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Sunday, February 13, 2011

L. Ashwell Wood - Behind the Scenes part 4

L Ashwell Wood’s Camden Town Tube Station
by Jeremy Briggs

One of the previous articles on Bear Alley on cutaway artist Leslie Ashwell Wood covered the preliminary pencils that he did for a King George V class battleship as used by the Royal Navy during World War II. It showed that he used his pencils for this subject twice, once for a cutaway in the 1943 Odhams book Britain’s Glorious Navy and again for a non-cutaway painting of the same ship which is now part of the collection of the UK’s National Archives and which was probably originally painted for the Ministry of Information.

Wood is best known for the cutaways that he did for Eagle comic in the 1950s and 1960s when, over the course of nineteen years, he completed more than 600 paintings for the comic. Despite printing so main cutaways over such a long period of time, it is initially surprising that while Eagle did reuse subjects in its cutaways, the supersonic airliner Concorde was covered twice for instance, it didn’t reprint earlier cutaways in later issues. It has to be said that this was probably mainly due of the change of cutaway format between the 1950s and 1960s. While Wood did illustrate the same subjects twice, including the aforementioned Concorde, he very rarely reused his pencils of earlier cutaways in later ones. While he seems to have partially reused one about ocean going ships in Vol 2 No 46 and Vol 19 No 6, both entitled “The Mighty Sea” but with substantially different layouts, the only illustration that he appears to have used in two separate issues of Eagle featured London Underground’s Camden Town Tube station.;

Wood first illustrated the station in colour in Eagle Vol 1 No 27 (13 October 1950) as “Amazing Underground Flying and Crossover Junctions” in what was then the standard long format cutaway printed in the upper half of the comic’s centre spread. He then reused the pencils for this early cutaway, with a few minor modifications, for one of the much later cutaways in the comic published in Vol 18 No 2 (14 January 1967) “Longest Railway Tunnel In The World”. By this time the cutaways had been changed to full page black and white illustrations and Wood was able to reformat his original pencils enough to reuse them in this style by adding a newly created illustration of the station’s tunnels looking at them from a different angle to the main cutaway.

On the second cutaway, apart from some minor changes, there are two main sections that were changed. In the over ground section showing Camden High Street, Wood updated the station entrance and the general street scene while underground he extended the concourse at the bottom of the escalators and removed the details of the escalator mechanism. He may have introduced these changes because the original illustration was inaccurate in these areas or alternatively because of changes that may have taken place to the station over the course of the sixteen years between the two cutaways being published. Since Wood lived in London, getting to Camden Town to see for himself wouldn’t have posed too great a problem.

It is to Leslie Ashwell Wood’s credit that in the 600+ paintings that he produced for Eagle over 19 years this is the only major cutaway that he appears to have reused. Unless, of course, you know of another.

(* Eagle illustrations © Dan Dare Corporation.)

1 comment:

Tony Woolrich said...

Glad to see more of Ashwell Wood. About 3 years ago a collection of Ashwell Wood's drawings and personal papers was auctioned - Can't find the reference though. Newspaper articles about him were mentioned,I think.

Did this material come from this source. If so, is there material to write a proper biographical article about him.