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The Unofficial Greek
Roy of the Rovers
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Behind the scenes

Taken from the old official Roy of the Rovers site and written by Mark Towers

Roy of the Rovers would not have come to life and would not be such a well known storyline if it were not for the people behind the scenes. Over the years the story has been brought to life with artwork, developed to reflect the times and published in  various comics, annuals and books.

This area of the website aims to give credit and background information to the people and companies involved. This page explains how the the story has developed and who has owned the copyright. 

The Roy of the Rovers story first appeared in the 1st edition of a comic called "Tiger - 'The Sport and Picture Story Weekly'", on 11th September 1954. This comic was launched by a company called Amalgamated Press who had been formed in 1907. The first editor was Derek Burnage, the first writer of the Roy of the Rovers story was Frank Pepper and the first artist was Joe Colquhoun. In the 1960's the circulation figures for Tiger topped 300,000.

In 1969, Amalgamated Press became I.P.C and the copyright for Roy of the Rovers also switched to I.P.C. On 26th September 1976, I.P.C. launched a spin off comic from Tiger called simply "Roy of the Rovers". The editor at this time (of both Tiger and Roy of the Rovers) was Barrie Tomlinson, the Roy of the Rovers story writer was Tom Tully and the artist was David Sque. In 1982 the circulation figures for the Roy of the Rovers comic were 150,000 reaching places such as Africa, Australia and Malaysia.

In March 1985, the last issue of Tiger was produced as it was amalgamated into the Eagle Comic. In July 1987, the Maxwell Group bought the Copyright for Roy of the Rovers and this was under the name of "Fleetway Publications".  Following Robert Maxwell's death in November 1991, the Egmont Corporation became interested and bought the copyright to Roy of the Rovers in January 1992. The copyright was lodged and is still registered with "Egmont Fleetway Ltd." The Roy of the Rovers comic ceased publication on 23rd March 1993. Eighteen issues of a Roy of the Rovers monthly were produced, the last one being published in February 1995. The Roy of the Rovers story made a welcome return as part of the Match of the Day magazine in the May/June launch issue in 1997 and is still featured in that publication.

The Artists

Roy of the Rovers would not come to life if it were not for artists who have drawn the story for over 40 years. The first artist was Joe Colquhoun and the current artist is Barrie Mitchell. The last issue of the Roy of the Rovers Comic on 20th March 1993 identified the top six 'Roy' artists. Details of these are set out below.

Joe was the strip's first artist and drew the Roy of the Rovers story on and off into the 1970's. Joe also wrote the story for a time because the original writer Frank Pepper had a vast workload and had to temporarily stand down after four episodes. Joe wrote under the name of Stewart Colwyn. 

Paul Trevillion has been acclaimed as the finest sports artist Europe has ever produced. Paul drew the Roy of the Rovers strip in the early 1960's. In the 2000 Roy of the Rovers Annual Paul says, "I always felt the weight of Roy's many fans who expected so much from the artwork. It is a stage in my career I look back on with a great deal of affection." Paul's international career has taken him all around the world and he has drawn high quality artwork in books, magazines and newspapers on a whole host of sports including basketball, American Football and golf.

YVONNE HUTTON (nee Mullins)

Yvonne started drawing Roy in the 1973/1974 period. She drew the script prior to David Sque and drew the Roy of the Rovers story when it appeared in the Tiger comic at the same time as it appeared in Roy of the Rovers comic (1976 to 1983). Yvonne was also the first artist to draw the Roy of the Rovers story when it appeared in the Daily Star Newspaper. It was during this period that Yvonne was tragically killed in a car accident.

David drew the Roy of the Rovers story from January 1975 to August 1986. He gave Roy a new image with the flowing blond locks he became famous for. David was the "Roy" artist at the time of the launch of the Roy of the Rovers comic in 1976. Although not a fanatical supporter of football, this was never evident in David's excellent work.

In the 1980 Roy of the Rovers Holiday Special, David described his work as the artist on the Roy story. Working from his home in Poole, Dorset. He took four full days to draw and colour both pages of artwork. Monday was taken up with sketching the first page and on Tuesday the second page was sketched. Wednesday was the brush and Indian ink stage and Thursday was usually the day when David would apply the colour. He would start by colouring the large areas, finishing the sky, the stands and the crowd first and then concentrating on the players. Both pages were completed by Thursday night.

David has his own website promoting his paintings and artwork which can be accessed at the link below.


