of sky to put the balloons in!"

Well it must have been good having the crowd to put the balloons over as well….

Yeah and I actually used to enjoy – I had a great trade going – of putting friends in on the advertising hoardings, so when I was courting my ex I'd put "Jennifer's Salon" or "Jennifer's Hairdressers" on the hoardings during the matches, you know?

[laughs] Very good.

So I did everything but the balloons. Anyway as an aside, the greatest disappointment in my artistic life, and a real bring-you-down-to-earth thing was this: Where I used to live, where I grew up, there was heath land over the back, and they were gradually filling in the valley with rubbish – you know, land fill. Now none of my friends and family ever threw out magazines. Those went to me, because I always wanted to draw everything accurately. So I would thumb through every magazine I could possibly read and tear out references for whatever I had to draw. I can draw most things I want now off the top of my head unless I need a special car. I think, oh, I'll put this guy in a Lamborghini. Now I go on the Internet and I'll go to images and I'll get a Lamborghini and away we go. But then it was magazines.

Now I used to take my dog for a walk over the heath land and go by this rubbish dump. I'm one of those people who cannot pass a skip without rummaging through it, and the amount of things I get out of skips you wouldn't believe. I've always been that way. One man's rubbish is another man's gold!

[Laughs] I hear you. You've got a kindred spirit here.

The amount of things I've got out of skips and put right because of mechanical knowledge or whatever, mended or fixed and for nothing, right? Anyway, so the point that I was getting to was…I was walking along and there was a copy of Roy of the Rovers with shit all over it…

I had always had an idealistic view that my art was so wonderful that it was pinned up on kids' walls. But no, it went in the bin! [laughs] So that's the full cycle, from nothing to rubbish!

    End of Part 1

So we'll leave it there, dear readers, for now, as that's about the half-way mark. Lots more goodies to come (before the weekend) in the second, and final, part. David is a terrific conversationalist and I honestly feel, if it hadn't been for the strain put on his layrnx and my telephone bill, that we could have made this into 5, 6, or 100 parts…but 2 large slices should be enough to keep comics lovers happy.

In the next installment hear tales of Spandau Ballet, 'Toilet Paper', and the death of the British comics industry.

Till then…

[tags]Roy of the Rovers,Roy Race,David Sque,comics,Beano,Dandy,Tiger,Eagle,Charley's War,football[/tags]

Footnotes
  1. In comparison to Marvel/DC stuff. [back]
  2. Now living in sunny Spain. [back]
  3. The artist who drew the Roy of the Rovers strip immediately before David. [back]
  4. Which he eventually did. [back]
  5. David asked me to mention Yvonne Hutton's (nee Mullins) tragic, and early, death. As David himself puts it "On holiday somewhere, her husband was driving, and the two kids in the back and they're coming back towards Dorchester – they lived in Weymouth – and there was a new dual carriageway and they were talking and it was night-time and they went up the wrong side and hit a lorry head on. It was a tragedy. She was a lovely girl. A lovely, lovely girl." [back]

March 23, 2006

15 responses to David Sque Interview Pt. 1 – The “Whizz, Bang, Pop” Stuff…

  1. Twenty Major said:

    Excellent.

  2. Martin said:

    Well done. Love the old school brit comic stuff you cover.

    And sure, I love all my ‘cool’ fancy yank comics and graphic novels but 70′s and 80′s British stuff will always be where my heart is.

    Still buying 2000ad at 35 (struggled through the rubbish 90′s incarnation) and sometimes miss that there’s nothing else along side it in the newsagents.

    It was always great as a kid to get my regulars (Action and Bullet, then 2000ad and Marvel UK’s Star Wars) and if I had some extra pence pick up a Tiger, Roy, Speed, Eagle, Hotspur, Battle, Warlord etc etc or one of the funnies… Happy Days!

    I hope David is aware that he and his contemporaries are responsible for me and lots of others going into the ‘graphic arts’. At an art college entrance interview when asked the artist that I most admired and most influenced me I replied Mike McMahon (Judge Dredd).

    Can’t wait for the rest of this…

  3. fústar said:

    Cheers Twenty.

    Martin,

    Glad you’re enjoying the Brit comic coverage…hopefully this interview will lead on to more.

    You’re a braver man than me if you managed to make it through the 90s reading 2000 AD…or practically any mainstream comic for that matter. The 80s was, in hindsight, a real final feast before the famine…and I doubt anyone will ever look back on comics of the 90s with the kind of fondness we’re indulging in here.

    I don’t know how conscious David is of his influence (given the relative low-profile of British stuff online) but I’ll pass on your best to him. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

  4. Fergal said:

    Random ROTR thoughts prompted by this excellent post:

    1. A plotline where Roy Jnr, was kidnapped. Roy was obviously greatly distressed, not getting a lot of sleep, and looking generally haggard. Said haggardness graphically represented by stubble-suggesting scribbles on his face.

    2. “Racey’s Rocket!”

    3. Roy calling his wife “Pen”.

    4. Thinking it’d be funny to have a Viz-type parody about a character called “Roy Racist”

    5. The strip about the Scottish team with the short, round bespectacled striker (name, anyone?)

    6. “The boots are making me run!”
    Please put me out of my misery and tell me the name of the footy legend who previously owned Billy’s Boots

    7. The Hard Man

  5. fústar said:

    Just to put you out of your misery Fergal…

    5) The strip you refer to was originally “Hot Shot Hamish”, featuring Hamish Balfour, the possessor of the world’s most ferocious shot (cue defenders leaping out of their socks/boots to escape being hit), and his pal Wee Wally. They were later joined by the portly Kevin Mouse aka “Mighty Mouse”, a master of dribbling (who worked as a hospital orderly/nurse (?) and previously had his own strip). At that stage the strip changed its name, unsurprisingly enough, to “Hot Shot Hamish and Mighty Mouse”.

