Mysterious Corby comic book legend gets Royal Mail stamp of approval

The stamps designed by Corby's Alan Davis NNL-190221-114842005
The stamps designed by Corby's Alan Davis NNL-190221-114842005

A reclusive world-famous comic writer illustrator from Corby has designed a commemorative book of Royal Mail stamps.

Alan Davis, who lived in Stuart Road and grew up in the town, has designed a new set of 15 stamps featuring comic book legends including Captain Britain, who he first illustrated in 1985.

Alan Davis, from Corby, has designed a new set of Royal Mail stamps. Photo credit: GabboT, Flickr. 2013. NNL-190221-102958005

Alan Davis, from Corby, has designed a new set of Royal Mail stamps. Photo credit: GabboT, Flickr. 2013. NNL-190221-102958005

Alan learned to draw after copying the imported American superheroes in comics he bought on Corby market.

But despite his popularity, 62-year-old Alan has never sought publicity for his achievements.

In fact, until he was unmasked by reporter Tony Smith in the ET in 1989, nobody knew that the person who had drawn Batman and the X-Men was a former warehouse worker from Corby.

Very few photos of Davis are in the public domain, and the mysterious illustrator only gives interviews on rare occasions.

Iron Man is one of the most iconic images in the book of stamps available next month NNL-190221-112351005

Iron Man is one of the most iconic images in the book of stamps available next month NNL-190221-112351005

One of those was to the ET back in 1989, just a few years after he had first drawn Marvel’s revamped Captain Britain - the first superhero created for the UK market.

Davis had a normal upbringing in Corby and despite getting a distinction in O-level art, he took the same path as that trod by so many successful people from Corby - spending nine years working in a warehouse in the town.

He also took a life drawing class at Tresham to help his technique.

And as our reporter revealed back in 1989, his break into the comic world was a total fluke.

No Caption ABCDE NNL-190221-105852005

No Caption ABCDE NNL-190221-105852005

He sent away for a book called How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way and when there was a delay in its arrival, he contacted the distributors, whose boss asked to see his work.

Impressed, he put Alan in touch with the editor of Marvel UK and after early commissions doing covers and posters, he took over the Captain Britain strip in 1985.

After sending samples of his work to New York he landed the Batman strip before being poached by rival DC Comics to create a new hero called Excalibur.

When our man Tony Smith met Alan, who still lived in Corby at the time, he said thousands of comics filled the shelves of his studio and he adhered to a strict moral code and often sent back scripts if he felt they were too violent or sexist.

Thor - as designed by Alan Davis in this commemorative stamp NNL-190221-112340005

Thor - as designed by Alan Davis in this commemorative stamp NNL-190221-112340005

He said: “Personally, I would never draw anything I wouldn’t show to my own kids,”

“But I do feel if you must show violence, you should show the consequences.

“If people fall off buildings, they should break their legs, not get up as if nothing has happened.”

After the interview, Alan’s fame grew. He was involved in drawing Batman and the Avengers during the 1990s and then Iron Man, Wolverine and X-Men during the 00s. He was also involved in the smash-hit Spiderman movie adaptation in 2002.

Despite this huge success Alan has managed to retain his humility and even in publicity for the new stamp series, he downplays his own contribution.

He said: “I really can’t take all the credit for producing these stamps. The speed of production required in US comics makes it necessary to separate the creative disciplines into four individual jobs. Writer, penciller, inker and colourist. My primary focus is writing and pencilling.

The new stamps will be available on March 14 NNL-190221-111930005

The new stamps will be available on March 14 NNL-190221-111930005

“My long-time collaborator Mark Farmer supplied the blackline inks for the stamps and Laura Martin added the colour.”

During the writing of this piece, all attempts by our reporter to contact Alan failed although many members of his family still live in North Northamptonshire. So Alan, if you’re out there, we’re just sitting here, waiting for the Batphone to ring....

Stamp-by-Stamp

The stamps and a range of collectible products are available now to pre-order from {www.royalmail.com/marvel\here|} and go on general sale from Thursday, March 14, by phone on 03457 641 641 and in 7,000 Post Offices throughout the UK.

Doctor Strange - Once a brilliant yet vain neuro-surgeon, Stephen Strange sought out the help of the Ancient One when his hands were badly damaged in a car crash. Strange’s path led him to become a Master of the Mystic Arts and Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, protecting the world from evil forces.

Thor - The mighty Thor is the Norse God of Thunder. Once cast out of Asgard for his pride, he was trapped on Earth as the injured doctor, Donald Blake. Thor’s banishment is long ended and now he protects both Earth and Asgard as an Avenger.

Captain Marvel - Carol Danvers was an Air Force officer when she met Kree hero Captain Mar-vell. After her DNA mixed with his during an explosion, she gained super powers and took the name Ms Marvel. Following the original’s death, Carol took on the mantle of Captain Marvel to honour his legacy. Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel is in cinemas from 8 March, 2019.

Spider-Man - Peter Parker is Spider-Man, New York’s amazing web-slinging hero. Bitten by a radioactive spider as a teenager, Peter Parker gained arachnid-like abilities and, after his Uncle Ben was murdered, swore to use his abilities to help others – having realised that with great power comes great responsibility.

Black Panther - T’Challa is the Black Panther, ruler of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda and protector of its valuable vibranium supply. T’Challa first travelled to America to learn more about the country’s heroes and soon became a leading member of the Avengers.

Hulk - When mild-mannered scientist Bruce Banner was bombarded by radiation from a gamma bomb, he was transformed into the Incredible Hulk. The green-skinned behemoth is one of the planet’s most powerful and misunderstood heroes – feared by a world he has saved numerous times.

Peggy Carter - Peggy Carter was working for the French Resistance in the Second World War when she met and fell in love with Captain America. The two fought the Axis powers together before they were separated by the war. Peggy went on to become a leading agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division).

Union Jack - The original Union Jack was Lord James Falsworth, who fought in the First World War. When his descendant refused to take on the role, the mantle was passed to Joey Chapman, a working class hero from Manchester, who has gone on to fight alongside the Knights of Pendragon and the Invaders.

Captain Britain - Brian Braddock was chosen by Merlyn to be Britain’s greatest protector. Granted amazing powers, Brian became Captain Britain. He soon learned he was part of a multidimensional Captain Britain Corps and has fought alongside Excalibur and the Avengers to keep his country – and the world – safe from harm.

Iron Man - When terrorists captured billionaire inventor Tony Stark, they forced him to create weapons. With shrapnel near Stark’s heart endangering his life, Stark tricked the terrorists, building a suit of powered armour to defeat them. It was the birth of the armoured Avenger – the invincible Iron Man.