Mike White drew the Roy of the Rovers story from August 1986 to October 1992. Mike gave Roy a more powerful, muscular look. One of Mike's most popular covers was the cover for the book "Roy of the Rovers - The Playing Years". He has more recently designed one of the four new Royal Mail Millennium stamps, issued in June 1999. He designed the 26p First Class stamp, number 27, "World Cup" which celebrates one of the most memorable days in the 20th Century. That was the summer's day in 1966 when England won the World Cup at Wembley, defeating West Germany 4-2, with Sir Geoff Hurst netting an historic hat-trick


Barrie first drew the Roy of the Rovers story in October 1992 and was the artist at the time of the closure of the comic in March 1993. On the closure of the comic in 1993 Barry went to work with Marvel comics. However when the story was resurrected in May 1997, Barrie was the artist chosen to bring Roy and Rocky back to life. He illustrated the story until the closure of the MotD magazine in 2001. Like David Sque, Barrie worked on The Mirror's "Scorer" strip and drew it in its first year from August 1989 to August 1990. In the early 1990's, he was also the artist of 'Playmaker', another popular story in the RoTR comic.  

The Writers

Roy of the Rovers would not have a story if it were not for the writers. 


Frank Pepper was the creator of Roy of the Rovers. Frank had previously written the Champion series, 'Danny of the Dazzlers', until he was asked to produce a more realistic football strip. The brief he was given, he describes as,

"We decided to show an ordinary lad, with talent, with whom the reader would identify, joining a top-class club with long traditions, as a very humble junior and gradually making his way up the ladder, until he became a star. This wasn't as easy as it sounds: in pre war days none of our footballers ever seemed to live anywhere, or to have any relatives - they just materialised on the pitch on match days and then vanished back into limbo. Done today there'd be no problem: you'd just have him living in a suburban semi with his parents and siblings, but at that time it was unthinkable to have female characters in a boy's paper."

Frank created Roy of the Rovers as a permanent trademark for the new Tiger comic in 1954, with Roy given a family background from the start. After four episodes Frank stopped writing the Roy of the Rovers story. His schedule was already overloaded with stories including the space-faring strip adventures of 'Captain Condor'. Frank returned in the 1960's and wrote the Roy of the Rovers story on and off into the 1970's. 


Due to a very heavy workload, Frank Pepper quit after four episodes and Joe Colquhoun, the Roy of the Rovers artist became Stewart Colwyn, the pseudonymous author of Roy. Stewart Colwyn then scripted the story for four-and-a-half years, including a lot of the work in the excellent first Roy of the Rovers Annual of 1958. 

DEREK BIRNAGE (incl. Bobby Charlton!)

During the latter part of Stewart Colwyn's stint as writer, Derek Birnage, the editor of Tiger wrote more and more of the scripts. In 1960 the front page of Tiger blazed with news that Bobby Charlton was writing Roy's adventures, although it was Derek Birnage, really. 


Tom Tully was the last and easily longest writer for the Roy of the Rovers comic and wrote the helicopter crash story. Tom was once described as the linesman of the Rovers. In an interview for the Yorkshire Post on 10th October 1979, Tom said of Roy of the Rovers, "The phrase should be in the dictionary. Roy represents something that coloured your life when you were young. He has become something people relate to and use to express themselves. He makes mistakes, feels guilty, loses his temper, makes errors of judgement, has arguments with his wife and frequently finishes up with egg on his face. But in the final analysis he is thoroughly decent, totally loyal and widely respected." Tom started writing the Roy of the Rovers story in 1969 and continued to do so on an intermittent basis until 1974 and then on a continuous basis until the closure of the comic in 1993.

Tom still supports Newcastle United. He is a Glaswegian who was brought up in Reading. In 1981, Tom was instrumental in 'signing' Roy up with Reading Football Club. The idea was that Roy would be more appealing to the younger supporters.

As a boy Tom read Hotspur, Adventure, Rover and Wizard. He graduated to writing children's picture stories after working as a Clerical Officer in the Civil Service, National service with the RAF as a telephonist and a spell as a tally man.  Years of striving for recognition in freelance writing culminated in a successful Buck Rogers story at the age of 25 and this was his foothold into the world of Children's comics. 

Tom also wrote "Nipper" which appeared in both the Tiger and Roy of the Rovers comics. He scripted Johnny Red for Battle Action (Johnny was a British fighter pilot flying for the Russians in the Second World war); the Leopard Boy for the Buster Comic (the boy acquired remarkable powers after being scratched by a radioactive leopard) and the Mind of Wolfie Smith for the 2000AD comic (Wolfie had extra sensory perception).  Tom penned another popular Roy of the Rovers comic story called 'Goalmouth' about a goalkeeper called Rapper Hardisty. Rapper was eventually transferred to Melchester Rovers.

