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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Illustrators #25 (Sprint 2019)

The silver anniversary issue of Illustrators has a certain glamour about it, with a silver cover featuring the artwork of Milo Manara and Greg Hildebrandt (front and back). In fact, glamour is the theme of this issue, with articles about Manara, Hidebrandt, Art Frahm and Margaret Brundage... so glamour in many different forms rather than of one note and one style.

Milo Manara is one of Italy's masters of erotic art. I've always thought his work is explicit without being gratuitous, the sexuality an integral part of the storylines he illustrates. Manara's first regular comic strip work was drawing a masked secret agent/vigilante for 22 episodes of the comic pocket book Genius in 1969. His switch to erotic comics came in 1971 when he began illustrating the series Jolanda de Almaviva, about a female pirate.

He came to wider public attention through the pages of Metal Hurlant and (A Suivre), although his true forte was discovered in 1983 when he began contributing 'Il gioco' to Playmen (an Italian Playboy-style magazine). Translated as Click (1985), it tells the story of a beautiful but frigid woman who is sexually awakened when a remote-controlled device is surgically implanted in her. It became a global hit and follow-ups like 'Il prfumo dell'invisibile' (Butterscotch) and 'Candid camera' (Hidden Camera) cemented Manara's reputation as one of the world's finest erotic artists.

Since then he has worked on many other comic strips, illustrations, film posters... even for Marvel Comics.

Greg Hildebrandt has also worked for Marvel Comics – and their rivals DC – although they (Greg and his twin brother Tim) are better known for their work on Star Wars and many illustrations related to Tolkein's novels  The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Since 1999, Greg has turned his talents to pin-up art and has since produced over 100 paintings, often with a noir aesthetic, which he publishes under the banner of American Beauties.

Art Frohm was one of the pin-up artists of the golden age of pin-up calendars. Having trained at Chicago's famous Art School, he set up his own studio in 1935. He became famous for his humorous trade mark:  the fragility of knicker elastic. Time and time again, his pin-up beauties have become entangled in their own fallen undies just as a breeze / an animal / a door causes their skirt or dress to billows up, revealing well toned thighs but nothing more. Darn that pants elastic.

Frohm also worked in advertising, creating a number of iconic images, including Coca Cola, Coppertone, and the character depicted on Quaker Oats packaging.

Margaret Brundage, famous for her pulp covers for Weird Tales, was also from Chicago and famous for her drawings of nude or near nude females. She studied at McKinley High School, a contemporary of Walt Disney, and later worked at the Dill Pickle Club during the Prohibition Era, where she met Myron Brundage, whose interests were radical politics, alcohol and women, not necessarily in that order. They married in 1927 and divorced in 1939, during which time Margaret had to be the breadwinner.

She painted covers and produced illustrations for Weird Tales, Golden Fleece and Oriental Stories, but her work fell out of favour following the death of editor Farnsworth Wright in 1940 and due to post-war 'decency' drives that meant Brundage's semi-nudes were no longer allowed. The remainder of her life until her death in 1976 was spent in relative poverty.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 26 will have features on John Millar Watt, Petar Meseldžija, Philip Mendoza and Arthur Barbosa.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

E J Wheeler

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

E.J. Wheeler was best-known as a member of the staff of Punch from 1880 onwards, and as the illustrator of a number of re-issues of the novels of Henry Fielding and Frederick Marryat.

He was born at 111 Praed Street, Paddington, on 9 February 1847 and baptised, as Edward Winning Wheeler (although he was later known as Edward Joseph Wheeler) at St. John’s Church, Paddington, on 28 March 1847. His father, Edward, was a railway clerk, born in London in around 1819, who had married Ann Alexander, born in London at around the same time, at St. John’s Church on 13 August 1837. They had four other children besides Edward; Hannah (1838), Jane (1845), Alfred (1849) and Henry (1852).

At the time of the 1851 census, the family was living at 38 Ferdinand Street, Kentish Town, with Edward senior working as a railway porter. There appears to be no trace of the family in 1861 census, but in 1871 they were living at 31 Dalby Street, Kentish Town, with Edward senior now a railway carrier foreman, and Edward Junior working as a portrait painter. It is not known where Edward trained as an artist.

His earliest-known work as an illustrator appeared in the magazine Belgravia in 1878. In 1880, he joined the staff of Punch, where he remained for over 20 years, producing theatrical sketches and illustrations to accompany pieces written by the magazine’s editor Francis Burnand. In 1893-1894 he illustrated a series of Sherlock Holmes parodies, The Adventures of Picklock Holes, written by R.C. Lehmann under the pseudonym of “Cunnin Toil,” which were later published in hardback.

Wheeler went on to contribute to a small number of other periodicals, including Good Words, Little Wide-Awake, The Cornhill Magazine, The Magazine of Music and The Black Cat. His work also appeared the annual Punch Almanack and in Hood’s Comic Annual.

