At first they pitched in with an eclectic assortment of puzzles, painting competitions, cartoons and humorous comic strips - but then, one day in early 1934, Reynolds witnessed 'a veritable miracle'. As Basil describes it in his wonderful autobiography Of Skit and Skat and This and That:
Unfortunately I don't have an example from this first series, but I have managed to acquire a number of episodes from the subsequent adventure strips he created for the same title - before going on to national fame with features like 'The Road to Rome' in the pages of Mickey Mouse Weekly.Reg had been turning out a variety of artwork, the usual puzzles, comic animal strips etc, but only drew pin-men because, he said, he couldn't draw human figures. Then one day, as we sat working in the studio, he suddenly said "I'm going to have a go at a straight strip!" Thereupon, as I watched in growing disbelief, Reg drew six frames in pencil, and without references of any sort, proceeded to fill them in with six pictures of a legionnaire mounted on a black horse, ploughing through the sandy wastes of a desert fort. It was astonishing! He couldn't have picked a harder subject for his story. but in one bound he bridged the gap between comic and straight strips and produced a mature, splendidly drawn picture set! It was so good that it eventually became the first instalment of 'The Luck of the Legion', which appeared as a short serial strip on the back page of the Boys and Girls Evening World. After that, of course, there was no stopping him...
Here's a particularly stunning example from Perrott's penultimate Evening World series, as it appeared on the front page of the issue dated Friday, August 9th, 1935:
It's difficult to see this amazingly assured 'lost world' fantasy without being reminded of similar adaptations of the works of H. Rider Haggard that were produced for DC Thomson by Dudley Watkins and Paddy Brennan - then one realizes with something of a shock that they wouldn't be drawn for another quarter of a century! The fact is that in 1935 Hal Foster still hadn't created Prince Valiant, while Alex Raymond had only been drawing Flash Gordon for a year.
Even though his work was, as yet, only visible to readers in and around the city limits of Bristol Reg Perrott had succeeded in producing British adventure strips that could hold their own with anything that was then being published anywhere in the world!
- Phil Rushton