Thursday, 14 September 2017

Buster Index cover art

Back in 1995 I was asked if I'd be interested in drawing the cover for the Buster Index, a fan publication produced by A&B Whitworth (who also published the excellent fanzine The Illustrated Comic Journal, - not to be confused with an American magazine of a similar name). The book was written by Steve Holland and Ray Moore; two experts on the history of British comics, who have written many other indexes and notable books on comics.

Naturally, I was happy to do the cover, and created an illustration showing some of the key characters from Buster's long history; Chalky, Charlie Peace, Faceache, Tom Thug, Master Mind, The Big One, Tin Teacher, Galaxus, and of course in the centre, Buster himself. 

I thought it'd be nice to make it resemble an old comics cover, so I hand-drew the logo (copying the 1960s Buster logo), basing the word 'Index' on the Giggle logo from the days when Buster and Giggle were a merged comic. A bit of Letraset for the topline and dates added to the illusion of it looking like an old cover. (Yes, this was in pre-Photoshop days. The colouring was all done by hand too, and if you're interested, the blue background splatter effect was done with an old toothbrush and a piece of card, - after masking off the areas I didn't want splattered of course.) I left the borders white because that's how comics were back in the 1960s.

I was also asked to write the foreword to the book, which I happily obliged. 

The chunky book was printed A5 size and covered the first 35 years of the comic's history. Sadly, we weren't to know then that Buster would be cancelled four years later, but at least this Index covered the best years before reprints dominated the comic. 

The Buster Index only had a small print run and was sold via mail order only. In those pre-digital printing days it was photocopied, so the art didn't reproduce exactly as intended but it was close enough. The book soon sold out, as I recall. I still use it today as an excellent reference work.

In more recent times, another publisher has apparently acquired the rights to do a reprint and sells them on eBay from time to time. Unfortunately, for some reason, he's added a garishly bright yellow border to the cover that ruins the effect of it mimicking an old comics cover. Also, as it's a copy of a photocopy, the art seems murkier too. More tinkering saw Steve Holland's credit removed. Why not just leave everything as intended?  
I don't know how well the contents have been reprinted in the second edition but as a reference work to a long running comic it's invaluable. 

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in the history of that cover. Although it was 22 years ago I can still remember drawing it!

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