Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, July 03, 2010
      ( 7/03/2010 08:17:00 PM ) Bill S.  

“I WASN’T EXPECTING ALL THIS AGGRO WHEN I TOOK ON THIS JOB!” In a canny attempt to ride the World Cup wave, British publishers Titan Books recently released a collection of the beloved British football comic, “Roy of the Rovers,” as a World Cup Special. Centering on the exploits of Roy Race, stalwart player/manager for the fictional Melchester Rovers, “Roy of the Rovers” ran from the fifties until the early nineties, first as a serialized two or three-page strip in the weekly comic magazine Tiger, then as its own weekly title in the seventies. Aimed at a young boy readership, the strip maintained a clean-cut veneer that’s exemplified by its hero’s blanket disavowal of football violence in the 1970’s (in one reprinted outing from that period, we’re told that the Rovers “held the distinction of being the only club in the league which was almost totally free of football hooliganism”). While this may have ultimately contributed to the series’ demise in the more jaded nineties, I suspect it’s one of the selling points for Titan’s current series of “Roy” reprint collections.

Though it’s subtitled the World Cup Special, in reality, none of the stories featured in this large trade paperback actually occur at that fabled competition. In the opening story (from 1966), in fact, Roy misses a chance to play for Britain after he gets a “nasty knock” on his ankle during a charity event. To make up for this disappointment, the whole team of Rovers is sent to Australia on a soccer tour (since, apparently, playing soccer down under isn’t as physically risky as it is at the World Cup), where our hero meets his long-lost rancher uncle Cappy Cuttle. Cappy gets the lads involved in a less formal World Cup of immigrant soccer players from around the globe, then secretly bets his ranch that the boys to win the competition. Unknown to both Cappy and Roy, jealous nephew Dick Cuttle has been trying to sabotage the Rovers’ chance at winning, at one point sneaking a boxing kangaroo into the team’s training quarters. Of course, Roy and company ultimately come through for Cappy, but not without some rocky moments.

In a later story, Roy uses his vacation time from the Rovers to manage a “B Squad” of footballers in a home international tourney. His big nemesis proves to be the leader of the American team, Harvey Dallas, who has a grudge against Roy for turning an offer the year before to coach the U.S. World Cup team. Calling it an “insult to Uncle Sam,” Dallas vows to humiliate Race’s squad, dooming Roy’s hope for a “relaxed and friendly” soccer competition. Those boorish Yanks’ll do it every time.

Titan’s collection of “Roy” tales, interspersed with photos and articles written to appeal to the football-mad boy, is appealingly produced. The earliest stories, including a three-page curiosity where Roy dreams about competing at the World Cup, are predominately printed in black and white, while the later tales -- from a time where Roy was finally given his own weekly comic book title -- are in color. Though the volume doesn’t clearly annotate its stories (the only ones to receive writer and artist credit are Tom Tully and Brit comics pro Mike White in the final tale), you can usually gauge when they were published, at least, by the length and cut of Roy’s hair.

To a newcomer to the series, the rest of Roy’s teammates are a largely indistinguishable crew, though a couple of newcomers are provided their own quick plotlines. In one tale, the Rovers’ newest goalie turns out to be a spitting double for the king of the south American country of El Manador (to the west of El Humidor right?); in the last, Roy considers offering a clownish B Squadder a place on his beloved Rovers, but will the boys back home tolerate his goonish hi-jinx? Couldn’t tell ya, since the book ends before Roy introduces him to the rest of the Rovers. What’s important is whupping them upstart Americans -- and you can be darn sure that takes place.

(First published on Blogcritics.)


# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter