Tuesday, 21 April 2009
The Leopard From Lime St.
The Leopard From Lime St. was british comics' answer to Spider-Man, running in Buster from 1976 to 1985, and was more or less a complete rip off of everybody's favourite wall-crawler. But was he cool? Oh, hell yeah.
The Leopard ( also known variously as The Leopardman, Leopardboy & The Beast Of Selbridge ) was Billy Farmer, a schoolkid and part-time photographer who, whilst covering mad old Professor Jarman's experimental zoo for the school paper, is accidentally scratched by a radioactive leopard:
Guess what happens next?
Meanwhile, Selbridge is being plagued by a mysterious cat-burglar called The Cat-Man. Spotting a job opportunity, Billy steals a costume from last years school panto ( ! ) and The Leopard From Lime St. is born!
Intending just to get a photo of The Cat-Man to sell to local paper The Selbridge Sun, Billy ( who, up until this point has been the school punch bag ) kicks seven shades of catnip outta the guy, possibly enjoying his new powers a little too much. Designing a claw climbing rope and various other gadgets, his crime-fighting career is soon underway.
Billy's main adversary is his editor, Thaddeus Clegg, who's determined to catch the dreaded Beast Of Selbridge while trying to figure out how this punk kid keeps managing to get all those great shots.
Thanks to Thaddeus, the good people of Selbridge are soon in fear of their lives, expecting to be mauled to death by The Beast every time they pop out for a pint of milk. Giving rise to Billy's legendary war-cry: Catch me if you can...Hunt me if you dare!
So yeah, it was a Spidey rip-off. That's why I bought it. In fact, I remember being allowed 3 comics a week by my parents in lieu of pocket money. At one point, it came down to Spidey OR The Leopard, and I chose The Leopard! ( Forgive me, Stan! )
The strip was written by Tom Tully and brilliantly drawn by Mike Western, and was just so downtrodden & british, you just couldn't help but love it.
Plus, as time went on, it got steadily weirder, as Billy became more & more animalistic.
I'd say, of all the heroes that appeared in British weeklies throughout the '70's, The Leopard From Lime St. is probably the one most fondly remembered. He was our Spidey, dammit! Somebody seriously needs to reprint this...if they dare!