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ROBO CAPERS: An appreciation of Lew Stringer's UK Transformers comic back-up strip

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ROBO CAPERS: An appreciation of Lew Stringer's UK Transformers comic back-up strip

Postby robotmel » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:25 am

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Being a long time fan of most things Transformers I thought it would be nice to start a thread on the sometimes over looked but gloriously relevant back up strip which appeared in the back of the UK Transformers comic, Robo-Capers and the man who created it Lew Stringer!
Thanks to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia for the biography below...
Wikipedia wrote:Stringer began his career from the late 1970s with a series of fanzines, many featuring his popular Brickman character; these were read by several pro creators (including Kevin O'Neill, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons) who encouraged Stringer to try comics as a profession and Stringer recalls that "Alan Moore actually introduced me to one of the editors at Marvel UK - Bernie Jaye who was editor on The Daredevils".

He sold his first professional cartoon to Marvel UK (the British branch of Marvel Comics) in 1983 where it appeared in The Daredevils comic, after which he worked for a short time as art assistant to the cartoonist Mike Higgs (creator of Moonbird and The Cloak). Since then Stringer has freelanced for numerous British comics for various companies and audiences.

His best remembered creations are Tom Thug and Pete and His Pimple for Oink! comic (1986), which outlasted that comic and continued into Buster comic, and Combat Colin the halfwit hero who featured in Action Force and The Transformers comics. Prior to Colin joining Transformers, Stringer had written another, similarly slapstick, strip Robo-Capers for that title. Robo-Capers was replaced by Combat Colin when the reprints of American G.I. Joe strips were added to the Transformers comic. Robo-Capers returned for a single story, which featured Colin and his sidekick, in Issue #200. After a change of editorial direction in 1991, Marvel UK handed the rights of Combat Colin to Stringer and he has used him in small-press titles, such as the Combat Colin Special and Yampy Tales. On September 30th 2012, Combat Colin returned in an all new story for the launch of new David Lloyd's new online comic Aces Weekly.

Stringer has also worked as a writer on CiTV Tellytots; was one of the main writers on Sonic the Comic, where he created several fan-favourite characters and stories; and has been a long time artist/writer for Viz comic and many other publications. He has written Toxic!'s Team TOXIC! strip since the first issue (and drawn it since issue 15); this proved popular enough with the readers to gain two pages an issue and lead to other comic strips being brought in. Recently, new Team Toxic strips were replaced by reprints of the strip.

He broke into the international market in 1997 creating the Suburban Satanists for the Norwegian comic Geek. From 1999 to 2007 those characters appeared in the Swedish comic book Herman Hedning.

In April 2005, Active Images published a collection - Brickman Begins - of all of Stringer's Brickman strips since 1979. In 2006, a brand new Brickman series began in the American comic book Elephantmen, published by Image Comics, and in 2007, Combat Colin became a guest star in the strip. Brickman seems to be Stringer's most enduring character. The series concluded in Elephantmen No.24 in 2009. Stringer is considering reprinting all 20 episodes in a self-published comic entitled Brickman Returns.

He began freelancing for The Beano in 2007, drawing a Fred's Bed story for the Christmas issue and a one-off Ivy the Terrible strip for an issue in 2008. In October 2008 Stringer became the artist on a new strip, Super School which is about five superhero children and their non-superpowered teacher. He started drawing for The Dandy after its revamp in October 2010, providing the illustrations for Postman Prat and Kid Cops and writing and drawing The Dark Newt.

Growing up with Transformers throughout the Eighties, I used to have my local newsagent put the weekly UK Transformer comic on standing order for me. Popping down the road to collect the new issue was always a highlight of my week. Catching up on the latest exploits of the Heroic Autobots and Evil Decepticons was a joy!
I remember the free posters that where often bound inside or a free gift taped to the front of the cover, the letters page which never seemed to print my letter and the occasional joining of a perhaps, struggling comic, with The Transformers which helped double the readership to a small extent.

All of these comics where made even more enjoyable by the inclusion of Lew Stringer's Robo-Capers (and later Combat Colin) which often got read first before the main stories.
Being a child born in the Seventies I loved reading The Beano, The Dandy, Whizzer & Chips, Topper and Buster, so Lew's take on alien robots was friendly, clever, thoughful and always funny to me!
Back then I didnt know much about comic writers and artists except for their name written in a little box somewhere near the start of a story, but as I grew up and started collecting more American comic books from my local market stall or catching a bus over to The Sheffield Space Centre comic book store, my love for certain writers and especially artists blossomed.
Lew was not only the creator of Robo-Capers but also artist and writer. When one person could be so creative that they could handle all of these duties, this I liked.
When a favourite writer stepped in for the odd strip, this was awesome!
Welcome Mr Simon Furman! :BOT:

Robo-Capers was the funny alternative to The Transformers which sometimes took a dark path through its warring factions. With its psychotic alien King hell-bent on destroying the human race with creations of terrifyingly terrible robots made by his ill-advised inventor, Robo-Capers was in itself a movie waiting to be Bay-ed, sorry, made! :CON:

I have yet to meet Lew Stringer but sending him messages via his Ebay account has renewed and revived my love of Robo-Capers. He is a kind and thoughtful fellow, always polite and understanding with a buyers requests, so much so that the few pieces of original comic atwork I have bought from him came with a personalized message or a seperate piece of paper with a sketch and note!

Thank you Lew for all your hard work! 10/10!!
Lew Stringer's Robo-Capers
Classics/Generations - Seaspray, Skids
Masterpiece - Starscream (G1 deco)
Alternity - Ultra Magnus, Cliffjumper
Perfect Effect - Eject & Rewind
Fansproject - Assaulter (Broadside)
IDW Transformers (2009 Ongoing) - #22b (VF/NM)
MARVEL Generation 2 - Halloween Special (VF/NM)
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