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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dudley Pout

Edward Dudley Pout was born at Frog Island Farm, Herne, Kent, on 24 November 1908, the 2,000 acre farming estate being owned jointly by Pout’s father and his four brothers. The Pout family moved to various farms, and at the age of 8, young Dudley attended the village school at Swalecliffe where his headmistress recognised his drawing ability and arranged for an interview with the principal of Margate School of Art. He was awarded a full-time Art Scholarship, and at the age of 13 became their youngest ever student. At 15 he left Art School to join the family farming business, and worked enthusiastically for some years before his desire to become a commercial artist could be sated. A new cinema opened in Dover in 1930, and Pout became fascinated by the poster artwork that was used to advertise current and forthcoming features. Tracking down the suppliers, he applied for a job and was taken on by East Kent Poster Services of Dover at the wage of 32/6 a week.

Two years later, aged 26, Pout became Manager of the Stoll Art Studios in Chatham, producing billboards, posters, handbills and press advertisments for the Stoll Empire Theatre. He married Vida Standing in 1932, the daughter of a farming neighbour. His work came to the attention of London publicity magagers who tempted him to Wardour Street where he worked until 1938, providing original posters for the major British film studios. Uncertainty in the film industry led him to take on wider advertising work via a Fleet Street agency; during the War he served in the Metropolitan Police Reserve, which allowed him to continue supplying artwork for film studios until his house was damaged by a 'doodle bug' and the Pouts moved to Orpington, Kent.

After the War, Pout continued to work as a freelance commercial artist, and in the 1950s he found work with the Hulton Press, illustrating stories and features for Eagle and Girl, including 'The Adventure Club' by J. Jeferson Farjeon (1952-53) and 'What's His Name?' (1953) in Eagle and illustrations for the 'Yvette' series by Sylvia Little (1952) and 'Travel Girl' by Molly Black (1952-53) in Girl.

From 1952, he concentrated on drawing strips for Girl, where his work included 'Tess and the Mystery Journey' (1953), 'Pat of Paradise Island' (1953-54), the 'Vicky' series (1954-58) and 'Angela Air Hostess' (1958-61).After these two very successful strips, Pout continued to draw for Girl for another two years ('Sally of the Seven Seas', 1961; 'Prince of the Pampas', 1961; various biographical strips, 1961-62) but, mindful of the decline in sales and concern for his wife's poor health, was forced to leave comic strips behind.

Pout moved back to Kent and resumed farming, specialising in cross-breeding cattle. He retired in 1973 to a small house in Biddenden, Kent, where he painted in oils for pleasure, although he also produced a series of 'Farming in Bygone Days' paintings for a postcard company. Pout lived at Gribble Bridge Lane Farm, Biddenden, Ashford, Kent, where he died on December 12, 1991, aged 83.

Pout wrote a slim book of autobiographical reminiscences entitled The Life and Art of One Man of Kent (1982). The book includes a wide array of Pout's illustrations -- from early cartoons and oil paintings to his film posters, illustrations (for The Leader, The Householder, Britannia and Eve, etc.) and photographs.

He also briefly recalled his days on the Hulton comics thus:

We artists attended the Boys and Girls Exhibition at Olympia, signing autograph books and explaining how the art work for their papers was prepared. Because of the quality of the publication I found that the parents were just as interested and many were also reading the stories.

Books
The Life and Art of One Man of Kent. Rainham, Kent, Meresborough Books, 1982.

Illustrated Books
The Hollys of Tooting Steps by Heather Prime. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1953.

(* The photograph at the top is taken from Pout's book The Life and Art of One Man of Kent and dates from around 1934 -- the advert Pout is working on is for the George Arliss movie The Last Gentleman. 'Angela Air Hostess', this example taken from Carlton's The Best of Girl, is © IPC Media)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

J G Raw

The original entry here read "Another Swift Annual contributor about whom I know nothing." Now, thanks to the artist's daughter, we have a great deal more information. I'd like to thank Janet for her help.

Joseph Graham Raw was born on 7 January 1913, he and his five siblings growing up in poor circumstances in Leeds.

Joseph was always something of a dreamer in his youth and discovered a natural talent for drawing at an early age (his father was also something of an artist but only ever painted for pleasure). He earned himself a scholarship to Leeds Art School and, on leaving the school, was employed by Rowntrees of York as an apprentice in their advertising department.

Moving to London in the late 1930s, he married in 1939 and lived in Morden, Surrey, until his wife's death in 1979, subsequently moving in with his daughter in Worcester Park.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Joseph Raw produced a great deal of commercial artwork, both freelance and through agencies, including a number of book covers, cartoon strips (including 'Gloria Monday' in Reveille and 'Terry & Tessa' in Junior Mirror), seasonal artwork for department store catalogues and film posters. The latter included Bridge On the River Kwai (1957), Mother India (1957), The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) and Pirates of Blood River (1962) and at least one Disney film.

According to his daughter, "Dad intensely disliked having to 'work' as a paid artist, having no business or financial acumen, and fervently believed he was being exploited for his talent for fine graphic art. He never encouraged me in any aspect of commercial art, stating that it was a 'rat race' and how he wished he didn't have to paint for a living. Dad was happiest when painting seascapes and scenes of the Yorkshire Dales for his own intrinsic satisfaction.

"He was often privately commissioned to paint portraits/pastoral scenes for friends and family; if my husband and I did not stop him he would have painted these works for a basic nominal fee and sometimes he would not charge at all. I do believe he was acutely embarrassed by his talent and felt guilty about charging a fee for his work.

"Dad was a keen amateur photographer and developed his own prints which he often used as reference material; he loved the changing colours/moods of the sea and was able to accurately capture the turn of a wave as it crashed ashore or the ethereal reflection of moonlight on a blue/black sea.

"In the 70s/80s, he continued to draw and paint, sometimes for himself, sometimes for others. After my mother died, Dad became depressed and remained so until his own death in 1985.

"Dad seemed to detest his talent in so many ways and regarded it as a hindrance. He once said that all he ever wanted to do was to live alone in a cottage on a remote cliff in Cornwall and paint the sea."

Joseph Raw died in 1985, aged 72.

Illustrated Books
Bible Treasure. Written especially for children by Lilian Ryder. Manchester, World Distributors, 1953.

Update -- More Film Posters

Monday, January 29, 2007

Will Nickless

For those of you still following these ramblings, I'm still working my way through the more obscure artists who contributed to Swift Annual.

