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Friday, August 15, 2008

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: THE TRUTH ABOUT WILSON!

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: THE TRUTH ABOUT WILSON -- W.S.K. WEBB!

The Truth About Wilson is one of the most unique curiosity in sports fiction. It features the first superhero track star, and while totally unbelievable, its sense of tongue-in-cheek fun makes it an outstanding addition to any sports fiction collection.

Unlike Batman or The Hulk, The Truth About Wilson won’t be a summer blockbuster anytime soon. In 1943 England, however, Wilson, The Man In Black, was the stuff of legends. In the midst of a war with Germany, any British sporting victory was considered a morale booster, even if it took place in the pages of The Wizard, a boy’s adventure broadsheet.

Any champion runner would have been cause for celebration, but a mystery man who lived secretly on the Yorkshire Moors, was reputed to be 150 years old, and shattered athletic records all over the world like cheap crockery, was a major sensation. A slight, wiry figure in an old fashioned, black running costume that would be very stylish today, Wilson appeared out of nowhere to run races, participate in track events, and generally defend the standards of the British Empire against all-comers. At the end of whatever record crushing track event he completed, Wilson would virtually collapse before slinking off to rejuvenate himself secretly on the vast English moors.


Wizard story paper issue number 1069 first printed The Truth About Wilson as a text story on 24th July 1943 before it was reprinted as a picture story in Hornet comic in 1964.

A number of years later the character of Wilson was resurrected in the British comic Spike as The Man In Black who mysteriously appears at the start of a 1500 metres race and brakes all records for the 400, 800 and 1500 metres. Spike readers were left pondering the real identity of the mysterious runner who only identified himself as being British and called Smith.

Smith is befriended by reporter Harry Cobb who tracks him to his home Amberside Moor in Yorkshire. Over the next sixteen weeks Smith wins many events, including the marathon and the pole vault, and often refers to the many feats William Wilson completed in the past.

Harry Cobb slowly begins to suspect Smith is, in fact, the athlete William Wilson -- even though it would make him over two hundred years old.

In issue sixteen of Spike, Smith finally admits he is William Wilson and gives Harry Cobb his diaries. Wilson’s diaries were then printed the following week, in issue seventeen, as The Truth About Wilson.

Finally, a fascinating collection of the serialized prose stories was produced in paperback in the 60’s under the title The Truth About Wilson by W.S.K. Webb.

Hard to find, The Truth About Wilson is a true collector’s treasure.

TO READ ONE OF THE ORIGINAL WILSON STORIES CLICK HERE



1 comment:

  1. HI I have ALL the comics Wizard Hotspur Rover with Wilson in them but they have turned brown with age I wondered is there a Book with all the stories in it

    Alan Woods

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