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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Comic Clippings - 30 November

Not much news from chez Holland. I've spent the past week trying to generate publicity for the upcoming relaunch of Look and Learn (what? You've not subscribed yet? Do it now!) and between that, various radio appearances and a fair amount of digging to create all the notes you can see below I've not had much chance to do anything else. There's not much actual news generated in the world of old British comics and I limit myself with new comics as there are other very good news sites (Down the Tubes, Lying in the Gutters and the Forbidden Planet Blog) that cover what's new in the UK far better than I can. I just note the occasional story that interests me (and, hopefully, you).
  • Eddie Campbell has a blog, The Fate of the Artist. He recently published a piece on the problems he has faced getting the latest edition of From Hell onto the shelves. He also notes that "There have been enough new Ripper theories since we finished From Hell that Alan has posited the idea of an additional appendix, a "Gull-catchers 2", to bring it up to date. Perhaps to be released as part of an anniversary special in 2008 (twenty years since we started it and ten years since we finished it. But hey, this is just a rumour. You heard it here first."
  • Sales figures for annuals week ending 18th November: Doctor Who Annual (23,308), Beano Book (14,287), Match Annual (9,996) and Bratz Annual (8,228). That pushes cumulative sales of Doctor Who Annual over 150,000 and Beano Book to over 93,000.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fab 208

The death of Alan Freeman on 27 November (obituaries in The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian) led Guy Adams of The Independent to reminisce about the old Radio Luxembourg. I was never a listener but Luxembourg had two major connections with comics.

First was the 'Spread Your Wings' show, launched in 1954, which featured both 'Luck of the Legion' and 'Dan Dare's Space Adventure', probably the first British comic strip ever adapated to the radio (although I'll be happy to be proven wrong).

Luxembourg also inspired Fabulous, the girls' pop magazine and comic launched by Newnes in January 1964. Two and a half years later it wore its inspiration on its cover when the title changed to Fabulous 208 and, later still, to Fab 208 under which title it lasted until September 1980.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

John Wyndham

I was planning to put these up last night to coincide with the screening of the John Wyndham story Random Quest and the re-screening of John Wyndham: The Invisible Man of... on BBC4 last night, but I was too knackered! So, a day late, a selection of Wyndham covers from Penguin Books, who helped make Wyndham a household name and his novels best-sellers.










Penguin did publish other Wyndham novels (and many other editions of Day of the Triffids) but this is just a taster from the titles that are on my shelf. I have a soft spot for Wyndham's novels and an article about Wyndham was my first sale after going freelance in 1990. Oh, boy. Has it really been sixteen years?

John Yunge-Bateman

Although credited in Swift Annual 5 (1958) as Younge Bateman, the artist John Yunge-Bateman appeared elsewhere in the 1950s (e.g. TV Comic Annual) drawing nature subjects, although he is probably best known for a couple of limited-edition slipcased books he illustrated for the Golden Cockeral Press.

The Yunge-Batemans seem to be centred in Folkestone, Kent with a number of notable relatives: I believe the hyphenated name comes from a combination of two marriages.

The first was the marriage on 18 January 1844 of Royal Naval surgeon William Bateman (b. Folkeston, c.1811) and his wife, Jane Carr Terry (1816?-1885), second daughter of Wilkins George Terry, late of the 1st Life Guards, and his wife Christiana Isabella (nee Tytler).

Wilkins Terry's younger daughter, Christina Isabella Terry (c.1826-1906) married Danish ship broker Christian Henrich Jung (c.1832-?) on 16 August 1860. The 'Jung' spelling is noted in the International Genealogical Index, although in the 1861 census, the couple were listed as Junge.

Marcus George Heinrich Junge and George Heinrich Marcus Junge were born in Clifton, Gloucestershire, in 1861. Christian Junge would appear to have died in the 1860s as, by the time of the 1871 census, his widow and two sons (listed as Marcus G. and George M. Yunge) were living with her sister Jane and brother-in-law William in Folkestone. Thereafter, they were known as Yunge-Bateman.

George M. was successfully admitted into the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1879, and rose through the ranks of the Army to Lieutenant in 1889, Captain in 1890 and Major in 1900, a year after sailing for South Africa. George married Sybil Magdalen Mary Ridgway in 1906. She died on 15 October 1945, already a widow, although it is unknown when George died.

His brother Marcus G. was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1883 and gained his diploma in 1892. At the time of the 1901 census, Marcus was a surgeon living in Folkeston with his family which included his wife Evelyn Gertrude (nee Elliott, b. London, 1867) and sons Esme George (b. 1895) and John Erskine (b.1897), both born in Folkeston.

J. E. Yunge-Bateman was admitted as a cadet at the Royal Naval College at Osborne in January 1910 and eventually retired as a Lieutenant-Commander in 1926. He was married at Maidenhead on 28 April 1928 to Miss Eileen Magee, daughter of the late Rev. A. V. Magee and Mrs. Magee of Keith Lodge, Maidenhead, and honeymooned in Cannes.

All this family history doesn't tell us much about John Yunge-Bateman the artist. Was he the former Navy Commander or was it a son? The internet doesn't help much. The Bridgeman Art Library simply lists him as active in 1946-59. As you can see from the list below, he was actually active well into the 1960s and Bridgeman, oddly, has some examples of his work, one of which they date c.1940 which means he flourished c.1940-65 at least.

Illustrated Books
The Bumble Bee. Special visual aid book for schools by Charles N. Buzzard. London, "Daily Mail" School-Aid Department, 1946.
Shining Hours by Charles N. Buzzard. London, Collins, 1946.
The Rape of Lucrece by William Shakespeare. London, Winchester Publications, 1948.
Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare. London, Winchester Publications, 1948.
Wanderlust. A travel anthology compiled by Roy Lacey. London, Winchester Publications, 1948.
A Girl's Hobby Book by Louise Fellowes. London, Falcon Press, 1950.
Advanced Angling. How to catch the fish of the week by the Angling Editor, News of the World, illus. with J. Tamblyn-Watt. London, News of the World, 1952.
A Pad in the Straw by Christopher Woodforde. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1952.
Ways of the Ant by John Crompton. London, Collins, 1954.
Lesser Worlds by Nesta Pain. London, Macgibbon & Kee, 1957.
The Metamorphosis by Ovid. London, Golden Cockeral Press, 1958.
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fitzgerald. London, Golden Cockeral Press, 1958.
Your World by J. J. B. Dempster in association with D. Dempster & P. B. Dempster. London, Odhams Press, 1958.
Coal Mining by John Eric Davey, illus. with Arthur Horowicz. London, A. & C. Black, 1960.
What Happened by Bernard A. Workman & Susan M. Ault. Welwyn, James Nisbet & Co., 1960-61.
Search For What Happened by Bernard A. Workman & Susan M. Ault. Welwyn, James Nisbet & Co., 1962.
Marvels of the Sea and Shore by Oren Arnold. London, Abelard-Schuman, 1963.
Imagine and Write by Wallace Eyre. Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1964.
Let's Look at Cats by Charles Trivet. London, Macmillan & Co., 1964.
One Man, One Machet by T. M. Aluko. London, Heinemann Educational Books, 1965.

(* Most of the information here was derived from birth, death, marriage and census records plus various reports in The Times. I would like to thank Terry Baker for additional information but any errors are mine.)

