BLOG Classic Comic Strip Goldtiger Rediscovered… Sort Of
I used to be fascinated by the fact comics would come in different shapes and formats. My first real exposure to them was through newspapers and the little two or three panel strips that would run in the kids section. This was where I first found Judge Dredd and a lot of Marvel characters, and it’s a real shame that the newspaper strip has, if not died out, then forced to the edge of extinction .
Which is where Guy Adams and Jimmy Broxton come in. Together they’ve discovered Goldtiger, a lost cult newspaper strip from the 1960s. Packed full of action, style and casual violence, Goldtiger was the last great work of Antonio Barreti and Louis Shaeffer, a writer and artist team who seemed consumed by Goldtiger and the controversy surrounding it. Now, thanks to Guy and Jimmy’s efforts, this subversive story of action, death, sex and fashion has sprung to light. They’re currently running a KickStarter to finance a full reprint of the long overlooked series.
Except, of course, they’re not. What they are doing is creating an entirely new strip pretending to be a ’60s newspaper strip, and creating the mythology of its creative team’s increasingly horrifying lives to go with it. It’s a great idea, and I spoke to Guy and Jimmy about how it got started, their plans and what the future holds for the best newspaper strip no one ever read.
The idea of not just doing a Modesty Blaise-style strip but creating a fictional history for its creators is genius. What led you to decide to do this?
Guy: “The initial idea came from Jimmy. He’s terribly old but not quite old enough to have worked on a newspaper strip. This saddened him as the idea of drawing that sort of mad and sexy stuff is what wakes him up in the morning. We got chatting and, having realised that the idea of writing that sort of mad and sexy stuff is also what gets a me up in the morning, we started to wonder if there was a way we could do it. He suggested we uncover a ‘lost’ ’60s strip. something that seemed of its time and yet actually wasn’t.”
Jimmy: “Well, I had a vague notion about doing a faux/spoof newspaper strip in the great ’60s tradition, but I had no characters, no story… in fact I had nothing, except the idea to present it as a lost artefact from the period, and hopefully make it appear as authentic as possible, stylistically. Guy came up with everything, the name, the concept, the characters, and most importantly the brilliant conceit of having fictional creators as well, with their stobecominry g part of the bigger narrative of Goldtiger, this transforms my initial bit of fanboy wish-fulfilment daydreaming into something very different, unique, and I hope, very special with dollops of sadistic violence and gratuitous nudity thrown in for good measure, but it’s not sexist; we have as much beefcake as cheesecake on offer. I think sailors in particular will love it.”
Guy: “Jimmy loves drawing male body hair. Jimmy is confused.”
The other stories mentioned in the Goldtiger background material sound fascinating (Which is my way of saying “PLEASE WRITE THE ONE ABOUT THE BRITISH SPACE PROGRAM BEING ATTACKED BY THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR!”). Any plans to do them if the book’s successful?
Guy: “We’d love to do a whole series of Goldtiger books, aye. That’s the plan. Story-wise we have a lot of mad strips planned, plus the story of the creators, will get more bizarre and more involved as we go along. As you say though we need to get this first one off the ground in order to make that happen.”
Jimmy: “I’d like nothing better than to get the chance to continue working on Goldtiger. Obviously we have to wait and see how things go. See if folks out there share the same enthusiasm. Mind you, the Knights Templar, drawing all those horses, blimey!!!!”
Guy: “I always try to include as many crowd scenes in my scripts as I love making Jimmy cry. What’s wonderful is that all you have to do to cheer him up again is to suggest one of the main characters is now in a state of undress. I like to think we have a classic bondage relationship. It’s all about punishment and reward.”
Guy, you’re known more for your prose work. What made you decide to step across to comics?
Guy: “I’ve always loved comics; as a medium my passion for it has always equalled that of prose. I just hadn’t had the chance to work in it until recently!”
Jimmy: “Obviously I taught him everything he knows, which is problematic as we all know a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I expect great things and/or a great deal of trouble from this man.”
How did you and Jimmy meet and come up with Goldtiger?
Guy: “I got my first comics break thanks to Liam Sharp, that gargantuan side of tattooed beef in a flat cap. I’ve known Liam for a few years and when he decamped to the States as part of the set-up for Madefire, the digital publisher he helped develop, he sent me an email asking if I’d be willing to script one of the series they were planning. That was The Engine, a dystopian Soviet adventure about a mothballed robot who helps rescue a bunch of miners. Obviously I said yes, little did I know that this would mean I’d have to work with Jimmy as the artist.”
Jimmy: “I’d never heard of Guy Adams – why would I? I don’t read books, unless they have pictures and especially not all that genre rubbish he writes. That being said, turns out he’s well known and highly thought of and I was mightily impressed with his scripts for The Engine. We hit it off, and started talking. It became clear we were obviously long lost twins separated at birth. I dream that one day we’ll be the Windsor Davies and Don Estelle of comics, or the Morecambe and Wise but I’d settle for Hinge and Bracket.”
Guy: “We’re getting married in the autumn. Jimmy will be wearing pink as it matches his eyes. The main reason I proposed is because he thinks I’m well thought of… that was just so… endearing… No doubt divorce will follow when he learns the truth.”
Tell us a little about the Kickstarter pledges. What do people get?
Guy: “We’ve tried to build it all around the book which comes in two different versions. The standard release is a lavish, beautifully-bound hardback (a big part of the drive for this was that it would allow us to release this work in as ‘nice’ a way as possible). With a second ‘Treasury Edition”, that’s strictly limited to 100 copies, coming in a tray case alongside a whole bunch of other stuff… an extra booklet, prints, even an original pencil sketch.
Jimmy: “Guy worked long and hard on the pledge structure, really trying to cover all possible areas, to offer as much as we can to potential backers. I think of Goldtiger as more than just a comic strip. Its characters, creators and themes have a life outside the strip; we don’t just break the fourth wall, we destroy it, build a fifth and give that a damn good hammering as well. The act of wearing a Goldtiger T-shirt or button, or popping your shoplifting booty into a Goldtiger bag makes you part of the Goldtiger universe. We call it a metatextural experience, which was probably a completely made up word.. until now.”
How have you found Kickstarter as a medium for communicating with an audience so far?
Guy: “I’m utterly fascinated by it all. I can’t stop looking at the dashboard of it, seeing where all the backers are referred from and try and watch patterns form! I love the fact that it has a solid, positive feel to it, the whole experience is designed to feel communal and exciting.”
Jimmy: “Everything he said. The Kickstarter idea is brilliant, and the interface that allows you to present your project to the world is really quite wonderful, on so many levels.”
Tell us a little about your books. What’s next for you?
Guy: “It’s a busy year for me. The first of the weird westerns I’m writing for Solaris is released in a few weeks, The Good, The Bad And The Infernal. Imagine what would have happened had Sergio Leone directed Brigadoon. Then the first of a series of novels I’m doing through Titan Books, Deadbeat, a fun, pulpy character-led thriller that comes out in June. Finally, Del Rey UK are launching a new series of mine The Clown Service, a blend of horror and espionage. I’m all over your bookshops like a rash.”
Jimmy: “Well, the kettle’s on, so for me a nice cup of Rosie Lee…”
Thanks, chaps, both for the interview and the exclusive reveal on the strips in this article.
• The Goldtiger KickStarter is up now and can be found here.