Sunday, November 29, 2009


In this post, I will cover two orientalist adventure comics serialized in Britain's Mickey Mouse Weekly. 'Gordon Gale - Air Rover' by British artist Stephan Chapman began in no. 43, dated Nov. 28th, 1936. It tells the story of the title hero, a pilot-mechanic who has invented a special type of plane called Hydro-Gyro. In its first full-fledged test flight, he is accompanied by a young woman who is desperate to deliver some papers to her uncle in Africa. First half of the story takes place in Morocco where the protagonists are assaulted by Arabs:

Morocco was under French occupation at the time, and several textual references to the Arabs as "rebels" testify to the colonialist stand of the comics. Furthermore, in one instance, the Arabs are also humiliated for lacking the know-how of the westerners:

The second half of the story takes place in tropical Africa, with appropriate jungle perils:

The comics ends with the protagonists getting hold of a treasure and becoming wealthy, ie. by looting Africa...

Right after 'Gordon Gale - Air Rover' ended, another orientalist comics, titled 'Green Eyes', started in its place in no. 53, dated Feb. 6th, 1937:
'Green Eyes', by an unknown author and whose plot is apparently inspired from the Hollywood film The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), tells the story of the title villain's attempt to get hold of four scarabs (all in London, but apparently brought to the UK from the Orient, ie. stolen in the first place!) which will somehow give him authority over certain "tribes" in Egypt (under British occupation at the time). Admittedly, this comics features several visuals with delicious imagery:

Even routine action scenes are well staged:

In the end, Green Eyes manages to get the scarabs back to Egypt, but secret service agents trail him:

It all ends happily -for the westerners, of course, and not for the Egyptians..
If anyone knows the artist of 'Green Eyes', please let us know.
Both 'Gordon Gale - Air Rover' and 'Green Eyes' were also serialized in the Turkish children's magazine Çocuk Sesi. The former was re-titled as 'Havalar Kahramanı Bay Metin', with the protagonist given the Turkish name Bay Metin! It started in no. 366, dated Dec. 28, 1936, only one month after its original debut in MMW.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kaya,

Perhaps I can help identify some of the early artists who worked for MMW. The late Denis Gifford gave some details about the strips and their first artists in his book 'The British comic catalogue, 1874-1974'. His lists are not exhaustive, and sometimes not as reliable as might be expected. The biggest problem however is that he gives only the first and original artist for each strip. When strips were taken over by other hands, he does not give the names of the successor(s).
If you are interested, I can scan the relevant pages and send them to you (pdf or jpeg), but then I will need your e-mail address.

Kind regards from The Netherlands,

John Wigmans
(john.wigmans [at]

P.S. I have not checked Gifford's list on the 'Green Eyes' strip yet.

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