Today's artist is William Nickless. Born in Essex in 4 April 1902, Nickless left school at 14 and was working for an agency by the age of 18. He joined the staff of Motor magazine in 1920, producing technical drawings and, later, general figure work. He left to become a freelance artist, illustrating books and occasionally writing them himself. He started his own publishing imprint, Virgin Press, producing limited editions of his own poetry and a series of anti-war etchings which were reproduced in New Leader in 1939.

In the 1940s Nickless illustrated the 'Worzel Gummidge' books of Barbara Euphan Todd and he continued to produce illustrations, mostly for children's books, until his death. Nickless also contributed illustrations to Eagle Annual as well as Swift Annual. You can usually spot his illustrations by his ornate, swirly 'N' that he signed his work with (you can see it in the lower left corner of the illustration above).

Nickless lived in London until 1958 when he moved to Rotherfield, Sussex. His hobbies included making models and musical instruments. He died in early 1977.

Update -- 2 February 2007

Richard Sheaf has kindly dropped me a line with further details following his comment (see comments) about an article in Eagle Times. There was indeed a piece by William Rudling (now editor of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos) in vol. 7 no. 3 (Autumn 1994) in which he mentions contacting a former neighbour of Will Nickless named Betty Thomson, who recalls "He was a large man with a pipe clenched in his teeth and a warm friendly aura." When he was not working from his drawing board, which was mounted on a Victorian mahogany table, he was curing tobacco leaves coated with honey for added aroma; or making a model of a Great Western Railway engine of the Victorian period.

Rudling writes, "His studio overlooked the Sussex countryside and from this vantage point he pursued his interest in astonomy, using a reflecting telescope he had constructed."

According to Rudling, Nickless had an ambition to be an artist even as a youngster growing up in Oak Village near Hamstead. He had to bow to his father's wishes and joined an engineering factory in Acton but kept up his drawing and eventually becoming an artist working at Gameges, the department store, where he drew illustrations for their mail order catalogue.

He then joined Temple Press, working on their magazines The Motor, Aeroplane, Motor Cycling and Commercial Motor. Here he met Nellie Carter, whom he married in 1926; their son, also named Will, was born in 1928.

Nickless went freelance in 1940, working for various magazines, including the Radio Times, and advertising agencies. He also developed an interest in music during the war years, taking up the violin which led him to making several himself.

His 'Owlglass' series of books,
featuring anthropamorphised animals and published in 1964-68, was inspired by his living at Heathfield House, a Victorian house hidden within the Wealden forest.

Some of the information in Rudling's article was derived from correspondence with Nickless' son.

Books
A Guide to the Tower. A poem. London, Virgin Press, 1947.
The Little Fly and other verses. London, Virgin Press, 1957.
Reginald and Spindlesticks; or, Who Killed Cock Robin?, newly translated from the original by W.N. Rotherfield, Nellie & Will Nickless, 1961.
Owlglass, illus. by the author. London, John Baker, 1964.
The Nitehood, illus. by the author. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, Sep 1966.
Molepie, illus. by the author. London, Baker, 1967.
Dotted Lines, illus. by the author. London, J. Baker, 1968.

Illustrated Books
The Dwarf Who Was Much Too Clever by Geoffrey Lang. London, Herbert Jenkins, 1945.
The King Who Was Cold by Geoffrey Lang. London, Herbert Jenkins, 1945.
Worzel Gummidge Again by Barbara Euphan Todd. London, Hollis & Carter, 1946.
The Mouse and the Cuckoo in the Clock byh William Glynne Jones. London, Charles Skilton, 1947.
Worzel Gummidge and Saucy Nancy by Barbara Euphan Todd. London, Hollis & Carter, 1947.
The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen. West Drayton, Penguin Books, 1948; Boston, Houghton Miflin Co., 1948.
Bullen of the "Brigadier" by Peter Wickloe. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1949.
Missing, Believed Lost by Percy F. Westerman. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1949.
Worzel Gummidge Takes a Holiday by Barbara Euphan Todd. London, Hollis & Carter, 1949.
David Cameron's Adventures by George Clarke. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1950.
The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. London, University of London Press, 1951.
Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hardy; introduction by Lord Elton. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1953.
Adventures at Hampton Court by Violet Needham. London, Lutterworth Press, 1954.
The Adventures of Pinocchio, and Pip, or, the Litte Rose-Coloured Monkey by Carlo Lorenzini; with an introduction by David Davis. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1954.
Dead Man's Cave by Conon Fraser. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
Lost in the Outback by Phyllis Mary Power. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
The Story of the Golden Fleece [adapted from The Heroes by Charles Kingsley] by M. W. Jennings. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1954.
Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard; with an introduction by Roger Lancelyn Green. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1955.
The Aztec Temple by Andrew Wood. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1955.
Ghost Canyon by John Kennett. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1955.
The Green Dragon by Conon Fraser. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1955.
King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1955.
Lion's Gold by Geoffrey Field. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1955.
The Mystery Skater of St. Michael's by Ena Grayson. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1955.
Valley o' Bones by James Shaw. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1955.
Emma by Jane Austen, simplifield by Michael West & E. P. Hart. London, Longman, 1956.
The Princess and Curdie by George Macdonald. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1956.
The Princess and the Goblin by George Macdonald. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1956.
Shadow of Danger by Conon Fraser. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1956.
Ayesha by H. Rider Haggard. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1957.
Nada the Lily by H. Rider Haggard; with an introduction by Edward Boyd. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1957.
She by H. Rider Haggard. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1957.
The Sign of the Glove by Hoole Jackson. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1957.
The Underground Explorers by Conon Fraser. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1957.
The Waters of Chance by Howard Apps. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1957.
Across Canada by Joyce Boyle. London, Longmans, 1958.
The Master Key by Jessie Maclehose. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1958.
The Return of Robinson Crusoe by Henry Treece. London, Hulton Press, 1958.
Dundi Shah -- Beloved Princess by Anne Westwood. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1959.
The Flower of the Forest by Cecily M. Rutley. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1959.
Mystery on Majorca by Joan Mary Bate. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1959.
Nursing in the Outback by Phyllis Mary Power. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1959.
Ponies for Sale by Alan Jenkins. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1959.
The Ranch Riders by Cecily M. Rutley. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1959.
The Underground River by Conon Fraser. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1959.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri; translated by M. Rosenbaum; with an introduction by Noel Streatfield. London, William Collins & Sons & Co., 1960.
Jungle Picnic by Anne Westwood. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1960.
Lim of Hong Kong by Conon Fraser. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1960.
Troubled Waters by Maurice Wiggin. London, Hutchinson, 1960.
A Christmas Carol; and, The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens, simplified by Michael West. London, Longman, 1961.
The Dagger and the Rose by Aubrey Feist. London, Heinemann, 1961.
Tales of King Arthur by Mary Cathcart Borer. London, Longmans, 1961.
Aesop's Fables, and fables by others. London, Ward Lock & Co., 1962.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens; abridged by Latif Doss. London, Longmans, 1962.
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss; simplified by Michael West. London, Longmans, 1962.
Comprehension Cards by John Buchan. London, University of London Press, 1963.
The Story of the Church by Gordon Albion. London, Burns & Oates, 1963.
My Life on Wheels by Maurice Wiggin. London, John Baker, 1963.
Stories of Famous Sea Fights by Frank Knight. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1963.
Stories of Famous Ships by Frank Knight. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1963.
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. London, (Favourite Book), 1964.
The House Through the Trees by Marie Joseph. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1964.
Stories of Famous Explorers by Sea by Frank Knight. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1964.
The Baxter Family by Jenny Taylor. London & Glasgow, Blackie, 1965.
Classic Thrillers. A teenage book of famous stories, ed. Eric Duthie; illus. with Barrie Linklater. London, Odhams Press, 1965.
Stories of Famous Explorers by Land by Frank Knight. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1965.
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson; simplified by Michael West. London, Longmans, 1966.
A Boys' Treasury of Sea Stories. London & New York, Hamlyn, 1966.
Stories of Famous Sea Adventures by Frank Knight. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1966.
Stories of Famous Sea Explorers by Frank Knight. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1966.
The Donkey Walk by James Richards. London, Icon Books, 1967.
Happy Venture by Fred J. Schonell & Irene Sarjeant. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1967.
Girls' Adventure Stories of Long Ago. Feltham, Hamlyn, 1968.
The Battle of Britain, August-September 1940 by Edward Fox. London, Lutterworth Press, 1969.
The Field of Waterloo, June 18, 1815 by Aubrey Feist. London, Lutterworth Press, 1969.
Fishes of the World by Allan Cooper; illus. with George Thompson. Feltham, Hamlyn, 1969.
Rivers and River Life. London, Macdonald Educational, 1971.
David Livingstone by Neil Grant. London, F. Watts (Discover Books), 1974.