Update: 30 July 2008

A note from Roy Behrens of Bobolink Books: "It may be of interest to you that, according to Guy Hartcup in Camouflage (1980), Yunge-Bateman was head of a British naval camouflage section during World War II (p. 53)."

Definitely of interest. I'm still tempted by John Erskine Yunge-Bateman as our artist. Born 1897, he'd have only been in his late sixties when the last of the above listed books was illustrated.

Vere Lorrimer

Vere Lorrimer was the writer of 'Billy Bean' for TV Comic in the 1950s, a series of stories about an eccentric inventor and the endless problems he faces when his Funny Machine goes wrong.

For Lorrimer this was something of a minor sideline as his main output was as a writer, director and producer for TV. Billy Bean and His Funny Machine was a BBC puppet show that ran for 24 episodes from July 1953, written by Lisa Lincoln and produced by Lorrimer. The puppets -- Billy Bean (voiced by Peter Hawkins) and his assistant Yoo-Hoo (Ivan Owen) -- were designed by John Wright and operated by Jane Tyson and Elizabeth Donaldson. Other voices were provided by Gaylord Vavallaro and Dick Vosburgh.

Vere Lorrimer was born on 8 June 1920 and, after starring in a school play, trained at Fay Compton School of Dramatic Art before entering the theatre, thanks to a friend of his father's, as an assistant stage manager and small part player at the Palace Theatre, Watford. Joining up at the age of 20, Lorrimer served with the tank regiment but did not see any action as he was offered a chance to join the Stars in Battledress entertainment unit, directing and acting in several revues.

Back in civvies, he worked as a pianist, actor and stage manager before finding a regular role as artistic director at the Royal Artillery Theatre, Woolwich. After a few seasons producing and directing touring plays, he joined the BBC in 1953 where he made his directorial debut on children's programmes such as The Sooty Show.

Lorrimer left puppetry for live action before long, directing episodes of The Eggheads (1961), Compact (1962), Dixon of Dock Green (1965-76), Z-Cars (1965-67), Softly, Softly (1969-76), Counterstrike (1969), Comedy Playhouse (1970), Doomwatch (1970), Trial (1971), The Mackinnons (1977), When the Boat Comes In (1977) and Blake's 7 (1978-80) and The Enigma Files (1980). He returned to Blake's 7 as the producer of the fourth and final series (1981), a role he also had on Tenko (1982) and the thrillers The Dark Side of the Sun (1983) and Maelstrom (1985), both written by Michael J. Bird.

Retiring from the BBC, he continued to write, produce and direct plays as well as teaching film and TV at drama schools. He appeared in a late episode of Doctor Who as a tour guide in the Sylvester McCoy series 'Silver Nemesis' (1988) and attended a number of Blake's 7 conventions. He lived in Worthing and died on 1 October 1998, aged 78.


(* An interview with Vere Lorrimer appears at Horizon, the official Blake's 7 fan club website alongside a bibliography by Andrew Pixley. Very useful they were too when I was putting the above together.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Molly Blake

After all the sad news of the past couple of days I thought I'd knock out something fairly easy and, having already covered, poorly, Neville Main, I thought I'd take a look at Molly Blake, who also drew Muffin the Mule and was a fellow contributor to TV Comic. I have a copy of the TV Comic Annual 1958 (1957) to which she contributed the story 'Prudence Kitten's Pantomime'. What could be more innocuous? And from a previous glance around the internet, I knew there wasn't a huge amount of information.

Ah... how wrong I was. It didn't take very long to establish that Molly (rather than Mollie as she is credited in the annual) was the daughter of Annette Mills, famous as the actress and singer who starred alongside Muffin the Mule in For The Children and Children's Hour. Prudence Kitten (a glove puppet rather than a marionette) was created by Mills for very young children and made her debut on For The Children on 7 June 1950.

Annette Mills with Prudence and Primrose Kitten

To learn something about Molly, the obvious place to start is with her mother. Annette Mills was born Edith Mabel Mills in London, the daughter of Lewis Mills (1867-1953) and his wife Edith Catherine (nee Baker). Lewis was a schoolmaster and the family were living in Battersea at the time of the 1901 census [where 6-year-old Edith's place of birth is given as Clapham, rather than Chelsea as per her obituary in The Times]. In February 1908, Edith was joined by a young brother, Lewis Ernest Watts Mills, who was born at the Watts Naval School in North Elmham, Norfolk. The family subsequently moved to Suffolk when Lewis became headmaster of a school in Belton, near Great Yarmouth. Mother had once aspired to be a professional dancer and taught her children the basic steps which were to prove useful to both of them in their future careers.

Lewis jr. worked as a shipping clerk but, as a teenager, headed for London and -- as John Mills -- began appearing in revue, making his debut in the chorus of The Five O'clock Girl at the London Hippodrome on 21 March 1929. He was spotted by Noel Coward whilst touring in the Far East which led to leading parts in the West End and thence to movies, Scott of the Antarctic, The Colditz Story, Above Us the Waves, Ice Cold in Alex, Hobson's Choice and Ryan's Daughter being just a few of the classics he starred in.

Edith, meanwhile, had been educated at King's Lynn High School and the Convent of Notre dame at Norwich before studying the piano and organ at the Royal Academy of Music. Although she hoped to become a concert pianist, her intentions changed when her fiance was killed in action in France.

Edith married Henry W. D. McClenaghan at Devonport in 1917 and Molly S. McClenaghan was born soon after at St. Albans. During Molly's earliest years, Edith trained as a dancing teacher and took a job teaching at a dancing academy in Notting Hill Gate.

In the early 1920s, she teamed up with a dancer named Robert Sielle who, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, was an American, although he was actually born Cecil Leon Roberts in Liverpool in 1895. He had adopted his initials 'C. L.' as a surname to avoid confusion with another professional dancer of the same name. Roberts was a bank clerk in the Wirral before joining the infantry in 1914. However, he soon transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and his plane was subsequently shot down over enemy territory and he spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner.

Sielle returned to England in 1918 and, after being demobbed, launched himself into a new career as a professional dancer. By 1924, he and Miss Annette Mills (as she was billed) were already described as "the famous dancers" and putting on exhibition dances in London and France including a long-running cabaret at the Piccadilly Hotel. They also performed at The Little Theatre, the Alhambra, the Coliseum, sometimes billed as "the good humoured dancers" and one reviewer commented that their dancing was "greatly to the taste of the audience."

One reason for their popularity was that new sensation, the Charleston: while on tour of the southern United States, they had spent a weekend in the country and there stumbled on the dance at a local dance-hall. Sielle and Mills are credited with introducing the dance to Europe in 1925. Another tour, of South Africa, saw the couple try to introduce another new dance the 'Moochi', although The Times wondered if it was "an authentic Zulu dance or ... an elaborate parody of modern dancing." (The Times, 18 November 1930)

Annette Mills and Robert Sielle had married in late 1925 but the marriage had not lasted, despite their continuing partnership as dancers. They were divorced in early 1930 and split as dancers when Annette broke her leg leaping through a window on stage in Cape Town.

