Tuesday, March 12, 2013

X-Ray Specs Sees The Cover!

The next character to take over Buster's glorious front page is none other than X-Ray Specs, an all time favourite of mine, illustrated by the wonderfully talented Mike Lacey. Ray took over on issue dated 15th July, and despite the fact that the front cover is supposed to be the most attention grabbing part of a comic, the colours are all a bit dreary, as though one yellow suits all. Ray's skin for example, is the same colour as the box in the corner, which is the same colour as the pink sail of the boat in panel three.

But that aside, it was a wonderful cover, and led to one of the longest X-Ray Specs strips ever produced in a weekly comic - two and a half pages! The strip could easily have ended with the final panel on page two, but instead the script writer (or maybe even Mike himself) decided to extend it, and add in an extra joke at the end!

There's one more cover take-over left, and I'll be showing that very soon, so stick around!

Other posts in this series:

Tom Thug

Cliff Hanger


Captain Crucial


Lew Stringer said...

I don't know why they went with the limited colour method for this cover. As you know, the previous covers you've shown were hand coloured, but for some reason this one was done using colour overlays, like some interior strips.

Perhaps no one had time to colour it properly. A shame, because Mike's work looked great in full colour for summer specials and annuals.

Andy Boal said...

I'm going to suggest that it was originally planned as an inside story, with the front cover resized. The title and the pageturn box are both by Jack Oliver - and it would also explain why it was coloured as it would have been inside the comic.

Throughout Buster's 90s history as an "all colour" comic much of it was not full-colour with only basic block colours (or worse)

George Shiers said...

I think you could be right about it originally intended as an inside story, that would explain the colouring!

The block colouring didn't look too bad inside the comic, but on the front cover it doesn't work. And sometimes their "full-colour" inside was hardly full-colour, but you can't blame them for trying. After all, The Beano didn't go full colour until 1993, several years behind Buster.

Lew Stringer said...

Even if it was planned as an inside story, those colour overlays would still have been done to fit the cover format.

I doubt it would have been intended for the inside though, as there's not enough panels on the page. And those panels haven't been resized/enlarged.

X-Ray Specs was one of the most popular strips in Buster, so with the comic using some interior characters on covers occasionally it'd be a cert that this was intended for the cover. I just think it boils down to a colourist not having time to do it so they went with overlays, which would take far less timer than hand colouring it.

Andy Boal said...

Look at it slightly different. The front cover is four frames, same as the third page.

If you imagine frame 4 being cropped and reduced in size to the same size as the other frames, it would fit into two pages of 8 frames. My theory also makes more sense of Jack Oliver's hand captions being used in conjunction with a regular letterer's work (a standard banner title frame was used at this time) - if it had originally been planned for the front cover, the page turn and title would have been added by the regular letterer who did the rest of the page.

Wish I knew for sure!

Rexeljet Smith said...

Is there any chance that this is a reprint?

Apparently, X Ray Specs had a stint on the cover during the late 80's, as well as seeing the front cover of Monster Fun a few times.

I've heard conflicting stories about when abouts Mike Lacey left Fleetway. I read somewhere that he retired in the late 80's, somewhere else that he left in 1992, and I believe the Buster Index says that X Ray Specs was still being drawn by Mike (not reprints) in 1995.

George Shiers said...

I think it was 1995. Most of the artists working on Buster left then due to budget cuts and all the strips went into reprints. I believe only Jack Edward Oliver stayed on, mostly as a letter artist.