Real Name: William "Billy" Farmer
Identity/Class: Human mutate
Affiliations: Professor Jarman, Joey Greaves (best friend), Hunter (his dog)
Enemies: The Cat Man (burglar), Thaddeus Clegg (newspaper editor), "Ginger" Moggs (school bully), Vampirello the Human Bat (circus acrobat), the "Ghost of Lurcher Creel", the Snow Beast (a.k.a. Conrad Klaws), the Leopard Man robot (a.k.a. the Grey Ghost); Inspector Craddock (police officer), the Roller Monster; the Leopard Man's Ghost, Clive Talbot, the Alien (wrestler)
Known Relatives: Charlie (uncle), Joan (aunt)
Aliases: The Leopardman; Leopardboy; the Leopard from Lime Street; the Beast of Selbridge
Base of Operations: Selbridge
Powers/Abilities: Billy is superhumanly strong and agile, and is able to run at incredible speeds, at one point outrunning a motor bike going at over fifty miles an hour. As time passed, his body continued to mutate - his eyes became green and started to glow in the dark, and his canine teeth became fangs. He is able to see in the dark, his hearing is superhuman, and he possesses a "leopard-sense" which tingles in the presence of danger. Possessed of superhuman reflexes, he also gained a noticeably aggressive attitude, suggesting the mutation extended to his brain and was altering his personality too. He came to prefer his meat nearly raw.
He armed himself with a nylon rope on the end of a set of claws, for climbing, and a "Leopard-Gun" which fired paint or dye. His utility belt also included a camera, for his photography.
History: "Catch me if you can...hunt me if you dare!"
Thirteen year old orphan Billy Farmer had a keen interest in photography, so much so that he ran the school magazine (Farmer's World) single-handed, and had ambitions to become a reporter. While taking photos of Professor Jarman's experimental zoo for the Selbridge Secondary School's magazine, Billy was scratched by Sheba, a leopard the scientist had been treating with a radioactive serum. Jarman, concerned that Billy might have been infected, checked the boy over, and concluded that he appeared largely unhurt. However upon returning home to the house he shared with his abusive Uncle Charlie and sickly Aunt Joan, Billy discovered that he had gained superpowers.
For some time Selbridge had been targeted by a burglar known as The Cat-Man, whom no one had been able to get a decent look at. Billy figured he could use his new abilities to snap a photograph of the crook and make money selling the image to the newspapers. While searching for film, Billy found a pantomime cat costume, a legacy from the school's Dick Whittington Pantomime the year before. Inspired by his new-found powers and his target, Billy modified the costume, dying it to give it spots, and creating his new identity: The Leopardman (a.k.a The Leopard from Lime Street).
Billy not only got photos of the Cat Man, but also managed to capture the criminal for the police. He sold his photos to Thaddeus Clegg, editor of the Selbridge Sun. Although Thaddeus purchased the picture, his suspicions were aroused, especially by tales of the "Beast of Selbridge", and the newspaperman would prove to be an ongoing thorn in the Leopardman's side for many years. His alter ego's reputation would not be improved by several impostors who cropped up to sully his name, most notably a robot doppelganger armed with superhuman strength and lasers in its eyes.
In one of his less intelligent moments, Billy briefly went adventuring with his dog, Hunter, disguised wearing a mask as the "Leopard Man's Dog". However Billy abandoned this idea when it nearly allowed people to work out his true identity.
He continued to adventure for many years, gaining quite an attitude as the years progressed.
(Untitled, Buster Annual 1983) When a leopard and her cub escape from the zoo, the Leopardman is able to coax them both back to the zoo before they hurt anyone or the authorities hurt the animals.
(Untitled, Buster Annual 1984) Two crooks keep trying to steal a local farmer's donkey, even after they have been driven off by the Leopardman a couple of times. Discovering the donkey used to belong to a crook who died without revealing where he had hidden his stolen loot, the Leopardman allows the crooks to get away with the animal the next time, follows them as it leads them to the stash, and then recovers both the donkey and the stolen goods.
Comments: Created by Tom Tully (writer) and Mike Western (artist ) - Mike drew almost all the Leopard strips (thanks to Jim Croasdale for this information).
One of Buster's longest running strips, the Leopard from Lime Street ran between 27th March 1976 and 18th May 1985. After the strip finished, it was reprinted from the start in colour, which ran until around 1990.
It seems Billy's main motivation to become a hero was so he could photograph himself and make some money from the pictures. Later on in his career, after his costumed identity had become known as "the Beast of Selbridge" and "the Leopardman", someone began merchandising him within the strip's universe - the residents of Selbridge could buy Leopardman transfers, jigsaw puzzles, plastic claw cords and the like at local newsagents.
The colour art of the Leopard of Lime Street used at the top of the page is by Duncan Fegredo, and was done in 2004 for a a charity auction and a set of limited edition cards sold at the 6th Annual Comics Festival in Bristol, England, with all money raised going to the charity Child Line. It's a beautiful piece of work, and shows that the Leopard is still fondly remembered, years after he departed the pages of Buster.
The Leopardman turned up again in Zenith, one of the gathering of heroes assembled to fight the Lliogor. He was killed by Mr Why on Earth 666. However this should not be considered an "official" end to his story.
Billy's adventures were reprinted from the very first issue in Starscape, available from the Superhero Store , but sadly the run didn't last very long.
His adventures were also reprinted in the French title Antares - there is a copy of one of the covers here. And Dimitris informs me "the Leopardboy" has been printed in the '80s and at least some part of the '90 in small parts in the Greek comix magazine "". (Had to use image, as I can't get the site to recognise the Greek letters)
CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with
The Lime from Leopard Street, a foe of Buster Comic's Master Mind
Leopardman, a U.S. creation
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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