Cecil Leon Roberts later married Marguerite Milton (nee Lucas) in 1945, a marriage that lasted until her death in 1978. Roberts himself died on 20 May 1983, aged 88. Turning his back on dancing, he set himself up in business in the early 1930s as a picture framer and had a very successful career working for the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery amongst others.

It was around this time that Annette Mills met the artist Gluck. Hannah Gluckstein was born in 1895 to a well off family (her father had founded the Lyons tearoom chain and her mother was a popular musician) and had attended St. John's Wood School of Art (1913-16) before leaving London for the Newlyn artist's colony in Lamorna, Cornwall. She returned to London -- although for years divided her time between London and Cornwall -- and worked in a studio at Gordon Selfridge's famous store doing instant sketches of customers. Gluckstein -- who by now insisted on being called Gluck -- had her first exhibition in 1924, followed by a number of one-artist exhibitions given by the Fine Arts Society.

Noted for always wearing male clothing, Gluck was in a relationship with Sybil Cookson, a journalist and romance novelist, who, according to this site, "left abruptly on finding Gluck in her studio with Annette Mills." The implication that Gluck and Annette Mills had a fling is also recorded in Diane Souhami's Gluck, 1895-1978: Her Biography (London, Pandora, 1988; rev. London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000). Gluck began another relationship, with Constance Fry, shortly after.

Mills had, in the early 1930s, turned her talents to songwriting and, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
Her first hit was the song and dance ‘Hands, knees, and boomps-a-daisy’, and many of her songs from the 1930s, including ‘With a Feather in her Tyrolean Hat’, were published and became popular. She appeared in cabaret and revues, and for four years wrote the words and music for C. B. Cochran's Trocadero supper shows.

Annette Mills appeared on the first In Town Tonight programme on the BBC on 18 November 1933, and went on to broadcast frequently, playing and singing her own light comedy songs and accompanying others. Her full-length radio shows included the musicals The Golden Rose (1936), Hawaiian Rhapsody (1936), and The Talking Horse (1937), and in 1936 she wrote the lyrics and the script for an all-black variety programme, Molasses Club. A talented mimic, she devised a programme, People who have Sung my Songs (1938), in which she appeared as a songwriter doing impersonations of stars such as Douglas Byng singing her songs. She appeared in the series Airs and Disgraces in 1939. She also had some contracts with Radio Luxemburg as an announcer on the Pond's Cold Cream programme, and wrote signature tunes such as ‘The Phillips' Tonic Yeast March’.

At the beginning of the Second World War, during the first air-raid warning, Annette Mills wrote the song ‘Adolf’, which became a great hit. In spring 1940 she went to Paris, where she spent three months as a cabaret artist at Lucienne Boyer's club Chez Elle: while there, she broadcast regularly to Britain, and also toured the Maginot line entertaining French troops. Although she wanted a job as a BBC announcer or producer, this did not materialize, and she spent the next two years entertaining the troops and broadcasting on the Home Service and the Forces' Programme. Her most famous wartime songs were ‘When we're home, sweet home again’ and ‘Un jour’ (1940), written at the request of the BBC French section. In November 1942, on her way back from a troop concert, she was seriously injured in a car accident, breaking both legs, and spent nearly two years in hospital, undergoing a series of operations. She came out briefly to be carried on stage for Variety Bandbox in June 1944, but spent most of her convalescence writing short stories, some of which were broadcast by the BBC, including Mum (1943), which was repeated several times and translated into Afrikaans and Spanish for overseas transmission. She also wrote plays, and Rotten Row Speaking, a hospital play, was adapted for television in 1947.
It is interesting to note that the radio play Golden Rose (re-broadcast a number of times in the late 1930s) was based on an original story by Mills and David Blake. David H. Blake was shortly to marry her daughter, Molly S. McClenaghan in Hampstead in 1939.

Molly Blake would go on to become a regular artist for her mother's creations as well as illustrating Far Morning by Mary Hayley Bell, her uncle Sir John Mill's second wife. Molly and David Blake were living at 9 Gloucester Walk, W.8, in 1957, but split up shortly afterwards. For some years she lived at 8 Nassau Road, S.W.13 (ca. 1958/63) before moving to 33 Clavering Avenue, S.W.13 (ca. 1965). Before seperating, the couple had a son David and a daughter, Susan, the latter better known as Susie Blake of Victoria Wood--As Seen on TV and Coronation Street fame.

Now in her late eighties, Molly Blake is still alive, although I gather somewhat reclusive. There isn't a great deal known about her, as you can see... but that doesn't mean it hasn't been fascinating trying to find out what there is to be found.

Books for children
Prudence and Primrose, illus. Kathleen Dance. London, Publicity Products, 1956.
Prudence and Celia, illus. Sheila Findlay. London, Publicity Products, 1957.
Prudence Kitten's ABC, illus. Sheila Findlay. London, Publicity Products, 1957. [pop-up book]

Illustrated Books
Muffin the Mule by Annette Mills. London, University of London Press, 1949.
More About Muffin by Annette Mills. London, University of London Press, 1950.
Muffin and the Magic Hat by Annette Mills. London, University of London Press, 1951.
Here Comes Muffin by Annette Mills. London, University of London Press, 1952.
Jennifer and the Flower Fairies by Annette Mills. London, News of the World, 1952.
Muffin at the Seaside by Annette Mills. London, University of London Press, 1953.
Muffin's Splendid Adventure by Annette Mills. London, University of London Press, 1954.
Far Morning by Mary Hayley Bell. London, Heinemann, 1962.
In Rosember by Margaret Arnold. London, Heinemann, 1962.
Rescue a Recipe, ed. Joan Hartley. London, WRVS Magazine, 1975.


Notes
I've not noted every source as I was jotting down snippets from all over the place. However, some material was derived from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on Annette Mills by Anne Pimlott Baker, obituaries of Mills, Sir John Mills and Robert Sielle in The Times, entries on Gluck in Gay & Lesbian Biography and the Dictionary of Woman Artists, plus a review of Diane Souhami's biography, the Internet Movie Database and a lot of searching through birth, death and marriage records (not all of it successful). A final thanks to Adrienne Hasler who runs a fascinating site and collectors club about Muffin the Mule and has written a book about Muffin available here.

The photograph of Molly Blake is from the National Portrait Gallery collection and was taken by John Gay on 26 March 1947. A second photograph can be found here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sydney J. Bounds (1920-2006)

I'm very saddened by the news that Syd Bounds has died. Syd was one of the first authors I ever wrote to, way back in 1979 when I was writing a school project on science fiction magazines. We last met at the ABC comics fair in February. Syd had moved, in May, from his home in Kingston-upon-Thames to Telford, Shropshire, and was unable to get to either the September or October book fairs which he had so regularly attended for many years. He was recently hospitalised and died on Saturday, 25 November, having celebrated his 86th birthday a couple of weeks earlier.

Born on November 4, 1920, Sydney James Bounds sold his first story in 1943 and was one of the more prolific authors of the ‘mushroom jungle’ post-war era of cheap paperback publishing and beyond. Although he wrote over 40 novels, Syd’s metier was always the short story of which he wrote hundreds, many published anonymously in children’s papers and annuals. Anyone who has tried to make a living from selling fiction will know the difficulties of changing characters and plots every 2,000 words, yet Syd managed to make a living doing just that for many years. Although best known for his science fiction, his talent for turning a situation on its head in one chilling line made him one of the champions of small press horror magazines of the 1980s and 1990s. It was only in 2003 that any of his short stories were collected, in the two volume Best of Sydney J. Bounds, edited by Philip Harbottle, although his work has been translated into a number of languages, appearing in France, Norway, Sweden and Italy as well as America and Australia. Three stories have been adapted for radio and one story for American TV.

