Garth as drawn by Frank Bellamy
|Launch date||July 24, 1943; February 21, 2011 (reprints)|
|End date||March 22, 1997|
Garth was a comic strip in the British newspaper Daily Mirror from July 24, 1943, to March 22, 1997. The strip belonged to the action-adventure genre and recounted the exploits of the title character, an immensely strong hero who battled various villains throughout the world and many different chronological eras. Garth was widely syndicated throughout English-speaking countries during its long run. The 1960s Australian fast bowler Garth McKenzie was nicknamed after the comic strip hero.
Steve Dowling and Gordon Boshell were the originators of the Garth character, and at the time, took on 15-year-old John Allard, who stayed with the strip for its entire lifetime. After 59 adventures Dowling retired and handed Garth over to Allard, which he carried on until 1971 when Eagle comics' Dan Dare artist, Frank Bellamy, took over the art with Allard writing the scripts. Garth's longevity had been established by Don Freeman, who created almost every basic Garth plot on which the saga was built. Peter O'Donnell, Jim Edgar and Angus Allan also wrote extensively for the strip during its decades-long existence. Philip Harbottle is a leading Garth expert and collector of the strips, and he wrote several of the stories during the 1990s. Martin Asbury became Garth's artist after Frank Bellamy's death in 1976, drawing the strip and writing many of the stories until its final episode in 1997.
In 1993, Bill Storrie produced perhaps a dozen or so 60-page photocopied magazines titled The Gopherville Argus Special Edition No. 1 featuring Garth as a tribute to the writers and artists who had been involved with the strip. Most if not all Garth strips are now owned by King Features Syndicate.
As of Wednesday 13 August 2008, "Garth" has reappeared on the website of the Daily Mirror, drawn by the artist Huw J. Davies.
It started a run of reprints in the Daily Mirror in the issue dated Monday 21 February 2011.
Characters and story
Garth's time-travelling adventures lasted for over 50 years and covered 165 stories (plus two additional stories published in the Daily Mirror Book for Boys, 1970–71). In the backstory, Garth washed ashore in Shetland and was adopted by an elderly couple. Garth developed almost superhuman strength and eventually became a naval captain and all-round military genius. Garth travelled through many eras and confronted villains such as Madame Voss and Apollo. His true love was the ancient goddess-like figure, Astra. Garth's sidekick and mentor was Professor Lumiere, who psychoanalyzed the hero and recovered memories of his previous experiences.
Garth strips were reprinted as trade paperbacks on a number of occasions:
- Garth in "The Last Goddess" and "Romeo Brown", Daily Mirror, c.1960
- The Daily Mirror Book of Garth 1975, Fleetway Publications, 1975, ISBN 0-85037-139-2
- The Daily Mirror Book of Garth 1976, Fleetway Publications, 1976
- Garth Book One: "The Cloud of Balthus", Titan Books, 1984, ISBN 0-907610-34-X
- Garth Book Two: "The Women of Galba", Titan Books, 1985, ISBN 0-907610-49-8
As shown above, Garth has only been reprinted sporadically in the UK, but in recent years the All Devon Comic Collectors Club were allowed to reprint episodes on a strictly for members only basis.
It was announced that Penguin Books India were to issue the Complete Garth in a collectible 5-volume hardback graphic novel box set. This would comprise all 16,000 strips covering the 165 stories published in the Daily Mirror on 3,000 plus pages. The Penguin India reprint would be an Indian subcontinent-only production and the tentative release date was set for September 2009. However, Penguin Books India have now confirmed that the publication of the set has been postponed indefinitely.