Other stories have included Kelly's eye, (featuring a character who became indestructible when he wore the eye of an ancient Incan God around his neck); The Street Claw, (about a man who was invisible apart from his artificial hand); Raven on the Wing, (about a barefoot gypsy footballer); Leave it to Lefty (another up and coming footballer) and Mytek the Mighty, (a robot ape with a dwarf in his head!).

Ian provided the latest script for the story, which appeared in the monthly BBC Match of the Day magazine. Ian's ability as a writer is shown by the way he skillfully brings the story to life and covers a number of issues which are intrinsic to the storyline, in a short space each month in the magazine. Incidentally, Ian co-wrote the first two Roy of the Rovers stories for the Monthly magazine, in September and October 1993.

Check out his website, featuring never-published-before scripts and artwork:

The Editors

Every comic has an editor or as they are sometimes referred to a "comic packager". The Editor decides on what stories are going in, polishes up the plots and commissions the artists. When the Roy of the Rovers story was launched in Tiger in 1954, the editor was Derek Birnage. He was replaced by David Gregory in the mid 1960's. Barrie Tomlinson took the reins in 1969 and Paul Gettens took on the job in 1979. Paul was editor of Tiger until it merged with Eagle in 1985. Barrie Tomlinson was the first editor of Roy of the Rovers when it was launched in 1976, then it was Ian Vosper in 79 and finally David Hunt in 1990.


Derek was the first editor of Tiger when it was launched in 1954. He wrote the Roy of the Rovers story for a time and was instrumental in involving Bobby Charlton as ghost writer in 1960. 


David became editor from Derek Burnage in the mid 1960's and when I.P.C launched "Shoot" in 1969, David was moved sideways to become its editor.

On one occasion, Barrie even found himself as part of the storyline, in 1975, congratulating Roy for achieving 21 years in the Tiger comic.

Barrie is undoubtedly the most famous of the editors involved in either Tiger or Roy of the Rovers. He started in journalism by editing a forces magazine during his National Service. He joined Amalgamated Press in 1961 and was sub editor on Lion for a while in the 1960's. He was sub editor on Tiger in 1967 and took over as editor of Tiger from David Gregory in 1969. One of his early tasks was to move Tiger from an adventure and sport paper to being a sports based publication. He involved sports stars such as Gordon Banks, Tony Greig, Malcolm MacDonald, Mike Channon, Trevor Francis and Geoff Boycott, who all wrote for the comic and David Gower and Dickie Bird who hosted quiz pages. 

Barrie orchestrated the launch of the Roy of the Rovers comic in 1976 and was its first editor at the same time as he edited Tiger. In January 1979 Barrie became Group editor for a series of comics including Tiger, Roy of the Rovers, 2000AD, Battle, Wildcat and Scream. In 1981 when Roy 's wife Penny had left him, Barrie appeared on BBC TV's Nationwide, as Roy's agent. Looking like his other hero Eric Morecambe he sparred like a true professional with interviewer Sue Lawley. "Aren't you modeling the character on Malcolm Allison?", she suggested to Barrie. "Malcolm's modeling himself on Roy of the Rovers," was the prompt reply.

In 1982 Barrie orchestrated the relaunch of the Eagle comic, which was then edited by David Hunt who went on to edit Roy of the Rovers.

In the late 1980's Barrie was asked by the Daily Mirror to produce a comic strip character to appear in the paper on a daily basis. He came up with Scorer and the strip was launched in August 1989.

Barrie lives in St Albans with his wife Hilary and has two grown up children, James and Jennifer. In his days as editor he often used to test storylines on James.


Paul took over as Editor of Tiger from Barrie Tomlinson on 13th January 1979, as Barrie became Group Editor. Paul stayed until its amalgamation with Eagle in 1985.


Ian took over as Editor of Roy of the Rovers from Barrie Tomlinson on 13th January 1979, when Barrie became Group Editor. Ian is a staunch Portsmouth fan and  the comic "sponsored" Pompey stars Mark Hateley and Roy look-alike Alan Biley in the 1983/1984 season.


David was editor of the relaunched Eagle in 1982, he was editor of Gary Lineker's Comic "Hot-Shot" and in 1990 became editor of the Roy of the Rovers comic until its closure in 1993. David edited the Roy of the Rovers 2000 Annual and the Match of the Day Annual 2001.

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