(* The illustrations are from Swift Annual 1962 and 1963 and are © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)

Fishing With Mr Crabtree

Slightly off the beaten track and inspired by John's mention of the strip here.

Mr. Crabtree was a comic strip all about fishing that ran in the Daily Mirror for years. Originally, Crabtree hosted a gardening strip but, during the winter when things went quiet in the garden, Venables persuaded the editors to let him send Mr. Crabtree fishing. This was in the 1940s and the strip ran for many years.

A brief biography of Venables appears at Bookseller World:

Bernard Venables was born on 14th February 1907 in Kent England and few people in recent history can have done more to encourage people to go angling, along with Richard Walker and BB he has hugely influential in the post war boom in fishing. After leaving school he worked for several newspapers, it when he produced his first cartoon strip for the Daily Mirror that he really made his mark. It was so popular that it soon extended to a column as well and eventually books. In 1963 he was one of the people behind the magazine Creel which brought new levels of quality and production to the market. His works are still enjoyed and collected today.

Bernard Percival Venables, who was awarded an MBE in 1995, died on 21 April 2001, aged 94. An obituary which expands greatly on the information above can be found here (Daily Telegraph, 24 April 2001).

Cover by Glenn Steward
Books by Bernard Venables
Tanks, Their Place in Modern Warfare. London, Country Life, 1942.
Fish and Fishing. Harmondsworht, Penguin (Puffin Picture Book no. 53), 1948.
A Fisherman's Testament, illus. by the author. London, Adam & Charles Black, 1949.
Mr. Crabtree Goes Fishing. London, Daily Mirror, 1949; as Mr. Crabtree Goes Fishing. A guide to fishing round the year, London, Unwin Paperbacks, 1990; as Mirror Features Presents... Mr. Crabtree Goes Fishing (50th Anniversary edition), London, Map Marketing, 2000.
Fishing, illus. by the author. London, Batsford, 1953.
Guide to Angling Waters, illus. by the author. London, Daily Mirror Newspapers, 1954.
The Gentle Art of Angling, illus. by the author. London, Max Reinhardt, 1955.
The Angler's Companion, illus. by the author. London, Allen & Unwin, 1958.
Fishing for Pike with Mr. Cherry and Jim, illus. by the author. Peterborough, Angling Times, 1961.
Fishing for Roach with Mr. Cherry and Jim, illus. by the author. Peterborough, Angling Times, 1961.
Fishing for Perch with Mr. Cherry and Jim, illus. by the author. London, Angling Times, 1962.
Fishing for Trout with Mr. Cherry and Jim, illus. by the author. London, Angling Times, 1962.
Fishing with Mr. Crabtree in All Waters. London, Daily Mirror, 1964.
Freshwater Fishing, illus. by the author. London, Jenkins, 1967.
Baleia! The whalers of the Azores. London, Bodley Head, 1968.
Mr. Crabtree's Book of Fishing for Boys. London, Daily Mirror, 1968.
Mr. Crabtree's Guide to Good Fishing Tackle. London, Daily Mirror, 1969.
Coming Down the Zambezi. London, Constable, 1974.
The Piccolo Fishing Book, illus. by the author. London, Piccolo, 1981.
The Illustrated Memoirs of a Fisherman. Ludlow, Merlin Unwin, 1993.
A Rise to the Fly. London, Robert Hale, 2000.

Others
The Angling Times Book, ed. with Howard Marshall. London, James Barrie, 1955.
A Fly Fishers Life [Pris sur le vif] by Charles Ritz; translated by Humphrey Hare; foreword by Ernest Hemingway; with an introduction by Bernard Venables. London, Max Reinhardt, 1959.
Fishes in Colour: Marine and Freshwater by Gwynne Vevers [translated from the original Danish Fisk i farver by Hans Hvass]; notes on angling methods by Bernard Venables; illus. Henning Anthon. London, H. F. & G. Witherby, 1963.

Illustrated Books
The Hunting of Zakaroff by W. B. Macmillan. London, Peter Lunn, 1946.
The Phantom by John Sylvester. London, Peter Lunn, 1946.
Silver. The life story of an Atlantic Salmon by Roderick L. Haig-Brown. London, A. & C. Black, 1946.
Fishing for a Year by Jack Hargreaves. London, Macgibbon & Kee, 1951.
For Poachers ONly, and the Giles stories by Jack Chance; illus. with Alex Jardine. London, Adam & Charles Black, 1955.
Fishing by George Clifford. London, Oxford University Press, 1968.
Farming Year by John Cherrington. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1983.

