Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Incredible Adventures Of Janus Stark

Janus Stark was Victorian London's greatest escapologist and illusionist, a star of stage, society and penny dreadfuls, who used his bizarre skills to fight crime in the pages of Smash! and Valiant.
Being born with 'rubber-like, elastic bones', he can twist, turn and contort his body out of any trap, and most of the fun of the strip is watching him do just that.
Like most British comic superdoers, Janus is also a working class hero, having been raised in a brutal orphanage, he escapes to become an Artful Dodger-like thief under the watchful eye of his mentor, blind pickpocket Largo.
Never forgetting his roots, Janus' enemies are generally well-to-do crooks in high society, hiding behind their wealth and status, and a lot of stories end with them not only in the arms of The Peelers, but with all their ill gotten gains donated anonymously to a local poorhouse by the master escapist.
A major part of the strip's appeal was that it was drawn by the mighty Francisco Solano Lopez, a man born to draw grimy, soot-infested backstreets in general, and those of Victorian London in particular.
Janus Stark has an absolute sense of time and place, and if Janus never crossed paths with Sherlock Holmes, then surely they missed each other by mere inches.
Here's how his incredible adventures began.


  1. The colour image is by J.G. Quiros, and there's a great Janus Stark adventure drawn by him on my blog somewhere, if you're interested. Just type Janus Stark into my home page's search box.

  2. Ok cheers Kid, difficult to find stuff somebody hasn't already covered on this here interweb, but any Janus is a good thing!

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  4. Francisco Solano Lopez who shared the same name and was related to a Paraguayan president, drew this and many other British series while living in Spain, where he had set an artist's studio. He never visited England and drew these typically British strips from what he imagined England looked like (he even drew soccer strips).

    In the 1970s, when his friend and mentor Hector German Oesterheld was killed by the military along with his four daughters, Solano had to flee the country because his son also belonged to a political party against the Military Regime in Argentina, as had Oesterheld and his four daughters.

    Whew! And some people think comic book artists lead an easy life!

  5. Not to mention Antonio 'Spy vs. Spy' Prohias falling fould of Castro!
    I've said this before, but for fans of my vintage, it didn't matter that Lopez never came to the UK - his version of England is the one stuck in my head. Or maybe it really was that dark and satanic in the '70's. Even his great football strip Raven On The Wing looks like it's taking place in hell.
    Also reminds me of Alex Nino drawing Teddy Boys into his adaptation of Behold The Man with obviously no idea of what Teddy Boys looked like ( elsewhere on this blog if anyone's interested ).

  6. I love learning about these British characters. So wonky,and so fun!

  7. Alan Davies brought this series up once on an episode of QI (unsurprisingly, Stephen Fry had never heard of it). He marveled at the fact that, in every story, no matter what the threat, it turned out that being able to squeeze through a tight space was exactly the ability needed to defeat the villain.

  8. And that episode of QI is prob'ly on Dave even as we speak...