Anthony John Harding
9 January 1942
West Ham, London
|Died||12 January 2014|
Isle of Wight
|Occupation||Illustrator of boys' adventure comics|
|Known for||Roy of the Rovers, Scorcher, Action, Victor, Bullet, Scoop|
Anthony John "Tony" Harding (9 January 1942 – 12 January 2014) was a British illustrator of boys' action comics specialising in football stories. He worked for D. C. Thomson & Co. and IPC Magazines in a career that spanned over 30 years, on comics such as Bullet , Scorcher , Hornet , Action , Roy of the Rovers , Victor and Scoop, amongst others.
Born in West Ham, London,Harding joined Link Studios in London as a trainee, and began work as a comic artist for DC Thomson and IPC Magazines as a comic artist in 1962, while studying at Saint Martin's School of Art in the evenings and playing football for Gartan Sports FC in East London. A talented footballer, he helped them to win a host of trophies in the mid sixties to early seventies.
He went freelance aged 20 and, with the encouragement of his agent, went to live in Guernsey aged 21 in 1963. There he played for St Martin's FC and between 1963 and 1965 won several more titles and trophies. It was there he met his future wife,Ann, whom he married in 1967. However the distractions of life in Guernsey proved too much and Tony started missing his deadlines, so he returned to London. In 1972 he moved to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, continuing to work freelance from home. On Saturdays he continued to play football, this time for Rookley FC, playing over 300 games in total and winning many more trophies. He was voted Life President of Rookley Football Club for his many years of service as player and captain.
Originally a Catholic, he became a born-again Christian in 1980, joining the Isle of Wight Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship, of which he became Vice-President, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Music Group.
Work in comics began to dry up in the early 1990s after Roy of the Rovers and The Victor ceased publication, so Harding became an Independent Arts teacher, using art to help people recovering from strokes, and worked with people with disabilities at Meadowbrook Day Care Center,where he founded the Isle of Wight Re-Cycle project, collecting over 1000 bicycles for Africa. He continued to work part-time on comics in the late 1990s for the Football Picture Story Monthly comic books for DC Thomson and Soccer Junior Magazine in the USA, and eventually left comics altogether in 2003. He suffered from an irregular heartbeat, and died suddenly on 12 January 2014, aged 72, while returning from work as a carer at Afton Ward at the Sevenacres mental health unit.
One of Harding's earliest strips was "Wonder Man" for The Victor in 1961–62. A revival of on an old prose serial from The Rover from 1946, it starred H. K. Rodd, a young man raised by scientists to be the perfect athlete. Another early strip was "Bouncing Briggs", which first appeared in The Hornet in 1963. Subtitled "the goalie who's good for a laugh", it featured Bernard Briggs, a young scrap metal dealer who became goalkeeper for Blackton Rovers after calling at the club grounds to collect some iron railings, and criticising their goalkeeper so loudly the team challenged him to have a go himself. The strip ran in The Hornet until 1976, and from then in The Hotspur until 1980.
Harding drew various strips for Roy of the Rovers between 1976 and 1993, but it was only in the annuals that he got to illustrate the adventures of Roy Race himself. In 1976–77 he drew the controversial football strip "Look Out For Lefty", written by Tom Tully, for Action , taking over from his friend Barrie Mitchell. Harding regarded it as a "cheeky", humorous story,but objected to some of the things he was asked to draw, for example refusing to depict Lefty sticking two fingers up to the crowd. He did draw a scene involving a character throwing a bottle from the crowd and hitting a player on the head, thinking the player was "such a horror" he deserved it.
Other comic strips he drew include:
A British comic is a periodical published in the United Kingdom that contains comic strips. It is generally referred to as a comic or a comic magazine, and historically as a comic paper.
John Wagner is an American-born British comics writer. Alongside Pat Mills, he helped revitalise British comics in the 1970s, and continues to be active in the British comics industry, occasionally also working in American comics. He is best known as the co-creator, with artist Carlos Ezquerra, of the character Judge Dredd.
Roy of the Rovers is a British comic strip about the life and times of a fictional footballer and later manager named Roy Race, who played for Melchester Rovers. The strip first appeared in the Tiger in 1954, before giving its name to a weekly comic, published by IPC and Fleetway from 1976 until 1995, in which it was the main feature.