Comic Clippings - 29 January

A nice write-up of people's memories of comics, including Look and Learn, can be found in Charlotte Percival's 'Beano There, Done That' in the York Press (27 January).

Talking of The Beano, I didn't have a chance to mention the sales figures of the Beano Annual last week. The book sold 5,217 copies w/e 13 Jan (#36); unfortunately, the Sunday Times online bestsellers listing has been the same two weeks running. A rough (but hopefully educated) guess puts total sales of this year's annual at around 210,000 copies and still selling.
  • The Eagle Awards are now open for voting: you can post your nominations online via the website. Nominations close on 28 February.
  • Alex Fitch conducts regular radio interviews with comic creators for Resonance FM which he then makes available via his I'm Ready for My Podcast blog. The latest two podcasts are part 2 of 'Paul Gravett's Guide to Comics' (18 January) and the first part of 'The Magic of Alan Moore' (25 January).

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lunt Roberts


The oddly named Lunt Roberts has proved a little bit of a mystery. He was active between 1913-64 according to some sources, illustrating magazines, children's books and annuals. According to David Cuppleditch's London Sketch Club, Roberts first attended the London Sketch Club with John Hassall in 1913, became a member in 1921 and was made president in 1936.

His work appeared in Punch, The Humourist and The Daily Mail Annual amongst many other publications. He served during the Great War with the Welsh Fusiliers. During World War Two he supplied illustrations to the Ministry of Information.

A sketch book belonging to Roberts was sold at Christies in the mid-1950s with various drawings turning up on e-Bay at times, including the blowing up of the French battleship 'Liberte' in Toulon harbour (on the reverse was a watercolour sketch of Lake Maggiore).

He will probably be most associated with Richmal Crompton's character Jimmy and the 'Jilly' series by Malcolm Saville.

There's an odd note in Dictionary of British Book Illustrators that says "He lived in South London and every year drew a portrait of the new Captain of the Coombe Wood Golf Club," and therein lies the clue to why nobody seems to have been able to dig up much information on Lunt Roberts. One of the members of the club in the 1930s was one R. J. Lunt-Roberts. Hopefully our artist. And a Rob J. Roberts is listed in the London phone book as a "creative commercial artist" of 3 Hillside Road, Streatham S.W.2 in 1927 and as "artist" at the same address in 1930. R. J. Lunt Roberts is listed in the phone book for 1932 at 22 Kemplay Road, Hampstead N.W.3 in 1932 (with no sign of Rob J. Roberts but no occupation given either).

All of this makes me suspect that Lunt Roberts' full name was Robert J. Lunt Roberts (possibly hyphenated). Unfortunately, I can't find anyone in the available birth records with those three initials and a search of the 1901 census turns up over 1,200 people named Robert Roberts and none usefully listed as Robert J. L.

I've searched the death records between 1963-69 and there are many Robert J's but no Robert J L's so I've hit a bit of a brick wall.

Update: 24 February 2010
Rob. J. Roberts turns out to be a red herring.

I finally found Lunt Roberts' death registered in 4Q 1981 in Kingston Upon Thames. He was Richard John Lunt-Roberts, born in Secunderabad, India, on 28 August 1894, the son of Richard Roberts and his wife Gertrude (possibly nee Lunt). His father was Welsh, his mother Australian, and he was the first of at least three children. In 1901, the family were living in Aber, Caernarvonshire. He served during the Great War with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He lived at some point (early 1920s?) at 30 Kemplay Road, Hampstead, N.W.3.

Lunt Roberts was married to Hilda Lunt-Roberts (nee Plant), who was born 18 December 1895 and died in Kingston Upon Thames in November 1987, aged 91. They married in Lewisham in 1924.

In the 1950s he was an art teached at Lutterworth Grammar School and exhibited with a group of Midlands (mostly Leicester) artists. At the time he was living in the Leicester/Lutterworth area.

Illustrated Books
Dugout Doggerels from Palestine by John N. More. London, Heath Cranton, 1922.
Wonderful London To-day by James A. Jones. London, John Long, 1934.
London's Eight Millions by James Jones. London, John Long, 1937.
A Book of Swimming by Janet Lowke. West Drayton, Puffin Picture Books, 1945
Caravan for Three by Ursula Bloom. London, University of London, 1947.
Kalee and other stories by F. G. Turnbull. London, Sampson, Low & Marston & Co., 1947.
Let's Find Hidden Treasure by Trevor Henley. Bath, Venturebooks, 1947.
The Riddle of the Painted Box by Malcolm Saville. London, Noel Carrington, 1947.
Redshank's Warning by Malcolm Saville. London, Lutterworth Press, 1948.
Two Fair Plaits by Malcolm Saville. London, Lutterworth Press, 1948.
Teddy Tail's Book of Children's Songs, musical arrangements by T. J. Hewitt. c.1949.
Jimmy by Richmal Crompton. London, George Newnes, 1949.
The Flying Fish Adventure by Malcolm Saville. London, John Murray, 1950.
Stubby Sees It Through by Angus Macvicar. London, Burke, 1950.
Archie Andrews Calling by Archie Andrews. London, Macmillan & Co., 1951.
Jimmy Again by Richmal Crompton. London, George Newnes, 1951.
The Secret of the Hidden Pool by Malcolm Saville. London, John Murray, 1953.
Pete, Pam and Jim, the Investigators by Kathleen Fidler. London, Lutterworth Press, 1954.
Rustlers in the New Forest by Judith M. Berrisford. London, Macmillan & Co., 1954.
Adventure on the Alm by Nancy Martin. London, Macmillan & Co., 1955.
On Guard Spot by Enid Blyton. London, News of the World, 1955.
Final Performance by Reginald Masters. London, Macmillan & Co., 1956.
Fun and Adventure by Thomas Wright & Mary Wilson. London, Macmillan & Co., 1956.
My Own Storybook by Enid Blyton. London, News of the World, 1956.
Young Johnnie Bimbo by Malcolm Saville. London, John Murray, 1956.
The Fourth Key by Malcolm Saville. London, John Murray, 1957.
Just William's Painting Book. London, Publicity Products, 1957.
Mystery of Maori Land by John Hornby. London, Macmillan & Co., 1958.
With Fuchs and Hillary Across Antarctica by Gerald Bowman. London, Frederick Muller, 1961.
Two Stories. The Sire de Maletroit's Door. A loging for the Night by Robert Louis Stevenson, adapted by Linton Stone. London, Macmillan & Co., 1964.
With Lewis and Clark Through the Rockies by Gerald Bowman. London, Frederick Muller, 1965.

