Scarth: Transnational Perspectives of the British Newspaper Strip

Authors: Twycross, A.

Start date: 3 November 2016

Jo Addams and Luis Roca’s Scarth was an erotic science fiction strip which ran in the British newspaper The Sun from 1969. Premiering as The Sun was re-launched as a tabloid, Scarth featured frequent nudity and storylines infused with political and social commentary that was clearly intended for adult audiences. Whilst this type of openly erotic comic strip was to some extent unusual in British newspaper strips of the period, it was not entirely without precedent. The Sun’s new owner, Rupert Murdoch, intended to use the paper to usurp the position of the Daily Mirror as Britain’s best-selling tabloid. The Mirror had a long history of publishing adult continuity strips, including Norman Pett’s hugely successful erotic comic Jane and the time-travelling exploits of Garth, and comics continued to play an important role in the Mirror’s daily offering to readers, which The Sun was keen to emulate.

In some ways, therefore, Scarth’s appearance can be understood within the context of the domestic British newspaper market, and the established traditions of the strips within it. Yet Scarth also has an undeniably international flavour, and can also be read as being an active participant in an emerging trans-national trend towards adult science fiction and erotica that was gaining ground across much of Europe. This paper will investigate the ways in which Scarth can be understood in both British and European contexts, and discuss how the strip is characteristic of the increasingly interdependent relationship that existed between British and European comics of the period.

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