Book cover shows an illustration of Carol Day in the foreground with two different comics panels behind her in the background.
There have never been any professional reprints of Carol Day until now. Credit: Courtesy Slingsby Bros, Ink!

This is the tale of an unlikely trio who came together to save the legacy of a brilliant artist nearly lost to history, British illustrator David Wright. It’s also the origin story of Lance Hallam—an oversize, exquisitely bound book of glorious artwork destined to be displayed. 

Listening to them talk about it, you would think that Roger Clark, Chris Killackey, and Guy Mills had been best friends since childhood. But all three were brought together through the love of a woman, a fictitious woman, named Carol Day. 

Our story begins in 2011 at Club Lago, an Italian restaurant in Chicago, following the second iteration of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2). A small contingent of comic OA (original art) collectors were gathering, hosted by Club Lago owner GianCarlo Nardini, also a comic OA collector. 

On that fateful night, a man named Jeff Singh showed fellow longtime collector Chris Killackey a 1950s British comic strip by David Wright called Carol Day. Killackey describes it like an addict tasting his first drug.

“It’s rare I see something and it absolutely stuns me,” says Killackey, who works in banking and private equity. “I couldn’t stop looking at it . . . something remarkably unique. A work of art.”

Thus began a decade-long search for the original artwork from the strip.

David Wright wrote and illustrated the British newspaper strip Carol Day, which ran in The Daily Mail from 1956 to 1967, when he died suddenly of an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. The strip had a fervent following and was reprinted in 22 countries, but after Wright’s death, it was destined to be lost to history. There have never been any professional reprints of Carol Day until now. 

A grid of nine panels from the strip are wordless and show Carol Day in a range of scenes, including on a date, standing at a window, and walking in a fashion show.
Carol Day is a fashion model in search of the right man in the classic soap-opera style popular at the time.
Credit: Slingsby Bros, Ink!

Wright’s career was the opposite of many comic strip writers in that he began in advertising with a concentration in fashion and was a famous pin-up artist during WWII, later transitioning to strip cartoons, a less respectable trade. The main character, Carol Day, is a fashion model in search of the right man in the classic soap-opera style popular at the time. Carol Day itself encompasses dozens of self-contained, mature stories across hundreds of strips featuring complex characters. Similar to illustrators like Edward Gorey, the artwork of his strip hearkens back to an earlier time, with stunning details and intensely dark crosshatching, evoking multifaceted emotions not seen in typical newspaper comic strips. 

Killackey’s infatuation with Carol Day led him to Roger Clark, who had discovered Wright’s work from a 2002 article by David A. Roach, intriguingly titled “The Best Artist You Don’t Know,” in the magazine Comic Book Artist. Clark was also a prolific collector of comic OA and had acquired approximately 2,500 of the 2,800 strips (of the 3,300 or so that exist) that made it to the U.S., almost all from Wright’s son Patrick.

Clark created ebooks of Carol Day strips on Amazon, but no one was interested (a fact that’s changed since collectors have started recognizing the literal and artistic value of the art). So when Killackey approached him about assembling the OA from Carol Day into a complete story together, Clark was on board, suggesting they publish a proper book, which Killackey had already been pondering. Neither had made an actual book, but Clark knew just the guy: Guy Mills, born in Berwyn, Illinois, who had a publishing background. Like Clark, Mills was an English major with a fondness for Wright’s work. Collectors, assemble! 

Comics are traditionally a man’s world, with mostly men as creators and main characters. The fact that these three men have elevated the woman-centered story of a fashion model is significant, making their collaboration all the more worthwhile. 

Three panels from the strip are seen in this original scan, showing Carol Day deep in thought in her apartment after a date.
The book covers the comic’s second story, entitled Lance Hallam, after Day’s main love interest.
Credit: Slingsby Bros, Ink!

Fans agree that the early run of Carol Day stories are the best, so the trio agreed their first book would cover the second story, entitled Lance Hallam, from 1957, after Day’s main love interest. They spent two-and-a-half years creating Lance Hallam, and the result is nothing short of breathtaking, from immaculate scans of original art in their massive original size, which took years to track down (and were professionally scanned and color-matched to the originals by Chicago’s Joel Oppenheimer, a gallery famous for conservation and restoration) to the striking artwork and stories themselves, the beautiful binding and endpapers, and the commissions from famous comic artists including Brian Bolland (of Batman: The Killing Joke fame), a huge Carol Day fan, who designed the cover. 

The seed from their initial meeting in 2011 had grown into what Killackey calls a “collector-driven project,” and hearing them speak of their admiration for each other, a lifelong friendship had also been born. 

“There’s something special about this project and these two guys that, for me, is the best of the comic art collecting community,” Mills says.

“Without all three of us, it never would have happened,” says Clark. Killackey is a natural leader, bringing passion and money; Mills brings equal obsession as well as enormous technical expertise and publishing experience; and Clark is the expert on Carol Day. Half-jokingly, they agree, the others each bring brains. 

Lance Hallam is a testament to Killackey, Clark, and Mills’s friendship, ethos, and shared zeal for stellar artwork. And it’s a fitting tribute to David Wright, no longer lost to history but found and cherished. 

Lance Hallam by David Wright
Slingsby Bros, Ink!, limited edition hardcover, 148 pp., $350, carol-day.com/buy

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