Alf 's editor

A short Q&A with Buff Halley, now retired, former Editor of the Victor comic ; published by Buffs employer, DC Thomson in Dundee, Scotland.

Thanks to Buff for contributing & to his son Duncan for facilitating things via his home in Scandinavia.


    Q : The drawings of Pete Sutherland have always been the perfect embodiment of Alf ( for me at least ). Can you help with some background on Pete ? Was he an employee of DCT or a freelance ? 

    A :  Pete was a freelance                                                                                       
 ( Since Buff's interview, I have been contacted by Pete Sutherlands family & you can read more here
    Q : What other characters did he draw for DCT ?
 He did draw other characters for DC Thomson - the only one I recall is Joe Dodds, the hero of Hornet's light-hearted angling story "Cast, Hook and Strike".
    Q : Could you hazard a guess at the date or year of his death  ? Which artists took over from PS after his death ?   
    A : Pete died, at a guess, in the late Seventies and then several other artists                  were used on "the Tough", but none with the same success. 
    Q : I enjoyed listening to your memories of the creation of Alf's character in the             Victor by Bill Blaine & Gilbert Dalton in the BBC R4 feature.  What were Bill & Gilberts respective roles at  DCT ?
    A : Bill Blain was editor of both Wizard and Rover and was later in charge of all DCT's boys' and girls' publications.  Gilbert Dalton was a free-lance author.      
After consultation with Bill Blain, he wrote the "Tough" text stories for Rover. These were later turned into picture-stories by the editorial staff of Victor. When they ran out, other free-lance writers ( J.O.Cornes was one ) wrote brand-new "Tough" picture-stories to story-lines provided by the editorial staff and after discussion with them.
     Q : Lots of the Victor stories are updates from the Rover written stories from 1949-1959. Were those original stories themselves updates from older ones in different DCT titles ? How did you decide which of the old stories would be updated versus those that  were to be created anew ?  
      AFrom the start, Victor used a mixture of these converted stories and original picture-stories. The text stories used for conversion had to have strong characters and story-lines, as only the bones of a plot could be accommodated in the picture-story format. 
      Q : In some earlier stories Alf is portrayed as a pretty aggressive character, although by the late 60's Alf seemed an altogether more loveable, agreeable character. Was there pressure, either on you by DCT, or from you to the writers, to make him more 'loveable' as time went by ? 
       A: As for Alf Tupper becoming a more lovable character as time moved on, Perhaps he did lose a little of his original rawness, although he always reacted strongly to cheats and snobs. But then Alf did grow up a bit - from an 18-year-old apprentice welder to a journeyman in his twenties.
       Q : Personally I saw Alf as a typical runner from the 'Black country' & came into contact with plenty of similar characters from Harrier clubs in that part of the world when I was running cross country races. The BBC programme had people suggesting the locations of the stories were in the Northumberland area. Where in the country did YOU believe Alf's home to be ?
       A: As regards Alf's location, it could be anywhere in industrial England - wherever the reader wanted it to be.
        Q : Alf's love of 'fish & Chips' has become the characteristic that most people recall about Alf from their childhood, I wonder if you can recall when or how this came into the stories ?
        A: Alf's liking for fish and chips was always there  as far as I remember. In the very first text story, he wanted some but could not afford it!