Rebellion Comic Classics
services: t-shirt design, illustration
software: adobe illustrator, photoshop
Industry: comics, fashion
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been an avid collector of British comics. I was hooked on them after reading my dad’s old comics annuals from when he was a child. My collection now is quite large featuring comics from the 1940s all the way up to the present day. You can imagine my joy when I was able to work alongside Rebellion Publishing to create a range of t-shirts featuring the classic comics in their library like Buster, Whizzer and Chips, and Cheeky.
Rebellion own the rights to some of the most popular comics from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, like Buster, Monster Fun, Shiver and Shake, and Oink to name a few. My initial idea for the range was trying to get as many of the characters from each comic onto a shirt design. Thankfully my years of collecting finally came in handy. I researched each comic and looked through my own collection to find each character to add to the design. I firstly created a “gang” of characters all in one big group. I liked the way it looked, but felt it did appear a bit cluttered. It was then that I hit upon the idea of adding each character into a comic strip format. Each would have their own box or share with their co-starring characters.
Each character’s artwork was converted into vector art so they could be scaled and placed within the design with ease. Once all the characters were placed it was just a matter of colouring them. I created a classic comic colour palette and filled in the colours as needed. Each comic has its own unique colours which were incorporated into the design and the mastheads.
All available characters from each comic’s run were included in their respective t-shirt designs. It was good fun finding and digitising these classic characters, and even more enjoyable discovering some strips I’d never heard of. I created the whole range of 12 designs each with their own colour-ways and unique quirks so each shirt didn’t look identical. I then sent them all to Rebellion for approval before launch. They were happy with the designs and I launched the range early in 2023. Each design was added to the catalogue of Apparel of Laughs under the title Comic Classics.
The shirt range launch caused a ripple of excitement throughout the British comic fandom. Most of these comics hadn’t had any merchandise created for them since before 2000, so they were instantly popular amongst their ardent fans. Plenty of comic blogs posted about the new range which brought collectors flocking to Apparel of Laughs. I was surprised by the best selling shirts from the collection. As a collector myself, I thought that the longer running comics like Buster and Whizzer and Chips would be the most popular designs, and yet loads of the more obscure comic shirts also were purchased.
Having the opportunity to work alongside Rebellion Publishing to create a range of classic comic t-shirts was brilliant. These comics and characters have been a big part of my life, so it was a joy to work with them to create new designs that other collectors would enjoy too. I was in the privileged position of being able to use the artwork from some of the greatest comic artists this country has produced while making these shirt designs. The final results are something I am very proud of. I’m so glad I was able to bring back these brilliant old comics and reignite nostalgia in collectors and fans alike.