Annual publications, more often simply called annuals, are periodical publications appearing regularly once per year. Although exact definitions may vary, types of annuals include: calendars and almanacs, directories, yearbooks, annual reports, proceedings and transactions and literary annuals. A weekly or monthly publication may produce an Annual featuring similar materials to the regular publication. Some encyclopedias have published annual supplements that essentially summarize the news of the past year, similar to some newspaper yearbooks.
Action was a controversial weekly British children's anthology comic that was published by IPC Magazines, starting on 14 February 1976, until November 1977.
Classics from the Comics was a British comics magazine, published from March 1996 until October 2010. Published monthly, it was D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd's third all-reprint comic. It replaced The Best of Topper and The Best of Beezer, which had reprinted old strips for some years.
Tiger was a British comic magazine published from 1954 to 1985.
The Amalgamated Press was a British newspaper and magazine publishing company founded by journalist and entrepreneur Alfred Harmsworth in 1901, gathering his many publishing ventures together under one banner.
TI Media, is a consumer magazine and digital publisher in the United Kingdom, with a portfolio selling over 350 million copies each year. It is owned by Future plc.
Tom Paterson is a Scottish comic artist who drew characters for Fleetway in 1973–1990, and D.C Thomson from 1986-onwards. He lives in Leith, with three children, and is a Hearts supporter.
Billy's Boots was a popular British comic strip by writer Fred Baker and artist John Gillatt, later continued by Mike Western. The original Billy's Boots was an earlier humorous series, written and drawn by Frank Purcell, which appeared in Tiger between 1961 and 1963, with a similar premise to this later series. The later more serious Billy appeared in the first issue of Scorcher in 1970, and later moved to Tiger when the two comics merged in 1974. In 1985 Tiger in turn merged with Eagle and the strip moved again, however just a year later Billy's adventures relocated once more, this time to Roy of the Rovers. New adventures were included in the weekly comic until May 1990, before he switched to Best of Roy of the Rovers Monthly. The strip also appeared in annuals, including annuals for comics which had themselves ceased publication, and is still fondly remembered by fans of the "golden age" of British boys' comics. In Finland and Sweden, Billy's Boots was published in Buster magazine. In the UK, stories based on Billy's earliest adventures appeared in Total Football magazine until it closed in 2001, and Billy's story was also reprinted for a few months in the defunct Striker comic.
Scorcher was the name of a football-themed British comic magazine published by IPC between January 1970 and October 1974. Scorcher featured various well-known comic strips, such as Billy's Boots, Bobby of the Blues and Lags Eleven, a story about a prison football team. In addition, the Nipper story was absorbed from Score comic and Hot Shot Hamish made its first appearance after that. Some of these stories later found homes in Roy of the Rovers and in Tiger.
Smash! was a weekly British comic book, published in London by Odhams Press Ltd from 64 Long Acre and subsequently by IPC Magazines Ltd from (initially) 189 High Holborn and (latterly) Fleetway House in nearby Farringdon Street.
The Victor was a British comic paper published weekly by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. The Victor ran for 1,657 issues from 25 January 1961 until it ceased publication on 21 November 1992. Associated with it was the annually published The Victor Book for Boys. This annual was first published in 1964, with the last edition published in 1994. A hardback book, The Best of The Victor, was published in 2010 ready to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this popular adventure comic. The book featured a selection of reprints from the weekly comic.
Ted Cowan, being the best known familiar name of Edward George Cowan, is a British comic book writer.
Arthur Geoffrey Campion was a British comics artist who drew adventure strips for Amalgamated Press/IPC.
Derek Arthur William Birnage was a British comics editor and writer and newspaper editor, best known as the founding editor of the weekly sports comic Tiger and as a writer of Roy of the Rovers.
Rob Davis is a British comics artist, writer, and editorial illustrator located in Blandford Forum, Dorset. British comics magazines and features to which he has contributed include Roy of the Rovers, Judge Dredd, Doctor Who Magazine and Doctor Who Adventures. He has also created the graphic novels Don Quixote and an original story, The Motherless Oven.