Like many writers, retirement age came and went and, in the 1990s, Syd was working for a correspondence school in writing and I can think of no-one better for advice when it comes to producing professionally acceptable stories.

In the spring of 2000, he began writing novels again when Phil Harbottle sold many of his old westerns to Robert Hale. Syd signed a five-book contract and, despite being adamant that the fifth would be his last one, he continued to produce new novels in his ‘Savage’ series, the seventh of which was published in December 2005.

Unmarried, Syd was around five foot six, slightly built with a shock of white hair. It was always a pleasure to meet up with him and he always has the same answer if you were to ask how he was doing: "Still upright," he would say with a grin. I shall miss his good humour.

(* I above books show the diversity of Syd's talents to write what the market demanded. The Big Steal is especially apt title for that crime novel -- John Spencers published it four times under four different bylines and Syd never saw an extra penny! The photograph was taken in October 2003 at the Park Plaza Hotel.)

Neville Main

A little aside from the regular series of Swift Annual artists.

Neville Main I know almost nothing about despite the fact that his career lasted at least 35 years. He began illustrating children's books for Brockhampton Press as early as 1944, creating the character Jimmy in 1948 for the first of a series of oblong -- approx 3 x 6 inches (6 1/2 x 15 cm) in size -- 62-pages comic strip booklets which told Jimmy's tales with two pictures per page.

While Main was to return to Jimmy a number of times over the years, he quickly became associated with a number of other characters, Matilda Mouse, based on the radio series narrated by Wilfred Pickles, and Muffin the Mule, based on the BBC children's star created by pupeteers Jan Bussell and Ann Hogarth in 1934, although the puppet was only named Muffin when he appeared in an edition of For The Children in 1946. Muffin, who has just celebrated his 60th birthday, trotted onto the screen to star alongside Annette Mills and was hugely popular in those pre-Watch With Mother days and was the first children's TV character to generate huge amounts of merchandise.

Muffin was the cover star of TV Comic when it was launched on 9 November 1951, drawn by Neville Main, and was to remain on the cover for 192 issues before being replaced by Sooty. Muffin, however, continued inside until issue 482 (11 March 1961). Main also illustrated a strip book (similar to the Muffin books) based on another Hogarth Puppets series, The Bookworms, in 1952.

In 1953, 'Jimmy and His Engines' began appearing in the rival children's paper Mickey Mouse Weekly but switched, in 1955, to join Muffin in TV Comic. A year later, Main was drawing 'Snoozy the Sea-Lion', based on another children's show produced by Associated-Rediffusion and broadcast on ITV in the mid-1950s as part of the 15-minute 'Small Time' slot (nowadays probably best known for early Gerry Anderson shows The Adventures of Twizzle and Torchy the Battery Boy).

In 1960, Main came to the fore in TV Comic once again as the artist on 'Four Feather Falls' (1960-62) and 'Fireball XL5' (1962-64), based on two early Gerry Anderson shows, and as the first artist on 'Dr Who' (1964-66). He was replaced on the latter strip by Bill Mevin but continued working for TV Comic draw 'Tivvy' and 'Basil Brush' in the latter half of the 1960s.

Apart from illustrating 'Larry the Lamb' for the spin-off weekly TV Land and TV Playland Annual, Main had been a stalwart of TV Comic for about two decades. In 1966, he began drawing his long-running 'Jimmy' strip for another spin-off paper, Pippin, also published by TV Publications.

Main's last known work was for Pippin in Playland (as the paper was renamed) in the late 1970s where he drew the 'Rubovia' series based on the BBC puppet series created by Gordon Murray. The strip, set in a mythical eastern European state, ran from 1976 t0 1979 (plus appearances in the Pippin Holiday Special).

What happened to Neville Main after that I have no idea. I believe he lived at 25 Prince of Wales Mansions, S.W.11 around 1956/59, and later at 11 Sion Road, Twickenham around 1966/80. Could he be the Neville Hubert J. Main, born 1913, who died in 1994, aged 80? Perhaps. A lot more work still needs to be done.

Books
Ali, the Runaway Donkey. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Jun 1948.
Jimmy and the Little Old Engine. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1948.
Jimmy at the Seaside. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Sep 1949.
Jimmy Goes to a Party. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Jul 1950.
Jimmy Goes Sailing. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1950.
Jimmy at the Fair. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Oct 1951.
Muffin and His Friends. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Jun 1952.
The Bookworms. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Nov 1952.
Jimmy at the Zoo. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Oct 1953.
Muffin on Holiday. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Oct 1953.
Jimmy and the Redskins. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Oct 1954.
Muffin Makes Magic. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Jul 1955.
Jimmy and the Spaceship. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, Oct 1956.
Jimmy and the Pirates. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1958.

Illustrations
The Moon and the China Cat, and other stories by Elizabeth Keane. Leicester, Brockhampton Book Co., 1944.
The Tale of the Lonesome Lamb, and other stories by Elizabeth Keane. Leicester, Brockhampton Book Co., 1944.
"Much and More," and four other stories by Elizabeth Keane. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1946.
Matilda Mouse by Dora Broome. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1949.
They're Open by Ronald Wilkinson & Roger Frisby. London, Harvill Press, 1950.
The Wonderful Sea-Horse, and other Persian tales by Mashhadi Galin Khanum; translated by L. P. Elwell-Sutton. London, Geoffrey Bles, 1950.
Matilda the Radio Mouse by Dora Broome. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1951.
Your Vegetable Garden by Violet Stevenson. London, Harvill Press, 1951.
The Blue Muffin Book by Ann Hogarth; illus. with Molly Blake. London, Hodder & Stoughton/University of London Press, 1951.
Meet Muffin the Mule by Ann Hogarth. London, University of London Press, 1954.
Merry Muffin Books (series) by Annette Mills & Ann Hogarth:
__Muffin's Birthday. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1954.
__Muffin and Louise. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1954.
__Muffin and Peregrine. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1954.
__Muffin Sings a Song. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1955.
__Muffin Climbs High. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1955?.
__Muffin's Thinking Cap. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1955?.
Once the Mullah by Alice Geer Kelsey. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1957.
Look at Puppets by Ann Hogarth. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1960.

(* I've grabbed pictures from a couple of useful sites -- this one has some background on TV Comic and this one has lots of information on Gordon Murray's 'Rubovia' series. The two scans from TV Comic are from issues 483 and 567 (18 March 1961 and 27 October 1962 respectively). The Jimmy scan came from a recent eBay sale.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ronald Searle (article from 1967)

The Guardian Unlimited website regularly carries a "from this week in history" feature and today's (25 November) is a brief piece on cartoonist Ronald Searle.