(* The illustration is from Swift Annual 1962 (1961) and is © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.; my thanks to Don Grant for sending in the invation to a London Sketch Club 'Smoker', drawn by Roberts in 1931; and my thanks to Jeremy Dugdale for the photograph, which shows Roberts at Lutterworth Grammar School in 1953.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

In the Post

In 2005, Carlton put out a collection of Commando entitled The Dirty Dozen which sold incredibly well to all the Dads who had fond memories of reading war libraries when they were growing up. I certainly remember reading them in the 1960s when I was at primary school, picking one up at the local newsagents on the way in and having it tucked in my pocket until morning break. And when you'd finished it, you swapped it for another one because that way you could save what was left of your pocket money for something else; by swapping you could read all four of that month's titles -- or eight, or ten... however many it was at the time.

Alternative cover for The Dirty Dozen collection from 2005.
Commando is still going strong, which is a testament to the persistence of D. C. Thomson and the skills of its editor, George Low. Back in 1960 when Commando first appeared, I imagine most of the writers had been in the services in one form or another, even if it was just National Service and they had never actually seen combat. But stories abounded -- every family had a story to tell of some incident that their relatives had gone through; and by the late 1950s there was enough distance from the war for biographies and books about the war to be flooding the newsstands and the cinema.

Moving forward 4,000 issues (which Commando will reach in a few months time), Low is now working with a new generation -- maybe even a third generation -- of authors whose experience of conflict is probably watching afternoon war movies on Channel 4 or BBC2 (yes, that's what freelance writers get up to). A good writer can still persuade you that he knows the difference between a bren gun and a sten gun but there's a certain authenticity that can be lost: small details picked up through experience, the way soldiers in battle talk to each other and the like. Commando comics aren't historical documents by any stretch of the imagination but readers who read enough of them get to know when something feels wrong.

So George Low varies the contents; only last week Commando released a story about a space shuttle landing in the middle of a contemporary war. Other stories have been set in the Crimean War and in the Falklands; and even when the stories are set in the heart of the Second World War, they deliver across the range of services (Jose Jorge's air war stories are still my favourite) and in every theatre. You've got to admire Low, who has been with the title for over forty years but still has a knack for finding variations on the theme of battle.

That's pretty much what you get with True Brit (ISBN 978-184442-121-3), the latest Carlton Books' collection from Commando: a round dozen tales with settings as diverse as Italy and India and issues ranging from across three decades. Four of them are drawn by Gordon Livingstone who was knocking out stories for Commando for almost forty years before retiring a few years back. It's a little disappointing not to see any of Jorge's artwork and only one by Denis McLoughlin but these are nit-picks at an otherwise fine collection.

What might surprise a few folks is that Carlton have put out a third Commando collection already, Anzacs at War (ISBN 978-1-84442-059-9). From the title you might guess that this is for the Australian market only and I've yet to find a mention of it on the www so perhaps it isn't out yet. There's no listing on Amazon.co.uk as yet so maybe it won't be appearing over here. UPDATE: Thanks to George (see comments) I now know that the book is due out on 27 March and some details can be found here.

It's identical in format to True Brit and contains another 12 stories that appeared between 1973 and 2004, with one story from 1989 reprinted as recently as 2005. Five stories are by Argentinian artist Olivera, another two by Gordon Livingstone and one by another name I tend to associate only with Commando, Cecil Rigby. The best of the stories art-wise are probably the earliest by Olivera (from 1989) and a single contribution from one of the Jose de la Fuente (brother of the more famous Victor). It's a good, solid collection, including one yarn set in World War I and another in the Malayan jungles in 1966 which backs up my claim that Commando still has the ability to pull the odd surprise even after all these years.

A change of pace now... the latest issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos (vol.3 no.3, dated November 2006) has turned up a couple of months late due to the editor having a hard drive failure. I've been a regular contributor to this since the first issue but for once I can review it without that conflict of interest because I stepped aside to allow someone else to write this issue's article on SF in comic strips.

As a huge fan of Syd Jordan's work I'm pleased to see two complete Jeff Hawke stories this issue, one from 1962 written by Willie Patterson and one from 1972-73 written (and introduced) by Jordan. As usual, Duncan Lunan provides an incredibly in-depth commentary to the two strips and Syd himself briefly remembers Ferdinando Tacconi (who drew the Jeff Hawke strip in Junior Express in 1954-55) and discusses his association with Colin Andrew (with an interview promised for next issue). Wrapping up this issue is an article on Captain Condor by Andrew Darlington.

Subscriptions for the magazine are £16.50 (£26 overseas) for three issues from The Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD.

(* I've been slacking on the blog front recently because of various other commitments: you should start to see some of the results on the Look and Learn website shortly as I've been sorting out more images for the picture gallery. The last few weekends have been devoted to work for the Don Lawrence Fanclub with the new Storm collection finished, the next Trigan Empire book almost done and, this weekend, the Worlds of Don Lawrence newsletter to sort out. I'm also trying to proof the war libraries index ready for publication in February or March. So if I'm slow off the mark to respond to e-mail or blog comments you'll know why.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ian Dickson

The Swift Annual, and others published by Hulton, often ran three- or four-frame strips as fillers. One of the most prolific contributor of these was Ian Dickson who also contributed to Eagle Annual and Girl Annual.

Ian Oscar Dickson was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 15 January 1905. He grew up in Melbourne and was self-tought as an artist. Dickson was something of a world traveller, seeking out work as a cartoonist and illustrator wherever he was. His work appeared in the Adelaide Register News Pictorial, the Brisbane Telegraph and tourist brochures for the Queensland government.

Emigrating to England, he produced illustrations for film companies and work for Razzle before moving to Ceylon, working for the Times of Ceylon and Ceylon Observer. Back in Britain, his work appeared in Punch, London Opinion, Men Only and Blighty. For 15 years he drew 'Mum' each week for the Sunday Graphic. He was also well known for his drawings of glamour girls.

During the War he served with the R.A.F.

He died on 21 July 1987.

(* Illustrations are from Swift Annual 6 (1959) and are © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd. Most of the biographical information above is derived from Dictionary of British Cartoonists and Caricaturists 1730-1980 compiled by Mark Bryant and Simon Heneage.)

Jon Peaty

I haven't been able to find out anything regarding Peaty other than his contribution to Swift Annual 6 (1959). His work was signed. Useful, but it isn't a style I recognise from elsewhere.

