The Collector (comic strip)

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The Collector was a comic strip published in the British comic book Eagle, from issue 1 (dated March 27, 1982) to issue 48 (dated February 19, 1983), and occasionally thereafter in annuals or summer specials.

The strip was a series of one-off morality tales with occasional horror and supernatural undertones, underpinned by the literary device of The Collector, who had an extensive array of macabre items. Each issue he would narrate a tale to the reader relating to an item in his collection.

Many of the early strips in Eagle were photographic rather than hand-drawn; the Collector himself, featuring at the beginning and end of each strip, would be drawn, while the tale he related would be photographed. Occasionally a special effect would be drawn directly onto the photograph in an attempt to overcome the limitations of photography. Such hand-drawn effects would certainly be considered crude by today's standards, but enabled the strip to extend the scope of the tales.

The strip had a rotating series of writers, including Roy Preston, Brian Burrell, Alan Moore, and Gerry Finley-Day; photographers, including Gary Compton, Sven Arnstein, Carin Simon, and Henry Arden amongst others; and with Pat Wright as regular artist.

Typical plots included:

  • Two highly competitive chess players named Marvin Knight and Peter King, who have never met as they play over the telephone (Knight lives in the United States, and King in the UK), eventually pay the price for their excessive playing; Knight loses his job, house and marriage — and finally suffers a fatal heart attack. Obsessed with winning this final game, King contacts a medium, only to have Knight's ghost possess the medium and suck him into the afterlife to continue playing, leaving only a single pawn behind for the Collector.
  • Two fraudulent gardeners are delivered a rare plant, growing into an extremely large plant with tendrils and a mouth. One of them becomes obsessive about nurturing the plant, feeding it raw meat, leading the plant to become carnivorous and eat the two men, and then — with no-one left to tend it — withering and dying of hunger.
  • A tramp gives a video game console to children who are addicted to computer games. The console plays a video game involving defending a house from missiles; damage to the house in the game causes the child's own house to be damaged — and ultimately obliterated — in real life. After each house is destroyed, the tramp retrieves the seemingly-indestructible console from the rubble and moves on, in order to "find someone else who thinks he cannot be beaten!" to quote his words.