A change of tack from St Trinian's
Although it is 15 years since Ronald Searle last sketched the spindly ankle and leering eyeball of one of his pigtailed horrors from St Trinian's, a drastic effort to dissociate himself from them has never succeeded. "People are convinced that I am still producing them," Searle, who has settled in Paris, said. "It's baffling. Not too many people could really have seen them. I produced about one a month between 1946 and 1951, and then packed it in. The films helped to keep the image alive."

The interment of St Trinian's was the beginning of a break with his past. A few years later he broke completely with his life in England, he separated from his first wife, signed over all his royalties to provide for their two children and came to Paris to start, financially, from scratch.

Now married again, aged 47, he has built up a new career, contributing to the "New Yorker" and "Holiday" doing travel books and organising exhibitions of his work in Europe. An exhibition of his cat drawings has just opened at St Germain des Prés. They are not pretty, cute cats with glossy furs, but vilified, spiky-haired individuals with doubts about the universe. Cats with a wrinkle of anxiety in their smeared eyes; harassed cats, cats shrinking from some menace (such as having discovered the truth about their own libido).

To imbue cats with human feelings is a logical outcome of drawing on one's own experience. When the girls of St Trinian's gleefully hung a schoolmistress by the thumbs, Searle was drawing on stark images from a Japanese prison camp. (As a Japanese magazine put it, "He took part in various battles until he was captivated by the Japanese Army.")

When he came back to Britain in 1945 editors snapped up his drawings of nasty little girls first sketched to amuse his fellow prisoners. "I had brought an element of horror into the public cartoon," Searle said, "and the climate was right for it." Within a short time his girls were helping to bring in an income of £25,000 a year. He now lives right in the student centre of Paris. "I find Paris keeps me in a continual state of excitement," he said.

[The French cartoonist] Sine, he feels, has cancelled himself out. "His magazine Sine-Massacre was inviting trouble. "He simply butchered the police, Government, army, and clergy. He just put himself out of business. His latest book, for example, is 60 pages exclusively devoted to lavatories. "I suppose you can pull the chain on the public, but I don't think it gets you anywhere."

Peter Lennon

(* As we're now only a month away from Christmas Day, I thought the cover of Lilliput, December 1949, was an apt choice of illustration. Here in Colchester you can forget the "12 days of Christmas" -- some of the decorations are already coming down! Or falling down, as the case may be: the High Street has been cleared after some of the decorations came adrift and tumbled down into the traffic.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Jerry Bails (1933-2006)













I was very sorry to hear that Dr. Jerry Bails died of an apparent heart attack on 23 November, aged 73. Jerry was a comic researcher par excellence and the compiler of the Who's Who of American Comics, a bibliographical reference work of terrifying scope covering every person who had ever been involved in the American comic book industry.













The first edition, co-compiled with Hames Ware, appeared in 4 volumes in 1973-76 and I was pleased to get involved when Jerry was planning to update the whole thing to cover all titles up to 1992. It was an enormous project that Jerry planned to put out as a series of CDs. The growth of the internet made distribution easier -- everyone involved could download each volume as it was issued. With revisions, the 20 sets of data eventually covered every comic book released up to and including 1999 and has since been made available free on the internet here.

Colin Forbes (Raymond Henry Sawkins) 1923-2006

Thriller writer Colin Forbes (the pen-name of Raymond Henry Sawkins) died on 23 August 2006, although an obituary has only just appeared for him in The Times. Sawkins wrote a number of solid police procedurals under his own name in the late 1960s before switching to international thrillers and war stories a la Alistair MacLean. I was a big fan of his Tramp in Armour, Target Five and Year of the Golden Ape when they were paperbacked by Pan in the early 1970s. Forbes, like too many other writers, got sucked into the 'blockbuster' novel publishing of the 1980s when what could have been a good 250-pager was bloated into 400, 500 or even 700 pages. Most thrillers were not strong enough to sustain that kind of length and (I suspect like many), I drifted away to read other things. A shame, perhaps, as Forbes' spy novels featuring the character Tweed have been well reviewed over the years and my impatience with over-written novels has probably cost me a good read or two. C'est la vie.

(* The scan above, with a cover by Gino D'Achille, is a bit poor but I wanted to get this up before work.

(Later: I've subsequently discovered an obituary appeared in The Independent on 16 October which is unfortunately not to be found on their website.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Daphne Rowles

I have been unable to find out anything about Daphne B. Rowles, who was a regular artist in both Swift weekly and the Swift Annual. She is best known as the artist of 'Nicky Nobody', the story of a young, wandering orphan and his dog Chum, written by Bill Wellings. Looking through the annuals for a suitable illustration, I realised that she had not drawn the strip in the first two annuals, which made me wonder whether she was the sole artist on the weekly as she is usually credited. A quick look through the first volume of Swift reveals that at least two other artists started the strip. I'll have to check later volumes to see when Daphne Rowles took over.

Daphne Rowles would appear to have been the early artist for 'The Sign of the Scarlet Ladybird', the advertising strip for the Ladybird clothing line (see my notes on E. W. Pasold for more details). She also produced advertising artwork for Haworth & Company. Perhaps a coincidence but artists by the names of Stanley C[harles] Rowles and Lilian Rowles also did the same (the reference for this comes from here, the original written in Portuguese). A Google search for Stanley doesn't turn up much but Lilian would seem to have been a painter and illustrator who worked for The Illustrated London News amongst others in the 1930s. She worked on advertising campaigns for Nestle Milk and seems to have made a career of drawing very young children. There are plenty of prints and postcards of offer by Lilian.

[some digging around later...]

Stanley Charles Rowles, A.R.C.A., was educated at Putney School of Art and Battersea Polytechnic and would seem to specialise in marine art. He was married to Mrs. Lilian M. B. Rowles, educated at West Bromwich School of Art. Stanley was living at 56 Lillieshall Road, Battersea, S.W.4, in 1922, moving to 16 Shottfield Avenue, Putney, London S.W.14 around 1923 and then to 22 Hertford Avenue, S.W.14 around 1930. Stanley is still listed at that address at least until 1966. (There's a Stanley Charles Rowles born in Wandsworth in 1887 who might be 'our' Stanley. Son of Henry S. Rowles (a head teacher at a boarding school) and his wife Sarah A. Rowles.

[a bit more digging...]

Seems that Henry Samuel Rowles (b. 1861) married Sarah Agnes Forrest at Wandsworth in 1885.

Er... that's enough Rowles for one day. I've no idea whether Stanley and Lilian Rowles are in any way related to Daphne B. Rowles but it seems possible... [update: 6 May 2008] It would seem my guess was correct; I've been assured that Daphne was indeed the daughter of Stanley C. and Lilian Rowles. Further information to hopefully follow.


Non-fiction
The Everyday A.B.C.. London, 1953?

