Shelbourn probably knows more about the history of Look-In
than any one person. Colin designed the very first issue
of the comic - including its famous original logo -
and after four years as Art Editor was promoted to the
Editor's post, which he held from 1975 to 1992. This
means he was involved with the comic at the top level
for more than two decades - 21 years of pop culture
passed by his eyes, from Follyfoot to Flintlock, The
Famous Five to Five Star. I met Colin at the offices
of Egmont Publishing in February 2004 ...
What were you doing prior to
joining Look-In in 1971? Were you in comics (like all
the ex-TV21 people such as Alan Fennell, Angus Allan
etc) or more general graphic design?
I was in general graphic design. My degree was in graphic
design and the very first job I ever had was as the
most junior designer on TV Times. This was out of college
- I went to Brighton Art School - and I was there for
about a year or so and then left TV Times to go and
for work for Marshall Cavendish in around 1970. They
were the big new name in partworks and partworks themselves
were quite new then. As it turned out I worked there
for about a year - while I was there I was called back
as a freelancer to do some work with some guys from
TV Times who were putting together a dummy of a children's
magazine. To cut a long story short I came back from
Marshall Cavendish to be the first Art Editor of this
kid's magazine, which is of course what turned out to
be Look-In. So it was through that original TV Times
connection that I got involved.
Angus credits Alan Fennell with
creating the dummy of this magazine - was it Alan who
had come to TV Times or the other way round?
I donít know the history immediately before I came on
board. My involvement was at the TV Times end of things.
What I do remember is that there were two dummies knocking
around. One was Alan's, which was really very like a
kind of TV21 sort of comic with strips based on TV things
and some feature material - it was really a Thunderbirds-y
type thing. Whereas the TV Times one that they called
me in to work on as designer - I wasn't Art Editor or
anything at this early stage - was much more of a magazine
and was much more designed and had luscious photos of
Roger Moore and people like that and showed very much
its TV Times background. What happened was the two sides
came together - what I remember is that we did another
dummy that brought the two together and we must have
shown that to kids I think, to test reaction. That 'come
together' dummy had bits of Alan's and bits of TV Times
- it was less comic-y than Alan's and more magazine-y
than Alan's but more comic-y than TV Times' earlier
about the famous logo that ran from issue 1, 1971 until
1981 - was that on the dummy? Would that be your design?
Yes, that was mine. Long before Macs, when everything
was hand drawn it was based on Gill Extra Bold and that
was a typeface we used elsewhere in the comic as headers
and so on.
So who worked on Look-In in its
I was Art Editor. It was weekly, it was quite a churn.
In the early stages, before first publication, it was
me working on my own - as soon as we went live then
it was me and an assistant in the art dept. On the editorial
side it would be Alan as Editor, a guy called Geoff
Cowan as assistant editor and there might have been
another editorial person, I canít remember. A team of
five then really.
Angus pointed out that Geoff
wrote a few strips at this time too, including Crowther
in Trouble and then later the likes of The Benny Hill
Page and Cannon and Ball. Cowan was freelancing on occasional
Doctor Who strips for Countdown, TV Action and TV Comic
between 1971-4 so that would be pretty much at the same
time as he was sub-editing at Look-In!
Did you help discover and choose the strip artists at
If you think about how I came into it, it was all Alan
at the start, because I didn't know any comic artists.
It was Alan and Geoff and also Angus. It was 'Alan's
team' who knew the artists and so prompted by them I
got in touch with them and saw their samples. Alan was
editor, so he had the final say but he introduced me
to all these artists and their work. As the years went
by newer artists would come to the office and so it
would often be me and not so much Alan that would see
those artists. The people that became famous through
Look-In like Arthur Ranson, Martin Asbury and Harry
North came through the door to me.
The rest had all come through
the TV21/Countdown route really hadnít they - Mike Noble,
Brian Lewis ...
The ones that were 'missing', that didnít come through
from TV21, like Frank Bellamy - he did one-offs for
us but never anything continuous - Ron Embleton, Gerry
Haylock, Harry Lindfield, Frank Langford they were already
very famous after TV21 and were starting to do film
and advertising storyboard work. [Martin Asbury later
took this route too and by the mid-80s was working on
the Superman movies - Al]. But yes, Mike Noble for example,
he stayed with us - a wonderful, wonderful artist.