(* I posted a couple of covers by Brian Lewis recently and received a comment requesting information about the artist. After a lot of digging around, this is what I've found... )
Brian Moncrieff Lewis was born 3 June 1929. An ex-R.A.F. man with engineering design experience, he became an active member of SF fandom in the early 1950s, co-editing and contributed to The Medway Journal, although his first professional science fiction work is thought to have been an illustration for Journey Into Space in the Radio Times.
He published illustrations in New Worlds as early as 1954, followed by covers for all the Nova group of SF titles, beginning in July 1957. In total he supplied 40 covers for New Worlds, 21 for Science Fantasy and 19 for SF Adventures between 1957-62. Jon Gustafson and Peter Nicholls, writing in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, comment that Lewis was "A skilled painter whose work dominated UK sf magazine covers in the mid- and late 1950s, [Lewis] often showed a strong influence from Surrealists such as Paul Klee (1879-1940) and Max Ernst (1891-1976), perhaps partly mediated through the book-cover illustration of Richard Powers ... His colours were strong and plain and seemed laid on thickly, an impression few other illustrators give." He also produced a handful of covers for Digit Books during this period.
I believe Lewis made his comic strip debut in Lone Star in 1959 and TV Comic in 1960, but it was with 'Jet Ace Logan' in Tiger in 1961 that he began to make his name as a strip artist. After three months he switched to 'Captain Condor' in Lion, which he drew between December 1961 and January 1963. For Eagle, Lewis drew 'Home of the Wanderers' and 'Mann of Battle'. Given his credentials as a science fiction artist, Lewis may have seemed an odd choice for drawing sports and war strips, but he found a semi-regular home in Tiger with stints on 'The Suicide Six', 'Paddy Ryan' and 'Memorable Moments in Sport' in 1962-63 before finding himself a more regular home in Boys' World drawing the adventures of John Brody and various features, including covers.
He returned to SF with 'The Destroyer from the Depths' in Tiger and the various adventures of Planet Z in Hurricane (both 1964) before taking over 'The Guinea Pig' in Eagle for eight months (1965). Lewis also developed a more cartoony style for 'Pest of the West' and 'Georgie's Germs' in Wham!, these strips appearing at the same time as his adventure strips in Smash! and Lion.
Around 1966 he disappeared from comics to work in animation and children's puppet films, including the production of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (1968). His name has also been linked with The Muppet Show [see note at bottom].
Returning to comics in 1970, he drew various adventures for Countdown and Look-In as well as continuing his cartoon work with 'Tomboy' for Cor!! and Buster and 'Les Dawson is Superflop' for Look-In. Lewis also drew various advertising strips such as 'Inchman' in the 1970s. One time Buster sub-editor Dez Skinn made better use of Lewis's talents in the pages of House of Hammer where Lewis drew adaptations (including 'The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires', 'The Quatermass Xperiment' and 'The Reptile') and numerous covers between 1976-78.
Lewis also returned to Fleetway, briefly drawing 'Dan Dare' for 2000AD (1978) as a fill-in for Dave Gibbons and various covers. His last comic strip work appeared in the Van der Valk Annual published by Brown Watson in 1978. In his final year he also produced technical drawings for Harry Harrison's Mechanismo (Pierrot Publishing, 1978)
Lewis's last completed commission was for The Wall of Years by Andrew M. Stephenson (Futura, 1979). He died on 4 December 1978.
In 1982, a Halls of Horror Winter Special reprinted most of Lewis's strips from House of Hammer.
Jim Croasdale's British Comic Art website has various examples of Lewis's strip and cover work. Further strips and covers can be found here as can an accompanying article on Lewis (in Spanish). My thanks to Steve Winders for confirming Lewis's connection to the 'Wanderers' strip in Eagle. Jeremy Briggs was the original scanner of the photo at the top of the page, taken from Starburst no.6.
The Muppet Show:
Jeremy Briggs notes: "I looked for ... any connection between Lewis and The Muppet Show. I know that there are mentions elsewhere that he worked on it but I could find nothing to substantiate it and I suspect that Lewis actually did the comic strip in the Brown Watson early Muppet Show Annuals and the story has got distorted with time. I think that I put that into the first of the Brown Watson pieces in the Alley with a question mark against it."