Illustrated Books
The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope; simplified by A. L. Walker. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1952.
Let's Find Out. A teacher's handbook of lessons on everyday things by Gladys Plummer & Dorothy Emily White. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 2 vols., 1953; as J'Observe et je Cherche, traduit et adapté pour le Congo Belge par J.F. Carrington et O.W. Sorgel. Londres, Longmans, Green et Cie, 3 vols., 1955.
Nicky Nobody and the Rocket Spies by Bill Wellings. London, Hulton Press, 1958.
Learn and Act by Margaret Baker. London, Longmans, 4 vols., 1962-68.
An Introduction to Learning English by J. M. Miller. London, Longmans, 1963.
Jamie on His Own by Elisabeth Batt. London, Lutterworth Press, 1963.
Know Your Pupils byb Wilfrid Patridge. London, Longmans, 1963.
English Grammar and Exercises by Leslie Chapman. London, Longmans, 1964- .
The Hidey-Hole by Enid Blyton. London, Lutterworth Press, 1964.
Three Secret Seeds by Joyce Reason. London, Lutterworth Press, 1964.
A Graded Secondary School English Course by Alan Etherton & Granville Thornley. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 5 vols., 1964-65. [some vols. illus. by James Moss]
The Fire-Escape by Joyce Reason. London, Lutterworth Press (Junior Gateway 6), 1965.
Here Comes Thursday! by Michael Bond. London, George Harrap & Co., 1966.
Wild Cat Ginger's Family by Campbell K. Finlay. London, George Harrap & Co., 1966.
Bears Back in Business by Margaret Baker. London, George G. Harrap & Co., 1967.
The Scarlet Runners by Elisabeth Batt. London, Lutterworth Press (Junior Gateway 8), 1967.

(* The 'Nicky Nobody' strip is from Swift Annual 3 (1956) and is © IPC Media.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

T. S. La Fontaine

Thomas Sheridan La Fontaine was a painter and illustrator, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur E. La Fontaine of St. Albans.

It would seem that T. S. La Fontaine was educated at Tonbridge School and had his artwork exhibited whilst still at school as part of the Public Schools Art Exhibition at the Imperial Art Gallery, Imperial Institute, London, in 1936. La Fontaine appeares to have been something of a sportsman and these were the days when matches between public schools was often covered by newspapers, especially the fortnight at Lords dedicated each year to Public Schools. La Fontaine, for instance, captained the cricket team against Clifton Lords in July 1934, opening the batting and also proving a useful bowler. He was also a member of the rugby and football teams and was a middleweight boxer for the school in 1933-36. He then began playing rugby for Harpenden in 1937-39.

La Fontaine was married to Margaret Sylvia Patrickson Storey at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, on 22 November 1947. At the time, the couple lived at 26 Glebe Place, S.W.3 where they remained until at least 1959. Miss Storey was the daughter of H. L. Storey, of Burton Hill, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, and it would appear that the couple later moved to Malmesbury (in 1974 at least when their younger daughter Jenny S. A. La Fontaine was engaged). Margaret La Fontain died in 2000, aged 79.

La Fontaine contributed to Swift Annual 1 (1954) and went on to illustrate a number of stories for Girl, including various text stories (1955-60) and the comic strip 'Claudia of the Circus' (1957-59). He also later contributed to Look and Learn (1962).


Illustrated Books
The Winged Horse, and other stories by J. D. Bevington & M. S. Bevington. London, Ginn & Co. (Beacon Library), 1952.

(* Illustrations are from the opening episode of 'Claudia of the Circus' from Girl, 10 April 1957, © IPC Media, and the lower illustration is from Look and Learn 26, 14 July 1962, a scene from Black Beauty, © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

H. M. Talintyre


An interview with Dave Gibbons has just appeared on the Comic World News website in which he discusses his early family life and his introduction to comics. Interesting reading in itself but I was pleasantly struck with something he mentioned about his father. Dave's grandfather was a customs officer and used to move around the country. To quote Dave:
During my dad's formative years, when he was nine or ten, they were posted to Dundee, where they used to live in the big Customs House, which had lodgers. One of them was an artist who used to draw for D. C. Thomson. He was a guy called H. M. Talintyre, and he drew their nursery comics... he drew the adventures of Oojah, a circus elephant! My dad was clearly very impressed with this guy, who was something of a bohemian type and quite unlike a customs officer. he actually gave my dad one of his paintboxes, which I still have.
Why this particular passage jumped out was that, a couple of months ago, I tried to dig out information on Talintyre without any great success. When Look and Learn magazine picked up the rights to Jack and Jill last year, one of the strips was a licensed strip entitled 'The Wonderful Adventures of Jerry, Don and Snooker' which ran for 203 episodes between 27 February 1954 and 11 January 1958. The character of Jerry the elephant continued in the form of 'Jerry's Jolly Jingles' for another seven months before the strip finally came to an end.

Jerry, Don and Snooker were all characters from a newspaper strip that dated back to the early 1920s when the Daily Sketch launched a 4-page children's supplement called The Oojah Paper. Oojah had originally appeared in a single-panel cartoon as early as 18 February 1919, but expanded to a full page on Saturday, 8 October 1921. 'Uncle Oojah, Don and Snooker' were the front page stars of the Saturday supplement which, the following week, became The Oojah Sketch and was to run until 23 November 1929, although the original pull-out section became 3 pages from 29 April 1922 and 2 pages from 22 July 1922.

Uncle Oojah was an elephant. More precisely he was the king of Oojahland who shared his adventures with a small boy named Don and a black cat named Snooker. As the strip developed, many other characters were introduced to Oojahland, including Fatherwangle, the Mayor, and his two sons, Jerrywangle and Jimmywangle. It was Jerry who was to survive to become the main star of the Jack and Jill strip, although both Don and Snooker accompany him and many other original characters, like Lord Lion, the head of the Armed Forces, Pa Piggins, the Prime Minister, and Furdiston Foozle, an inventor of marvellous, if unpredictable, devices.

Oojah, who was occasionally also known as Flip-Flap in the early days, survived the demise of the children's supplement in the Daily Sketch. As early as 1922, Oojah was the star of Oojah House by Flo Lancaster and soon had his own annual. A piano suite entitled Oojah-Land was composed by Montague Ewing in 1922 and a number of light orchestral pieces such as Uncle Oojah's Frolic and Uncle Oojah's Party were popular in the early 1930s. Oojah was also the name of a pigmy elephant who, in 1925, had his crooked front legs splinted to get them back into shape, and the name of a number of racing horses.

(An 'oojah', incidentally, is slang for a whatsit, a thingumabob or an oojahmaflip... something you've forgotten the name of. Uncle Oojah was meant to be a forgetful elephant. Later expansions on the word included 'oojah-cum-spiff', a phrase meaning all right or well ordered which was used thus by P. G. Wodehouse. I've got a feeling that it was also a dance step in the late teens, early twenties.)

The original artist of the Oojah tales was Thomas Maybank, actually a pen-name for painter and illustrator Hector Thomas Maybank Webb, born in Beckenham, Kent, on 28 February 1869 [often given as 29 February, but see comments below], the son of William (a glass and china dealer) and Annie Webb, who began his career as a surveyor's clerk but turned to illustration in magazines like Pick-Me-Up and Punch around the turn of the century. Maybank died on 27 March 1929.

Maybank was the artist for the first five Oojah annuals. With Uncle Oojah's Big Annual for 1927, a new artist was introduced in the shape of H. M. Talintyre, who would draw the annual for Collins throughout the 1930s (a new artist took over in 1940 and the last, in 1942, reprinted material drawn by Thomas Maybank many years earlier). A number of books published in the 1940s kept Uncle Oojah's name alive but a brief run of a new annual in the late 1940s, once again drawn by Talintyre, was to be the end of the characters.