Update: 17 June 2008
I've just noticed that the Helensburgh Heritage Trust website posted the following story on 4 May 2008:

Gregor Ian Smith -- The 75-minute portrait
by Donald Fullarton

A MUCH admired feature of the exhibition held by Helensburgh Heritage Trust in April 2007 to mark the centenary of the birth of burgh artist Gregor Ian Smith was an excellent portrait of him by Jon Peaty.

The property of Helensburgh and District Art Club, it was lent to exhibition organisers Helensburgh Heritage Trust for display and also for use as a publicity image.

At the very successful month-long exhibition in Helensburgh Library, a number of visitors asked about the portrait and Mr Peaty, but little seemed to be known about him. There the matter rested — until January 2008.

The artist’s son, David Peaty, who lives in Shoreham-by-sea, West Sussex, was searching the web for information about his late father when he found the image on the website of the 2007 Lomond and Clyde Springfest which coincided with the exhibition.

He emailed Springfest organiser Anne Urquhart and asked about the source of the image. She passed on the message to the Heritage Trust, and they asked Mr Peaty for more details about his father — and the Art Club if they knew any more.

Both inquiries produced fascinating information. David Peaty was first to respond with detail about Jon Peaty, who was born on March 7 1914 and died on January 26 1991.

He says: “Jon lived the last 20 years of his life in North Yorkshire, on the edge of the Wolds following early family life in Wales, London and Sussex. From the 1960s onwards he lived by painting landscapes and portraits and teaching.

“What a characterful image of Gregor Ian it is too. JP was often at his best when painting fast, and with a degree of 'free sketching' — which I detect here. It is very likely that this painting was the result of a 'demonstration' given to the art club either by specific invite or, more likely, when Jon was in the area teaching . . . probably in the early 1970's.

“I only have knowledge of his being a tutor on painting weeks in Kirkcudbright. I know that is not your area, but perhaps Gregor Ian went on these events — or indeed other teaching weeks in parts of England and Wales — as a participant and was invited to sit as a model?

“It was not uncommon for the sitter to be handed the painting at the end of the process. Maybe the connection was a longer standing friendship? Of course this is all speculation.

“I have a considerable amount of Peaty archive material and more turns up on a regular basis. Unfortunately I have not yet put together a coherent biography but hope to do so in due course.”

Meanwhile, the secretary of the Art Club, Anita McLaren — herself a very talented artist whose work is much in demand locally — was busy finding out the background to the club’s ownership of the portrait.

“It was done in 1980 at the Clyde Community Centre in Helensburgh,” she said. “A previous president of the club and his son, Brian Weston, had been on painting courses run by Jon Peaty in Sandsend, near Whitby, and in Kircudbright. They arranged for him to come up to Helensburgh and take a week\s course of painting — which was oversubscribed!

“He painted Gregor Ian Smith as a demo in 75 minutes, and the club then bought it as Gregor Ian had just been voted honorary president of the club. It is kept in the Library and looked after by the Anderson Trust, which has a collection of paintings of local interest.”

For those who knew Gregor Ian, it is incredible to think that such a splendid likeness was created in so short a time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Leslie Otway

Leslie Otway was educated at Camberwell School of Art and was active before the Second World War as an illustrator, working for Strand Studio, 88 Farringdon Street, London E.C.4 who also represented Jack Greenall and others. His work dates back to at least as early as 1924 when he was regularly producing illustrations for The Detective Magazine. He later drew for a number of annuals (e.g. Every Girl's Story Book, Uncle Mac's Children's Hour Story Book) published by Collins.

Otway became a prolific contributor to girls' romance comics in the early 1950s. He was an early contributor to Love Story Library (1952-58) and many other pocket libraries, including Schoolgirls Picture Library (1958-61), Confessions All Picture Library (1960), School Friend Picture Library (1962-63) and Princess Picture Library (1965-66). He also produced illustrations for School Friend (1959-60) at which time he was represented by the London Art Agency. As well as strips and illustrations, Otway was also a regular cover artist for some of these titles.

Otway also drew comic strips for the weeklies, including 'Girl of the Timberlost' and others for Princess (1962-63, 1966), 'Alona--The Wild One' for Princess Tina (1967-70) and various strips for June (1962-72).

I believe Otway lived in Stoneleigh, not far from Epsom in Surrey. He was at that address from at least 1942 until 1974, at which point I lose track of him. It is possible that he died around this time, after a career that spanned some 50 years.


Illustrated Book
Coppornob: Second Mate by Lawrence R. Bourne; illus. Miguel Mackinlay & Leslie Otway. London, Oxford University Press / Humphrey Milford, 1929.
Three's a Crowd by Michael Drin. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1950.
Full Steam Ahead! by Eric Leyland. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1951.

Friday, January 19, 2007

In the Post

This will be rather briefer than I intended as we had a bit of a weather-related surprise: a tree fell down in our next door neighbours garden and broke through our fence. There wasn't a huge amount of damage, although it landed with enough force to break the ground around the roots of one of the apple trees in our garden. Hopefully not enough damage to force us to have the tree removed but we shall have to wait and see.

A couple of books and magazines have arrived in the post recently.

First off the bat -- and rather late as it actually arrived a while ago -- is the Winter 2006 issue of Eagle Times. This has the usual mixture of features and stories (the latter, adapting old radio scripts starring PC 49 have been a regular for some time now). The 'Frank Hampson's Locations' series continues with photographs of buildings relating to the Frank Hampson saga which, it must be said, is interesting to a hardcore fan like myself but would probably mystify anyone coming to the magazine for the first time; there's a photo of a Dan Dare Space Cup; articles on pop music during the days of Eagle and a Home Service wireless science programme, 'The World of Movement' broadcast in 1950; tributes to Peter Ling and Nando Tacconi; part 2 of a series on Dick Barton, this episode concentrating on the Dick Barton, Special Agent book published in 1950 plus extracts from the notebook of Pat Hetherington who enjoyed the show so much she kept shorthand notes of all the plots; Roger Perry offers a typically forthright piece on Marcus Morris; there's some examples of Frank Hampson's work in Meccano Magazine; Geoffrey Bond discusses Sanders of the River; and David Gould looks back at the 20th Eagle Society Weekend in Salisbury. Something for all tastes as long as your tastes are firmly esconsed in the 1950s. Over the years, the editorial team have attempted to move away from the Dan Dare-centric magazine of the past and cover a broader range of topics, albeit with a glancing connection with the old Eagle. For this they've taken the occasional knock from folks who want "All-Eagle, all the time" but I find most of the extracarricular material interesting as it helps put Eagle into the context of the era -- very useful for someone who was only old enough to read comics when Eagle was on its last legs.

