Britain’s Greatest Footballer Is Back: Rebellion Announces The Return Of Roy Of The Rovers

by Richard Bruton

Rebellion has announced details for the exciting return of Britain’s greatest footballer. Better than Beckham, more skillful than either Bobby or Jack Charlton, more mesmerising than Messi, this is football’s original hero. Yes, it’s the return of Roy Of The Rovers.
Since 1954, the exploits of Roy Race at Melchester United have thrilled generations of football and comic fans, but since 2001 there hasn’t been any new material featuring one of football’s greatest.
All that’s set to change in 2018, when Rebellion relaunch Roy Of The Rovers in a series of graphic novels and young readers fiction books this September!
The new graphic novels will be published three times a year during the football season (that’s soccer for you if you’re over there in the USA), with three 56 page hardback graphic novels per football season, launching in September 2018, January 2019 and April 2019.

Roy Of The Rovers is one of the great comic icons. I grew up reading Roy Race’s footballing adventures so I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the team bringing Roy back for a new generation!—-Rob Williams

The graphic novels will be written by Rob Williams (Judge Dredd, Suicide Squad, Amazing Spider-Man) and illustrated by Ben Willsher (2000 ADDoctor Who Magazine) and it all begins on 6 September 2018 with Roy of the Rovers: Kick-Off.
Alongside the graphic novels, Rebellion have recruited best-selling children’s football author Tom Palmer (Football AcademyFoul Play) to write three middle grade fiction books alongside the graphic novels, launching in October 2018 and following on in February 2019 and May 2019. The first, Roy of the Rovers: Scouted, will be released 4 October 2018.

Roy of the Rovers debuted in Tiger, 11 September 1954. It ran for 22 years, with the seemingly eternally youthful Roy Race steering his team, Melchester Rovers to continued success. In 1976, Roy graduated to his own Roy Of The Rovers weekly comic, which ran for 851 issues, until 1993. The success was incredible, with the comic regularly selling 450,000+ each week. Sadly, as the years went on and sales declined, old Roy was retired from the game, in tragic fashion, with a helicopter crash in the final issue of the weekly comic.
Roy Race senior returned in a new monthly Roy Of The Rovers comic in 1993. But the helicopter accident had cost him his famous left foot, amputated following the accident. The reigns passed to Roy’s son Rocky, in a new, grittier set of tales aimed more for a teen market.
Various iterations of Roy Of The Rovers have run since then, whether as “best of” collections, or smaller strips in football magazines such as Match of the Day and Shoot!
But time marched on, and as Barrie Tomlinson, the editor of Roy of the Rovers comic, said in 2008:

…everyone seemed to be growing up a bit more quickly, and they wanted stories that were more realistic.

Roy was created by the author Frank S. Pepper and artist Joe Colquhoun, using the pen-name “Stewart Colwyn”. Other notable names working on Roy over the years include; Derek Birnage, footballer Bobby Charlton (although this was mere PR, as in truth it was still Birnage writing Roy!), Tom Tully, Ian Rimmer, Yvonne Hutton, David Sque, Mike White, Barrie Mitchell, Rob Davis, David Jukes, Sean Longcroft and Garry Marshall.
Since 2001, all we’ve had from Melchester United are reprints and collections. But like any great icon of football or comics, you knew we’d hear more from Roy Race eventually. The purchase of the entire Fleetway collection of strips in 2016 by Rebellion (publishers of 2000AD) meant that getting a new Roy Of The Rovers comic in some form was a case of when, not if!

(The three ages of Roy Race – Grandfather, the famous father, and the cocky son. Art by Rob Davis)

(Tiger 230 – 1959)

(The classic years – Roy Race Senior – 1978)

(The monthly comic, art by Rob Davis, with a miserable Rocky Race reliving his family’s former glories. From Roy Of The Rovers Monthly, issue 6, 1994.)

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