Monday, October 24, 2016

European Western Comic Books ~ Gun Law

‘Gun Law’ was a British newspaper comic strip that ran from 1956-1978 for Express Weekly (1956-1960) and then in the Daily Express until 1978. It was released in book form in 1954 by Henry Blacklock & Co. ‘Gun Law’ was based on the popular radio and television series “Gun Smoke” and was a western adventure series starring Marshal Matt Dillon. The stories were takne from the radio and TV scripts and put into comic strip form. The artist was Harry Bishop.

Harry Bishop was born in Painswick, Gloucestershire, on either May 3, 1920 or March 3. 1922, depending on the source consulted. He attended Gloucester school of art until 1937, when he left to travel. He served in the RAF during the Second World War, spending some time in Bomber Command. In 1947 he resumed his studies at Wimbledon College of Art in London, before becoming an art teacher at Mitcham Grammar School in Surrey in 1952.

Around this time his work first appeared in comics from the Amalgamated Press. Influenced by D. C. Eyles, he excelled at drawing horses and was discovered by Leonard Matthews, who assigned him plenty of westerns to draw. He drew "Cal McCord" (1952) for Comic Cuts, "Buck Jones" (1954) for Cowboy Comics Library, "Jesse James" (1956) for Thriller Picture Library, "Billy the Kid" (1957) for Sun, and "Morg of the Mammoths" (1963-4) for Lion. He also worked for Hulton Press, drawing "Tarna the Jungle Boy" (1954-63) for Swift.

In 1954 he began a comic strip adaptation of the TV series Wyatt Earp for Junior Express Weekly, followed by "Rex Keene", then "Gun Law", based on the TV series Gunsmoke, for the same title. In 1956 he left his teaching job to work full-time in commercial art. Gun Law became a daily strip in the Daily Express in 1957, which Bishop wrote and drew until it finished in 1978. He received the Best Dramatic Strip Cartoonist award from the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain in 1975 for his work on the strip.

He also drew a "Tarzan" strip for TV Tornado from 1967, produced book and magazine illustrations, and in 1982 took over the weekly strip, Wes Slade, for the Sunday Express. However, an eye infection in 1984-5 left him no longer able to draw.

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