At least for a few years. In the early 1950s, Basil Reynolds was involved in the creation of Jack and Jill, a new colourful nursery paper to be published by the Amalgamated Press. He was approached by an elderly gentleman who introduced himself as H. M. Talintyre and who wondered whether Oojah could not be revived again. Reynolds, who had been fond of Oojah as a child, supported the idea and new stories by the original author, Flo Lancaster, were commissioned and Talintyre went on to draw the new series for another four years.

Despite a career that lasted at least thirty years, almost nothing is known about Talintyre. I believe he was Henry Matthew Talintyre, born in Gateshead in 1893, who died in 1962, aged 69. To take us back to the beginning of these notes, Dave Gibbons offers enough clues in his interview for me to state that his father met Talintyre around 1922/23 in Dundee, at which time he would have been in his late twenties. He began working on the Uncle Oojah stories at around the age of 33, at which time the annuals were still published by the Daily Sketch. In 1930, Talintyre was living at Brierdene, Sedgecombe Avenue, Kenton, Harrow where, I believe, he remained until his death. (Talintyre is a relatively uncommon surname, derived from "of Tallentire", a township in the parish of Bridekirk, Cumbria.)


A final word about the author of these stories. Flo Lancaster was a pseudonym; the British Library list her works under the heading of "Ellen Wallis, later Lancaster" but I'm pretty sure this is not correct as I think it refers to Ellen Wallis (1856-1940) who was an actress and stage manager. 'Flo Lancaster' would appear to have been the working name of Mrs. F. Edwardes-Jones. She was, apparently, a prolific author of stories for girls' and women's magazines who began writing before the Great War and she was writing Oojah stories for Jack and Jill in the 1950s when actress Ellen Wallis had been dead for some years.

Oojah Books (by Flo Lancaster)
Oojah House. The story of Flip-Flap's little mansion, illus. Thomas Maybank. London & Manchester, E. Hutton & Co., 1922.
Oojah's Treasure Trunk, crammed with pictures, stories and games. London, Daily Sketch and Sunday Herald, 1926.
Uncle Oojah's Travels (series):
__The Princess of Persia, illus. Thomas Maybank. London & New York, F. Warne & Co., 1938.
__Uncle Oojah's Ostrich Farm, illus. Thomas Maybank. London & New York, F. Warne & Co., 1938.
Uncle Oojah, illus. H. M. Talintyre. Glasgow, Collins (Silver Torch ser. 47), 1944.
The Uncle Oojah Books. London, Haverstock Publishers, 4pts, 1946.
Uncle Oojah's A.B.C., illus. H. M. Talintyre. London, Haverstock Publishers, 1946.

(* Some of the above history of Oojah is derived from an article by Will Costain from Golden Fun 13, 1983. Illustrations are from Jack and Jill, 6 July 1957 and 5 January 1957.)

Comic Clippings - 21 November

Beano Annual sales for week ending 11 November helped it reach #2 in The Bookseller charts, knocking The End by Lemony Snicket down into 3rd position. But Doctor Who: The Official Annual is still clinging on to the number one spot. I've found some Neilsen Bookscan figures for the past couple of weeks which show that both Doctor Who and Beano Book sales are increasing: w/e 4 November: Doctor Who sold 17,950; Beano Book sold 10,555. w/e 11 November: Doctor Who sold 26,633; Beano Book sold 15,820.

Cumulative sales (and this doesn't include Amazon or other online services, I believe) amount to 129,723 for Doctor Who and 79,375 for Beano Book. Those figures will jump tremendously over the next couple of weeks as we're now in the serious Christmas buying season.


(* I spent a delightful half hour talking to Frances Finn at BBC Nottingham yesterday and I've another interview on Thursday morning with BBC Hereford and Worcester, probably fairly brief from past experience of morning shows, although there should be a chance to win a subscription to the magazine. We're also doing subscription competitions with BBC Kent and BBC Wales over the next couple of weeks, so keep your ears tuned if your in Kent or Wales. Or move to Kent or Wales.

(If that's not an option, you can get a sub. through the Look and Learn website. Works out at under a quid a copy if you take postage and packing into consideration. Well worth the price for a chance to wallow in nostalgia and re-read 'The Fall and Rise of the Trigan Empire'!)

Mileson Horton

Mileson Horton, born 1899. Amazingly, that's all I can find about him apart from the fact that he wrote for early television and seems to have specialised in crime stories. Quite what he would have been contributing to Swift Annual 1 (1954) I don't know.

Horton, at the time working as an insurance clerk, was the originator of Photocrime a series of fumetti-style murder mystery stories told in photographs and captions originally published in Weekly Illustrated in 1935. These proved so popular that a summer break caused a torrent of reader complaints. The series was syndicated in America by the Des Moines Register & Tribune and a book appeared in 1936, co-written by Thomas Pemberton, the pen-name of Sir Henry Thomas Hopkinson, one-time editor of Picture Post.

Horton is also notable as the main author of the first multi-episodic show specifically written for British television. The show was called Telecrime, the first series of which began broadcasting live from Alexandra Palace on 10 August 1938. Each show ran for five ten- or twenty-minute episodes but the series was cut short when the BBC stopped broadcasting television during the Second World War. Telecrime—or Telecrimes as it became—returned in 1946 for a 12-episode run. Horton followed it with another series of 15-minute adventures with a similar premise entitled Be Your Own Detective, broadcast as part of the Kaleidoscope TV magazine in 1947.

Apart from a handful of radio plays and a book in the late 1940s, I find no further trace of him bar that one contribution to Swift Annual in 1954 when he was in his mid-fifties.

'Mileson' is such an odd Christian name, I'm wondering whether it was a pen-name or perhaps a middle name, which could explain why there is no trace of him in birth records or on the 1901 census.

Collections
Photocrimes, with Thomas Pembroke. London, A. Barker, 1936; New York, Hillman-Curl, 1937.
Be Your Own Detective. 15 Mysteries for you to solve, photographs by James Maycock. London, Fenmore Publications, Jul 1948.

Teleplays
Telecrime (series):
__The Back-Stage Murder, with H. T. Hopkinson (from 10 Aug 1938)
__The Fletcher Case (from 24 Feb 1939)
__The Almost Perfect Murder (from 15 Apr 1939)
__Circumstantial Evidence (from 25 Jul 1939)
Telecrimes (12 eps., 22 Oct-25 Nov 1946)
Be Your Own Detective (Kaleidoscope; 1947)

Radio Plays
Inspector Cobb Remembers (series):
__5: The Case of the Twin Sisters (General Forces Programme, 29 Jan 1945)
Professor Burnside Investigates (series):
__1: The Case of the Fifteen Coppers (General Forces Programme, 11 Jun 1945)
__2: The Case of the Traveller's Wife (General Forces Programme, 19, Jun 1945)
__3: The Case of the Stolen Payroll (General Forces Programme, 28, Jun 1945)
__4: The Case of the Final Dividend (General Forces Programme, 2 Jul 1945)
__5: The Case of the Murdered Mariner (General Forces Programme, 10 Jul 1945)
__6: The Case of the Lonely Spinster (General Forces Programme, 17 Jul 1945)
Appointment with Fear (series):
__Death Takes a Honeymoon, with W. L. Catchpole (Light Programme, 14 May 1946)
__Escape to Death (Light Programme, 25 Dec 1946)
Dead Men (Home Service, 2 Apr 1947).
The Servant Died at Midnight (Home Service, 7 May 1947)
The Man With the Twisted Neck (Light Programme, 16 Mar 1948)

Short Stories
Death Takes a Honeymoon (Appointment With Fear, ed. Ronald Flatteau, Fenmore Publications, 1948)

UPDATE: 25 September 2009
Thanks to the discovery by Leonardo De Sá of a feature on the Photocrime phenomenon in Life magazine (see comments), I've managed to—perhaps—discover the real identity of Mileson Horton. Life refers to the author of the series as Denis Horton and a quick search of birth records reveals a Dennis (sic) James F. Horton born in Lambeth in the first quarter of 1899, the year in which Mileson Horton is supposed to have been born.

