Saturday, 13 October 2007
More on Robin Hood
Lew Stringer seems to have been particularly disappointed with the BBC’s new Robin Hood Adventures magazine, accusing it of dumbing-down horribly. Since Lew is normally inclined to defend the current state of the British comics industry, seeing evolution where others see decay, this is pretty damning.
He is particularly puzzled by the huge divergence between the style of the comic strip (comedy) and the style of the TV show from which it is spun-off (melodrama). It is indeed a particularly stark example, but changes of tone are common in transition between the media. I have noted before that the Doctor Who Adventures comic strip, while it captures some of the zest and energy of the television programme, has none of its darkness or romance. The reasoning is presumably that these elements are not suitable for children – but the children are only reading the comic strip because they like the TV programme of which those elements are a part. This puzzled me when I was a boy, and it puzzles me now. (I suppose there are some cases where a child aspires to watch a television programme which is indeed unsuitable for him or her, and makes do with a comic adaptation as a substitute, but that is unlikely to be the case with Robin Hood or Doctor Who.)
Something similar affected a previous adaptation of a TV Robin. In an interview with Look-In: A Tribute to the Junior TV Times, writer Angus P Allan recalled, “My relationship with the comic ended slowly. It began with the increasing editorial pressure to diminish and finally ban all violence, at whatever level. I cannot now imagine why Look-In continued to pay for the rights to A-Team while forbidding me even to show a pistol in the strip. Insane. And when the editor bought Robin Of Sherwood and asked me to write it without bows and arrows … well! The ensuing argument resulted in getting my own way, but I had to promise to use arrows only to send messages or convey climbing lines to castle battlements. What a nonsense! It was at that time that Look-In began to fall heavily in circulation, and no wonder. I don't agree with blood and gore and mindless violence at all, but kids love a bit of mayhem, and God knows there's enough of the real thing around.”
The reasoning of editor Colin Sherbourn is set out in this interview on the same site.
I’m sad to note that Angus Allan died last month. There’s an obituary at the bottom of this page.
Anyway, enough with this! I’m unlikely to spend £1.99 for another two pages of Robin Hood comic strip per issue. Instead I’ll be saving my pennies for the Book Palace’s forthcoming collection of all the Frank Bellamy-drawn Robin Hood strips from Swift, as announced by Steve Holland on his Bear Alley blog.
Panels and pictures
Illustration by Paul Cemmick from Robin Hood Adventures issue 1, BBC Magazines, 10-23 October 2007
Robin of Sherwood, script by Angus P Allan, art by Mike Noble, colour by Arthur Ranson, Look-in, scan taken from The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History
Robin Hood and his Merry Men, from a page of Frank Bellamy artwork from Swift circa 1956, scan downloaded from an art dealer’s page so long ago that I can so longer remember where it was