The Man Who Searched For Fear gathers together three adventure strips drawn by one of Britain's comic strip masters: Bill Lacey. Lacey's first strips appeared in 1951, although the best of his early work appeared in the pages of Super Detective Library, where he was the original artist for Rick Random and Blackshirt. Lacey's work appeared in dozens of comics in the 1950s and 1960s, including Mickey Mouse Weekly, Cowboy Picture Library, Knockout, Express Weekly, Thriller Picture Library, Princess, Film Fun, Valiant, Buster, Tiger and Lion; during this time his strips ranged from adaptations of western novels such as 'The Covered Wagon' to weird fantasy classics like 'Mytek the Mighty'. In the 1970s he drew extensively for Look and Learn and for a number of D. C. Thomson's boys' papers, Bullet, Crunch and Buddy.
The Man Who Searched For Fear is Bill Lacey at his best. The opening series in this new collection relates how Hugo Masterman, a delicate, unhappy child, who dreamed of travelling the world, lived to see his dream turn into a nightmare. In darkest Africa, with his companions dead through injury or illness, Masterman discovers the legendary graveyard of the elephants. Mauled by a lion, he survives by dragging himself back to civilisation on paralysed limbs. His discovery makes him immensely rich, but the tortures he has faced leave him unable to know fear.
Hidden away in Castle Doomcrest on a remote Scottish isle, Masterman offers a prize to any man who can bring fear into his life. His visitors relate bizarre adventures in the hope of earning Masterman's reward: how a man escapes a shark attack and becomes a god to a lost island civilisation; how an assassin plans to destroy an emperor by crashing his imperial train; how a man survives being left without supplies on an Alpine mountain . . . these are just a few of the tales that Masterman hears in his search to stir his emotions.
Adding to the excitement are two bonus stories. "Agent of the Queen" stars Agent Smith of Britain's nascent Secret Service. When Queen Victoria's life is threatened with assassination at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Agent Smith teams up with Captain Jack Stalwart to thwart the threat; and, in a second adventure, they team up again to discover how Russians are smuggling arms into India.
Finally, Lacey's adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" is another—but very different—Victorian adventure as young Pip finds himself in the hands of people who may or may not have his best interests at heart: the convict Magwitch, the odd Uncle Pumblechook, the bizarre Miss Havisham, the beautiful Estella, the lawyer Mr. Jaggers, his rival Bentley Drummle . . . against all odds will Pip still achieve his goal to become a gentleman.