    6) The previous owner of Billy’s Boots was Dead Shot Keen.

    As for (7), Johnny “Hard Man? Dexter actually featured in three strips: “The Hard Man”, “Dexter’s Dozen”, and (eventually) “Roy of the Rovers” itself. I’ll give you a bonus point if you remember the name of the flamboyant, Brian Clough-esque, manager he worked under in the first two strips!

    Tough one…

  6. Martin said:

    Yep those 90′s progs were read once and now sit on the shelf just to keep me a “Seto Thargo” (remember all those Tharg phrases?). Rubbish stories and murky painted artwork – horrible.

    I still re-read progs 80 to about 500 over and over again – a golden age.

    However since Rebellion bought the title things have improved a LOT. Here was a video game company of guys brought up on 2000ad and they brought the ‘love’ back. And they brought John Wagner back to Dredd. Still the odd dross, but pretty solid on the whole. And nice coloured line art along side B&W stuff, since that’s not considered a sin anymore.

    Also check out the latest “Extreme” reprint edition out this week. Early 80′s Rogue Trooper stories from annuals and specials (couple of Alan Moore’s in there) wrapped in a stunning new Mike McMahon cover.

    Anyone remember the Alan Class series? Creepy Worlds, Secrets of the Unknown etc

    Billy’s Boots was good but he was no Safest Hands in Soccer ;)

  7. fústar said:

    Martin,

    I do indeed remember all the Tharg lingo, sadly better than I remember many French expressions, despite doing it for 6 years in secondary school…

    Most of my progs from the ‘Golden Age’ were donated (without my knowledge) to one of the very ‘Sales of Work’ I mention in the interview, so even I was not immune to the cruelty of a “Sure they’re only stupid comics” mother (I’ve forgiven her now…just).

    Haven’t read 2000 AD in a long time, but have heard good things about the Rebellion era. Nice to see proper black and white comic art returning since some of the most memorable ‘Golden Age’ stuff was gloriously rendered in B&W. Simon Bisley’s influence cast a baleful shadow over much 90s ‘painterly’ stuff…and led to utterly gratuitous, show-off crap that did nothing to serve the story.

    “Safest hands in Soccer”? Jeez…that Rick Stewart was such a square…

  8. Martin said:

    I know! Did he ever turn out to be a robot or an alien? I always felt he was.

    You guys have started me off and I found this:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,6903,1093419,00.html

    I can’t believe there’s no mention of Action’s “Look Out For Lefty”. It was great. He had Roy Race’s hair but was a tough kid living with his Grandad. The non-footballing side of the story was like Steptoe & Son. It was famously pulled after Lefty’s girlfriend (who could beat *me* up) lobbed a bottle at a player that fouled him.

    Classic!

  9. fústar said:

    Actually, having looked at the Observer list in question, I realise I should have distinguished between Rick Stewart (from “Goalkeeper”) and his da Gordon Stewart (from “Safest Hands in Soccer”). Rick was the real drip of the family, but was never outed as a robot (to the best of my knowledge) despite only conceding 2 goals in 650 games (or something).

    The Observer also confirms that Kevin Mouse was a medical student and that the team he and Hamish played for was Princes Park. Always felt that the artwork in that strip owed something to the marvelous Albert Uderzo of Asterix fame. Must ask David if he remembers who illustrated that…

    No (immediate) memory of “Look out for Lefty” though it sounds delightful. The rough end of stuff was also dealt with (in slightly tamer fashion) by “Nipper” featuring the eponymous Nipper Lawrence (who failed to make the Top 10). It was a grim, coal-dust coloured, bit of ‘social realism’ (well…by comics standards) that always left me feeling slightly uncomfortable.

  10. Fergal said:

    Dead Shot Kean!! I can sleep at night once again.

    The Hard Man’s manager remains a blank to me (though I do remember a flamboyant agent called Sol Myson, drawn in a style which I now recognise as being worryingly similar to anti-semetic cartoons of rich, grasping jews, i.e. big nose, waistcoat, rings, cigar.)

  11. Martin said:

    Lefty (this time getting a bottle chucked at him) here:

    [Link]

    I thought maybe I was getting my bottle throwing stories mixed up, but I checked some reprints I have and yep, his girlfriend also threw one at a player.

    Two bottle throwing incidents! Also Lefty keeps kicking balls at opponents, getting them in the gut, the nads, whatever and he even smacks a ball at a supporter. Never got that in Tiger… God, Action was great!

    I suppose this is what David was saying he hated about football… Lefty is the ANTI-RACE. But I love ‘em both…

  12. fústar said:

    Fergal,

    The manager in question was a small, rotund, balding chap called…Victor Boskovic.

    Martin,

    Thanks for turning me on to ‘Lefty’. It’s superb!

  13. copernicus said:

    Fergal, Billy’s Boots was discussed on the last Roy post here on fustar.

    As for Lefty, 16 year old school boy?? He looks like Denis Waterman after a feed of pints down the Winchester.

    Still, looked like a great strip.

  14. Sean said:

    Victor Boskovic who managed Mighty Mouse was also featured as the manager in a stoty I believe called The Terrible Twins about twin soccer players Gavin and Guy (?)
    Princes Park players and coaching staff had the best names!
    Does anyone remember Tommy’s Troubles and Barnes United – the drawings of them scoring goals always made them look like they were fifty yards out!

  15. Pingback: Roy of the Rovers back in time for World Cup

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