Ben vows that he will search for his brother and at the same time wipe out the Dragon Flag pirates. He sets about fitting out an old steamship and hiring a crew of Malays. A young upper class Englishman, Monty Phipps (complete with a monocle and pith helmet), joins him in his mission. Phipps in appearance and attitude comes across as a typical upper class English twit. But appearances can be deceptive and Monty is more than capable of looking after himself and dealing with any pirates that unfortunately get in his way. Phipps with an assistant Hassan, are in charge of a gatling gun (a machine gun that fires bullets repeatedly without having to be reloaded). The gatling gun repeatedly gives them a deadly advantage over the pirates.
The series follows Ben, Monty and the shipís crew on their adventures.
The writers were members of The Victor editorial team whilst the artist was the ever dependable Ted Rawlings. Rawlings drew many of The Victor stories set in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The artist had a long association with D.C. Thomsonís providing artwork for the text comics that preceded the publisherís strip comics. Please see the image below Ton Up Tracy from The Rover comic. Rawlings is possibly one of Thomsonís longest serving artists.
Iím a big fan of his artwork (as for me), he had the ability to re-create whichever period the story was set in. Images from his Red MacGregor strips which I viewed as a youngster have remained in my memory over the years. He also drew a couple of Alf Tupper stories, one of which was called Edinburgh or Bust. Many of the pages he drew paid as much attention to the backgrounds as to the main characters and action in the foreground. I have very no information about Rawlings, but I would like to know more about this artist. Interestingly, he never drew any strips for The Hornet.
Alex Vella a Maltese reader of The Victor (the comic was sold in Malta, as well as many other former British Empire countries), and fan of Rawlings work has sent me a couple of pages featuring the artist. (see below). A Rawlings character appears in both pages. One page was drawn by Rawlings himself and the other page by Henricus "Harry" Farrugia. It would be interesting to find out why Rawlings appeared twice in strips and none of the other artists did. (Thanks to Alex for the scans).
Pirates terrorising the South China Seas has always been a problem and continues to be one even to this day. The seas in this area (especially the Malacca Straits between Malaya and Indonesia) are major trading routes which attract pirates. The main countries in the area work hard at patrolling the waters using light, fast boats.
In the adventure below a dastardly Dragon Flag pirate has infiltrated the shipís crew and is set upon wrecking havoc. Will he succeed in destroying the ship, its crew and Ben's chances of ever finding his brother? This episode is from issue 136, 28th September, 1963.