Eagle Times is available by subscription (£22 UK, £26 overseas surface, £29 overseas airmail) from Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex RA1 2UA.

Dime Novel Round-Up (no. 702, December 2006) contains a lengthy bibliographical piece on the Australian magazine Once-a-Week (1881-94) written by Toni Johnson-Woods, who is an academic with a taste for popular fiction, ranging from the story paper/dime novel days to the Aussie hard-boiled novels of the 1950s/60s. She's the author of a splendid Pulp: A Collector's Book of Australian Pulp Fiction Covers (2004) and Blame Canada! South Park and Contemporary Culture (2006) and lists "flirting behaviour" as one of the subjects she's interested in studying. What more can you say? Except, maybe, stop reviewing the author and start reviewing the essay. It's good, solid coal-face research into an area I know nothing about which is always interesting and the list of serials (nearly all reprinted from American magazines of the era) is comprehensive.

Dime Novel Round-Up is available by subscription ($20 a year) from J. Randolph Cox, PO Box 226, Dundas, MN 55019, USA.

The latests issue of Book and Magazine Collector (no. 278, February 2007) has interesting articles on Posy Simmonds and Ernest Aris, the latter especially interesting as it reminds me how much Aris influenced the artists who drew anthropomorphic animal tales for the nursery comics of the 1950s. Beatrix Potter was also an influence, no doubt, but her illustrations were rather wishy-washy watercolours; Aris, by comparison, produced far more robust characters. You can certainly see his influence in the work of Philip Mendoza, who was the artist most called upon to produce the kind of illustrations Aris also produced. Some day I'll try to get some scans of the work of both artists for comparison.

Last but not least, a copy of Mother Tells You How just arrived. This is another collection from the pages of Girl (as was the recent The Best of Girl) but this time dedicated to a single strip which ran in the magazine between 1952-60. This is an essential buy if you've yet to master the art of washing up or making your bed; for some, it will just go to show what a condescending paper Girl could be. Girl was not even of its time in many respects; the majority of young girls growing up in post-war Britain were not like Judy, the heroine of the strip who hangs on mother's every word as she prepares her for a thoroughly middle-class life. There's lots of crocheting, patching up, needlework, cleaning and tidying on offer; other strips are indeed practical and useful -- treating cuts and burns, various cooking tips -- but the majority would have been alien to the majority of readers... I wonder how many would have a burning desire to make raffia hats or plant pot covers?

With the benefit of hindsight, the book will keep readers in fits of giggles and it's a great book to dip into during moments of boredom -- like when you're waiting for Blogger to upload pictures. I've been enjoying it immensely.

The book is published by Prion Books on 5 February.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Comic Clippings - 18 January

A few things found...
  • For my 'where are they now' file: it's good to see some old pals from my days as editor of Comic World are still working hard: Paul H. Birch interviews Bob Burden at Comic Book News (18 January), Paul Duncan has had a number of books out, mostly film books he's edited for Taschen but also The World, The Flesh and The Devil: Fantastical Writings Volume 1 by Gerald Kersh from Ash Tree Press (January 2007), Alan Woollcombe is still writing obituaries for The Independent (the latest on Iwao Takamoto (11 January)) and Paul Gravett (who contributed to the very first issue of CW) is plotting his next book. Good to see everyone so gainfully employed!

Hermione Grainger

Digging around looking for a copy of Knowledge to use as an illustration for the entry below -- and the lack of one will tell you how successful I was -- I came across a copy of another children's educational magazine, How and Why, published by City Magazines.

Two things of interest. One was that How and Why reprinted material from the How and Why Wonder Book series originally published by Grosset & Dunlap in America in the early 1960s which, presumably, is where its title came from. I remember them being incredibly popular when I was a kid. These were intermixed with short articles which appear to be originals.

But what caught my eye was the name of the author of the first of these short articles entitled 'The Wall that Contained an Empire', about Hadrian's Wall. It's Hermione Grainger. Being a bit of a latecomer to Harry Potter (I've just finished reading Prisoner of Azkaban) the name kind of leapt off the page.

How and Why is undated, but was published in around 1963/64, running for 13 issues before the high price (2/-) killed it. Since J. K. Rowling wasn't born until 1965, she obviously didn't see the magazine first time round (unless she's got one of those little sparkly hour-glass pendants) but maybe she saw copies later and the name stuck in the back of her mind. More likely it's just a coincidence.


(* Yes, I appreciate that the Harry Potter character is Hermione Granger, not Grainger, but it's a curious coincidence none the less. A very quick dig around doesn't turn up anything else under the byline Hermione Grainger. If anyone out there spots anything by her, send me an owl.)

William Armstrong (1938-2006)

Obituaries are appearing for William O'Malley Armstrong, publisher with Sidgwick & Jackson and, in 1994, Macmillan, where he was general manager over the Pan imprint, who died on 22 December 2006.

Armstrong's first job in publishing was with Purnell & Sons where he worked on the children's educational magazine, Knowledge (1961-65), based on an Italian educational magazine published by Fratelli Fabbri Editori which was also one of the inspirations for Look and Learn. This was followed by New Knowledge in 1965-66, which Armstrong devised.

Obituaries in The Independent (17 January), The Times (18 January).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Great British Comics

Collectors of British comics have been fortunate over the past couple of years one way or another. There have been some excellent collections of strips, a variety of 'Best of' books and even a handful of non-fiction titles exploring various subjects, some good, some not so good. However, this is the one I've been looking forward most to seeing.

The forebear of Great British Comics by Paul Gravett & Peter Stanbury is Dennis Gifford's The International Book of Comics (1984); rather than attempt a chronological history, Paul and Peter have tackled the subject by showing how a variety of genres have been handled over the years, ranging from class and family to science fiction and superheroes. Dennis's book was fine up to a point: the number of cover reproductions was substantial but if you wanted to know what was going on inside the comic, you had to look elsewhere... and for many years there really wasn't anywhere else to look. Dennis's deepest interest was in the comics of the first half of the 20th century and he had little time for many of the titles that came after the 1950s.

This is what distinguishes Great British Comics: it opens the covers and lets readers see the full range of comic strips that have appeared in Britain over the years and juxtaposes the old and the new so that, for example, the cover of a Tiger Tim's Annual appears on the same spread as a detail from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Giles shares a page with the Fat Slags'.

