Billy Farmer was a thirteen-year-old orphan living with his Aunt Joan and Uncle Charlie in the town of Selbridge. In a rather unlikely (and not wholly original) turn of events, he gained superhuman strength, speed, reflexes and tree-climbing abilities (!) after being scratched by a radioactive leopard (called Sheba) while taking photos at Professor Jarman's experimental zoo for his school magazine. Naturally, he immediately donned a leopard-like costume left over from a pantomime (Dick Whittington) and began fighting crime (of which Selbridge had a surprising amount) while, in another not entirely unexpected twist, selling photos of himself to the local paper in order to help support his frail aunt! (Sadly, unlike Spider-Man, Billy's uncle was not a saintly old dead bloke, but an unfortunately living violent, lazy thug.) As time went on though, Billy's mutation continued: his eyes turned green and began to glow in the dark, his canine teeth became elongated like fangs, his senses became heightened, and he became increasingly aggressive (particularly when under stress) and began to prefer his meat extremely rare, suggesting a rather alarming gradual personality change.
The Leopardman's foes included the Cat Man (a burglar), Vampirello the human bat (a circus acrobat), the Ghost of Lurcher Creel, the Snow Beast (Conrad Klaws), the Roller Monster, the Alien (a wrestler), the Grey Ghost (a Leopardman robot), the Leopardman's Ghost, newspaper editor Thaddeus Clegg, and a police inspector named Craddock who believed him to be a dangerous menace (as did much of the town, an unfortunate consequence of patterning one's heroic identity on a lethal carnivore).
Appearances, Images, and QuotesEdit
- The strip ran in Buster from 27th March 1976 to 18th May 1985, after which the title began reprinting it in colourised form; the reprints lasted until about 1990.
- Artist Eric Bradbury also drew some episodes of the strip.
- It was reprinted in French in the comic Sunny Sun, and parts of it (the origin story and the final published adventure from the 1987 Buster Annual) were later reprinted in the independent British title Starscape.
- An alternate version of the Leopardman was one of the superheroes assembled to fight the Lloigor in the 2000 AD strip Zenith. He was killed by Mr. Why on Earth 666. This is not, however, considered an official part of the Leopard's continuity, particularly since 2000 AD had no legal right to use the character.
- Billy was briefly accompanied on his nocturnal adventures by his dog, Hunter (wearing a mask) but gave up on this rather silly idea when it began to endanger his secret identity.
- After he'd been around for a while, some enterprising Selbridge resident began producing Leopardman merchandise including transfers and jigsaw puzzles, which could be bought in local newsagents.