Tracking him further is a little more problematical. There was a Dennis Jas. Horton who served with the Essex Regiment in the Great War who might be him.

As Denis J. F. Horton, he married Edith M. Mileson in Surrey in 1951, whom I believe is possibly Edith Minnie Mileson, born in Essex in 1900. Now, he was using the name Mileson Horton many years earlier... so what their earlier connection was I've no idea. A long-time family friend? A collaborator? Who knows.

Horton died in Worthing in 1964.

I've updated the checklist of his work to include a few more radio plays I've discovered since the original piece.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Roma (Rosemary Brown)

The artist Roma signed pages in a variety of annuals in the early 1960s and has been something of a mystery to me. But this evening I have a theory. Let me run it by you.

Roma was the pen-name for artist Rosemary Brown. My thinking goes like this. Roma signed pages in Robin Annual 6, 7 and 1962 (9). Now, like Swift Annual, Robin Annual also had a list of contributors in each volume and the only two names that contribute specifically to those editions are Dorothy Heather and Rosemary Brown. I can't see how you would derive Roma from Dorothy Heather but Roma... Rosemary... see?

Roma had quite a nice, flexible style that seems to have been put to use on a number of different strips as you'll see from the little gallery below. Roma contributed to Robin Annual, Girl Annual and the Nutty Noddle Annual (a spin-off from Robin) in around 1958-62. In 1963, Roma begins drawing a strip for Teddy Bear about 'Nurse Susan and Doctor David'. Now, Teddy Bear ran until 1973 and, in 1974, R0semary Brown began drawing 'The Dolly Girls' for Bonnie which continued in Playhour (the two papers merged in 1975) until 1987 with occasional breaks.

The style of 'The Dolly Girls' is quite different to the earlier illustrations but, as I said, 'Roma' had quite a flexible style. One last thing to note, namely that Rosemary Brown illustrated a number of books (as listed below) and, although she was very prolific for ten years, I can't find anything after 1957. If my theory is correct, she then became 'Roma', working for a variety of Hulton and Fleetway annuals and weeklies. I'm quite expecting to have my theory shot down but, at this precise moment, it's the best theory I have.

Robin Annual 7 (1959)

Robin Annual 1962 (1961)

Nutty Noddle Annual 1963 (1962)

Nutty Noddle Annual 1963 (1962)

Teddy Bear's Toybox 1966 (1965)

Playhour, 3 July 1976

Update (23 November)
I've just spotted a note I made that 'Roma' worked for the weekly Robin, producing back cover pictures in the early 1960s, via an agency, Sheldon Studio. Also, produced the following page (and probably others) for Once Upon a Time in 1969.

Once Upon a Time, 8 November 1969.

Illustrated Books

Eating and Drinking. A miscellany compiled by Madge Hart. London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1947.
Joyful Steps to Reading by Irene Downie. London, Macmillan & Co., 6pts, 1948.
The New Elf by Winifred Wilson. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1948.
The Secret of Dewberry Farm by Margaret & Peter Meiklejohn. London, Kerr-Cros Publishing Co., 1948.
The Secret of the Castle by R. A. E. Walker. London, Blandford Press, 1948.
The Seaside by
Up the River and Over the Lea by John Corden Uncles. London, Evans Press, 1949.
New Method English for the Arab World by Michael Philip West. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1951.
The Magic Slippers, and other stories by Betty Lumsden Milne. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1951.
Teacher's Handbook by Michael Philip West. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1951.
Grade I Reader by Michael Philip West. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1952.
The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells, edited and abridged by Latif Doss. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1954.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, shortened and simplified by G. C. Thornley. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1954.
Magic Charms at the Market by Margaret Kent. Dunstable, privately published, 1956.
Seven Little Plays by J. G. & M. Endicott, simplified by Michael West. London, Longman, 1957.

George Bowe

Another Swift Annual artist whom I know nothing about. He contributed to only one edition, Swift Annual 1962 (1961), uncredited, and also to Robin Annual 6 (1958). Bowe also illustrated material in Boy's Own Paper and a feature in Girl Annual 8 (1959) and then, seemingly, nothing until 1974 when he was drawing 'At the End of the Rainbow' in Bonnie. He illustrated some books as early as 1948 so that gives him a career span of at least 26 years.

Illustrations
Let's Have a Story by Enid Blyton. London, H. A. & W. Pitkin, 1948.
We Want a Story by Enid Blyton. London, H. A. & W. Pitkin, 1948.
The Bard's Cloak by Percy G. Griggs. London, H. A. & W. Pitkin, 1950.
Tiger Hawk by George E. Rochester. London, H. A. & W. Pitkin, 1956.
Ten-Week Stables by Sylvia Scott White. London, Lutterworth Press, 1960.

Noel B. Ranns and Stella Ranns

Stella Ranns was credited with a contribution to Swift Annual 1 (1954) while Noel B. Ranns contributed to Swift Annual 2 (1955). Stella Jean Ranns (b. 26 May 1919) died in October 2003, aged 84, but I'm pleased to say that her husband Noel is still with us and has replied to a letter I sent a few days ago, although he tells me he moved house two weeks ago, so I was lucky to have the letter forwarded.

Noel was a book publisher's Production Manager by trade and worked for Hulton Press in the mid-1950s in their book department. As such he was partly responsible for the Swift Annual and tells me that neither he nor his wife were regular writers. "I cannot remember what our contributions were about... I can only imagine that my wife and I were filling an empty page!"

He was not connected with the Periodical Division which was responsible for the weekly magazines, although his sons, both born in the 1940s , were raised on Swift, Robin and Eagle.

He later worked as a printer salesman for Taylor, Garnett, Evans and was production manager for Anthony Blond Ltd.

Update: 6 January 2010
I've received a note from Peter Morris, whose parents lodged with Noel Ranns in the 1950s, to say he has learned that Noel Ranns died on 17 July 2009, aged around 91.

All I can add to the above is that he was born in 1917 in Durham (his birth registered in the Sunderland district) and he was married twice: to Stella Jean Dockeray at Hyde, Cheshire, in 1942 and then (following her death) to Nina Margaret Wilson-Turner in November 2003 in North Walsham, Norfolk. She died in November 2005, aged 85.

He lived at 4 Vancouver Road, Forest Hill, S.E.23 between at least 1948-61; then 7 The Glebe, Chislehurst [1963/66]; then Burwood Farm, Rotherfield [1970/71]. When I contacted Ranns in 2006, he had just moved into sheltered accommodation.