The book celebrates the diversity of British comics without frowning or fawning over them and reveals that every decade has produced substantial and superb strips. They may not all be to everyone's liking -- 'Dan Dare' fans may have no time for Viz -- but common sense tells you that they reflect a changing world. In Dennis's books the world was cozy, safe and unchanging where, in Great British Comics, Paul and Peter cry vive la difference and offer ample proof that comics nowadays are more varied in their subject matter and style of presentation than they have ever been.

This isn't a knock against Dennis's book, which is an excellent starting point when it comes to the history of comics (and its scope, reflected in the title, is international), but for British comics, Great British Comics is going to be hard to beat for its breadth of coverage. The writing is accessible, the captions are detailed and the pictures wisely chosen to illustrate the points raised in the text. What better way to introduce (or re-introduce) yourself to comics?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Comic Clippings - 15 January

Very few posts these last few days mostly down to workload (although there was a party in there, somewhere, over the weekend). At least my cold has cleared up.

The Top 50 bestsellers chart for week-ending 6 January continues to feature Beano Annual (#26, 6,629) and Bratz Annual (#28, 6,005). All annuals now seem to be in the shops at prices as low as 99p, so if you haven't picked up the ones you want, now's the time to do it. Even the coveted Doctor Who Annual can be found at the same knockdown price.

A very quick roundup of things spotted on the web (quite a few links culled from the Forbidden Planet Blog):
  • A podcast interview with Paul Gravett -- 'Paul Gravett's Guide to Comics' Part 1 -- on I'm Ready for my Podcast, originally broadcast in London on 104.4 FM on 11 January 2007. Plus a review (by Roger Sabin) of Great British Comics from The Guardian (14 January).
  • A two-page 'Origin of Zatanna' strip with artwork by Brian Bolland (page 1, page 2).
  • News of a new Tank Girl strip in the works from Alan Martin and Ashley Wood can be found at Ashley Wood's blog.

Edgar Harry Large

I've received a query about the above artist, sent as a comment under the Frank Newnham heading for the obvious reason that I don't list a direct mailing address -- not because I dislike correspondence but because I dislike spam.

"I am trying to find information on my wife's grandfather Edgar Harry Large who was a part time illustrator in the thirties. He certainly contributed regularly to Sparkle comic and others in the Harmsworth stable. We have a number of scrapbooks of clippings of his work but know little else of this aspect of his life. Any information would be interesting. Simon Collier"

I have to confess that Edgar Harry Large is a new name to me. I don't have his name listed anywhere but, having said that, my information on titles from the 1930s is very limited. I think you may mean Sparkler, which was published by the Amalgamated Press in 1934-39, part of a group of comics controlled by editor Dick Chance.

I have found that there was an Edgar Harry Large born in 1902, his birth registered at Worcester. Sadly, too late for the 1901 census to be of any use. I did a quick check of London phone books and there's an E. H. Large living at 65 Kingsfield Road, Oxhey, in 1949. I couldn't find any Edgar or Edgar H. or Edgar Harry listed. However, as he seems to be living outside London during the 1930s, when he was working for London publishers, the Oxhey address may be a red herring. [Oxhey, incidentally, is near Watford, Hertfordshire.]

Updated - 22 January

Simon has sent me some additional information and some scans of cartoons by his grandfather-in-law. It seems I was correct with my guess regarding his birth and that the Oxhey was a red herring. (Sorry if that sounds smug.)

Edgar Harry Large was born in 1902 and died in 1983. He lived his whole life in Worcester, hoping to become a full-time artist, although parental pressure forced him in other directions. Instead, he became a microbiologist, eventually running the county laboratory service. He continued to draw, however, and sold many illustrations and cartoons professionally in his spare time.

Although there is no complete record of his work, many examples were kept in scrapbooks. Very little information was given, but it seems he was a regular supplier of story headings to Sparkler in the 1930s and also contributed cartoons to the NALGO union paper as well as a number of local publications.

"His son (my father in law) remembers him complaining of the lack of time when comics would post a story to him and expect the illustrations back the same week," says Simon. "The style is typical of its period but some of the originals we have clearly show he had considerable talent."

The illustrations I've added here include some examples from Sparkler which, as it was published on pink paper, don't scan too well.

The example above is dated 23 December 1933.

The cartoon below was, apparently, based on a comment made by Edgar's daughter in 1941.

The following cartoon comes from the NALGO paper but date unknown.

The last image is probably also from Sparkler and I've saved this until last for my mate John Adcock. I wonder if this version of Spring-Heeled Jack has ever been recorded?

Frank Newnham

Contributed to Swift Annual 3 (1956).

Frank Rudolphe C. Newnham was born in Ryde on the Isle of Wight in 1891, the son of James Young Newnham (a postman) and his wife Emma (nee Carter).

He lived at 27 Park Drive, Laburnam, London N21 [1938-39], 10 Cotswald Way, Enfield [fl. 1956-57] and later at 33 Shrubbery Gardens, Laburnam, London N21 [fl. 1965-67].

Illustrated Books
Nursery Rhymes. London, J. K. Whitehead, 1950.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bill Mevin

Bill Mevin has been working in comics for over fifty years and, prior to that, was involved in animation.

William H. Mevin studied at Liverpool Scool of Art. In the late 1940s, Mevin joined Gaumont British, the studio set up by David Hand, as a trainee film animator. G-B Animation closed its doors in 1949 but Bill went on to work on Batchelor and Halas's full-length Animal Farm (1954).

When that studio closed, Mevin joined the Sunday Chronicle as a topical cartoonist, working for them until the paper was taken over. He then turned to comics and contributed to Eagle, Express Weekly ('Wee Sporty') and, for many years, TV Comic, drawing 'Lenny the Lion', 'Supercar', 'Space Patrol', 'Dr Who', 'World Cup Willie', 'Bugs Bunny', 'Droopy', 'Popeye' and many others. He also contributed to Pippin ('The Pogles', 'Bill and Ben', 'The Herbs', 'Morph') and Whizzer & Chips ('Happy Families') in the 1970s and 1980s.

When the comic market began to shrink, Mevin acquired an agent who suggested he produce a strip spoofing overblown American soap operas like Dallas and Dynasty. Entitled 'The Soapremes', the strip was picked up by the Daily Mail.

In November 1992, Mevin took over the artwork on 'The Perishers' for the Daily Mirror which he drew for many years; written by Maurice Dodd (who had also worked on Animal Farm) and originally drawn by Dennis Collins, 'The Perishers' had been a daily institution since 1958; Collins had retired in 1983 and Dodd had drawn the strip himself for some years before Mevin came on board. The strip finally came to an end in 2006 following Dodd's death on 31 December 2005.

(* 'The Chase' is from Swift Annual 5 (1958) and is © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)