Friday, 14 January 2011

Tom Paterson's Calamity James

Today folks - I would like to show you an artist that worked for DC Thompson comics for many, many years and especially on The Beano and The Dandy - and that particular artist is completely underrated and only a few artists would have heard of him, and he's Tom Paterson.

Tom Paterson has worked on many, classic strips in The Beano and The Dandy and is best-known for creating the comic strip "Calamity James" (which I'm going to show you), and other comics in the Dandy like Brain Duane.

When you see Paterson's work in these comics, his style is instantly recognizable, the style is there and he has brilliant comic timing, and the fact that he puts in a lot of details and exaggeration in his comics, and his background details are hilarious. In almost every single comic strip drawn by Tom always has a random sock in the ground and it pongs. He also sometimes has background stuff like buildings saying "MUSHY PEAS FACTORY".

Calamity James is basically about a boy named James and he is the unluckiest boy alive in the universe. Wherever he is and anytime, a lot of bad things strike directly at James. A lot of bad luck happens like a huge elephant might land on his head, or James pulling down a manhole, or a group of cats or ducks attacking James. About all the characters in Calamity James have personality, it's brilliant. Personally, it's one of my favourite all-time comic strips, although it hasn't been a huge favourite to Beano readers, but it did last for roughly 20 years. The character first appeared on 1st November 1986 (don't have that copy), and it was originally titled Calamity James: the world's unluckiest boy; and he has a pet that always tags along James (and sometimes helps James), and it was a lemming named Alexander Lemming (a parody to famous Scottish biologist Alexander Flemming who invented penicillin), and originally Alexander Lemming was a character who loved to jump really high cliffs (as that's what lemmings do), and tags along James.

So, I'm going to show a few comic strips of Calamity James, but I can only show 5, because I had troubles staging the comics while scanning and only 5 were successful enough to be published. So here they are:

Here is an early James comic strip from 1993.

Now, here is a storyline from 1994 when Calamity James goes depressed because he hasn't got a friend in the world, until a horrible, big, hideous woman named "Sweaty Betty", and it's actually done in three parts - but the only successful ones scanned were Part 1 and Part 3 - but don't worry, you're not really missing much on Part 2.
Part One.

Part Three.

That's all to show - I'll try and post some more if I have the time...


Peter Gray said...

Nice post..
As you know I'm a big fan of Tom..

Steven Hartley said...

Yes, I know - I love his caricature and designs in comics.

Trevor said...

Hi guys,
You'll be pleased to know that I am currently working on an official website for Tom Paterson, who is a budddy of mine. There he'll be exhibiting some of his portfolio and better still, original art and limited edition prints for sale. How cool is that then?

Steven Hartley said...

I'd love to take a look - when will it be released?

Trevor said...

One step at a time. I know we'll all be interested in seeing Tom "on the block" again, but I've only just received his portfolio. So the process of scanning it all is the 1st step. But I'll keep you posted ;)

Peter Gray said...

Now that is a cool job..


look forward to it as well..

Trevor said...

I'll keep you guys posted ;)

Trevor said...

Tom recently supplied the toons for a book called "The Laird's Larder" and a few of his characters also appear on the website @

Worth a look ;)

Anonymous said...

Ahh, this takes me back. Some really dark humour crept into the Beano via poor James. Dying to see some more of the strips, hope you get round to uploading them!