First Look At Biographical Graphic Novel ‘Tony Hancock: The Lad Himself’ By Stephen Walsh And Keith Page.

by Richard Bruton

B7 Media plans to release the 275-page graphic novel Tony Hancock: The Lad Himself later in 2022 – telling the tale of the legendary British comedian.

One early version of the Hancock cover – art by Keith Page

During his short life, Tony Hancock was absolutely beloved as a comedian, appearing before millions on the radio and TV in the 1950s, even featuring in his own comics in Film Fun. His classic grumpy everyman, perfectly written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, acted brilliantly by Hancock, became famous, someone ordinary people could so easily relate to and Hancock’s star looked set to rise and rise. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and Hancock died at the terribly young age of 44 in 1968, his success gone and his body ravaged by alcohol.

However, his legacy and talent has lived on and, since his early death, there have been numerous works about the man and his life. There have been dramas, re-tellings, performances, re-makes, but we’ve never seen Hancock in comics again – at least not until now.

 

The new graphic novel, telling of the legendary comedian’s rise to stardom and subsequent decline, will be written and drawn by frequent collaborators Stephen Walsh and Keith Page and will be released by audio drama producer B7 Media through its new B7 Comics imprint. Walsh and Page have collaborated before, on the time-travelling, universe-hopping Charlotte Corday and have both collaborated with Hancock’s editor, John Freeman, on that book and series as well. The graphic novel will be released along with a tie-in audio drama by B7 Media.

From what I’ve seen already on social media, this is one of those perfect projects – both in subject and in creative team, with Walsh and Page both big fans of one of Britain’s greatest, and possibly grumpiest, comedians.

 

Their graphic novel, as you can see from just the work included here, has Hancock acting in his usual irritated fashion – just as fans of the man and his work would expect. In fact, according to writer Walsh, the ‘voice’ of Hancock became something that would come to dominate the graphic novel.

“So, we started with The Lad Himself. After reading all the books again and watching all the DVDs, scribbling tons of notes and walking up and down a lot, I was surprised one day at the laptop to hear a voice mocking me for even attempting to capture Hancock in something as piffling as whatever it was I was trying and failing to do. I looked around and, no, the ghost of Hancock wasn’t there. But he’d somehow come to life as a ‘character’ in my head. And he wouldn’t shut up.”

“So, I wrote down everything he said. The ‘voice’ of Hancock became central to the story that started to emerge. I sent off the first bunch of pages to Keith and he seemed to agree that we were onto something. He quickly ‘staged’ the scenes I’d written and gave me a look at the pages. What astonished and pleased me the most was the ‘performance’ he was managing to get from ‘our’ Hancock. So we pressed on.” – Stephen Walsh

And as you’ll see from the pages we’re showing you, it absolutely does work. You simply can’t read the words on the page without hearing Hancock saying them – Walsh seems to have absolutely nailed ‘the voice’ and the tone here.

Telling their story in this anecdotal, slightly stream-of-consciousness fashion, Walsh and Page will hop around Hancock’s life, exploring the origins of his comedy, his pursuit of success, and look at the two separate Hancocks – the comedy persona and the very flawed self-destructive human being who alienated allies, colleagues, and friends as the fame – and the funny – drifted away from a man who, only in his early 40s, found his career in Britain over.

 

Walsh and Page have recently posted several pages from the graphic novel online and we’re pleased to present them to you here as a preview of a graphic novel that I’m hugely looking forwards to.

Tony Hancock: The Lad Himself, written by Stephen Walsh, drawn by Keith Page, will be published by B7 Comics sometime in 2022 – hopefully October as mentioned below. We shall definitely be telling you more about it when we get a release date.

Now, those preview pages (you can find more here)

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