Calamity James - Creation & Concept

Creation & Concept

There were several variations of the visual appearance of Calamity James before a final image was decided on. Calamity James has black hair, wears black trousers, and has a red jumper with the number 13 on it. He has big eyes, and lots of buckteeth, but in his early days, he had small eyes and only two buckteeth. In earlier strips he was also shown under a permanent black rain cloud.

A distinctive feature of the strip is its cluttered appearance, with much surreal and incidental background detail. Various themes recur; notably the "Little Squelchy Things" which appear in a wide variety of guises and tend to be visual gags, though they may take part in the story (for instance, James may trip over one), and a constant scatter of winning lottery tickets, notes with a large sum of money on them, diamonds, gold bars, and bags with 'Vast Dosh' written on them which James walks past yet somehow never manages to notice. Once, when he was complaining about his lack of money, Alex told him to look around (he was surrounded by one of each of the above), as if he had just noticed them, but then it turns out he was referring to busking. Another recurring feature is the appearance of bizarrely-named factories and other buildings, such as "Lumpy Custard Factory" and "Knicker Elastic Testing Sheds", that appear in the background throughout the strips.

Tom Paterson has been the main artist for the strip, although Steve Bright has drawn it on occasions, and Bob Dewar ghosted the strip in the 1980s. John Geering and Henry Davies drew some preliminary sets for the character before he first appeared in the comic. He hasn't appeared as regularly as some other characters, as Paterson has also drawn other strips for the same comic including Minnie the Minx, The Numskulls and Dennis the Menace.

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