His earliest-known book illustrations appeared in 1879, in a volume in Smith, Elder & Co.’s re-issues of the works of William Makepeace Thackeray. Two years later, he began illustrating sheet music for the publisher Stanley Lucas, Weber & Co. In 1886, he illustrated an edition of Frederick Marryat’s Masterman Ready for Frederick Warne & Co., and two years later he illustrated a collection of comic extracts from Dickens and a re-issue of Marryat’s Mr Midshipman Easy for G. Bell & Sons. Ten years later, when George Routledge & Sons launched their 22-volume series The Novels of Frederick Marryat, Wheeler was commissioned to illustrate 10 volumes, which appeared between 1897 and 1899. In 1893, he was commissioned by J.M. Dent & Co. to illustrate six volumes in their series of the works of Henry Fielding, including Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews, Jonathan Wild and Amelia, and this was followed by a commission from the same publisher for illustrations for three of their re-issues of works by Laurence Sterne, including Tristram Shandy.

In 1894-1895, he illustrated six novels in a re-issue of the works of Charles Lever (an Irish novelist, born in 1806 and died in 1872), which were published in America by Little, Brown & Co., of Boston.

He also illustrated a handful of children’s books, including three boys’ school stories (By A.E. Cheyne, Andrew Home and H. Barrow-North), and an adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels.

In 1890, at Hendon Register Office, he married Marianne Maggs Jones, born in Liverpool on 19 June 1859 and the daughter of Henry Thomas Octavius Jones, a letter carrier, and his wife Elizabeth, née Fennah, who had married in Liverpool in 1857. At the time of the 1881 census, she was a student boarding at 135 Queens Road, Paddington. After the marriage, Edward and Marianne lived with Edward’s parents at 25 Maitland Park Villas, Kentish Town. Edward’s father, then aged 73, was working as a coal merchant. Edward and Marianne went on to have six children: Edward Henry (born in 1891), John Charles (1893), Marianne (1895), Cecilia (1897), Teresa Emily (1899), and Anne Elizabeth (1901).

His work appeared in a handful of exhibitions, although these were associated with his humorous work for Punch – for example, in 1889 his work was included an an exhibition devoted to “English Humorists” at the Royal Instuitute of painters in Watercolours. Throughout the 1880 and 1890s he helped with dramatic entertainments associated with the Priory Schools in Hampstead, and in the early 1900s he was a member of the St. Dominic’s Dramatic Society.

He appears to have done very little work after 1900, with only a handful of books with his illustrations appearing up until 1907. At the time of the 1901 census, he and his family were living at 10 Maitland Park Road, Kentish Town, and they were still there ten years later, with Edward describing himself as an artist and draughtsman.

He appears to have moved back to 25 Maitland Park Villas, which is where he died on 24 November 1933, leaving a small estate valued at just £378. His wife subsequently moved to 25 Maybank Avenue, Wembley, which is where she died in 1940.


Books Illustrated by E. J. Wheeler
The Memoirs of Mr Charles J. Yellowplush; The Fitz-Boodle Papers, Cox’s Diary; and Character Sketches by William Makepeace Thackeray, Smith, Elder & Co, 1879 (with other artists)
Dance Grotesques for Piano by Arthur H. Jackson (3 nos.), Stanley Lucas, Weber & Co., 1881
Our Golden Youth: A Satire of the Day by anon., published for the proprietor at 6 York Street, Covent Garden, 1881 (with other artists)
The Captain’s Room by Walter Besant, Chatto & Windus, 1883
Childe Chappie’s Pilgrimage by E.J. Milliken, Bradbury & Agnew, 1883
Masterman Ready, or The Wreck of the Pacific by Frederick Marryat, Frederick Warne & Co., 1886
The Big Otter: A Tale of the Great Nor’-West by R.M. Ballantyne, George Routledge & Sons, 1887
Tales from Pickwick, with The Five Sisters of York and the Baron of Grogzwig from Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, George Routledge & Sons, 1888
Metzler’s Red Album (4 volumes) (music), Metzler & Co., 1888
Mr Midshipman Easy by Frederick Marryat, G. Bell & Sons, 1888 (re-issue)
The Billow and the Rock: A Tale by Harriet Martineau, George Routledge & Sons, 1889 (re-issue)
Little Red Waistcoat: Takes and Sketches for Little People, George Routledge & Sons, 1890 (with other artists)
Dick Layard, or a Schoolboy’s Trial by A.E. Cheyne, S.P.C.K., 1892
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding, J.M. Dent & Co., 1893 (with Herbert Railton) (re-issue)
The Adventures of Joseph Andrews and His Friend Mr Abraham Adams by Henry Fielding, J.M. Dent & Co., 1893 (with Herbert Railton) (re-issue)
The History of the Life of the Late Mr Jonathan Wild by Henry Fielding, J.M Dent & Co., 1893 (with Herbert Railton) (re-issue)
Amelia by Henry Fielding, J.M. Dent & Co., 1893 (with Herbert Railton) (re-issue)
A Journey From This World to the Next, and A Voyage to Lisbon by Henry Fielding, J.M. Dent & Co., 1893 (with Herbert Railton) (re-issue)
The Life and Death of Tom Thumb, and Some Miscellaneous Writings by Henry Fielding, J.M. Dent & Co., 1893 (with Herbert Railton) (re-issue)
The Letters, Sermons and Miscellaneous Writings of Laurence Sterne by Laurence Sterne, J.M. Dent & Co., 1894
The Pictorial Tutor, The “Magazine of Music” Office, 1894
A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne, J.M. Dent & Co., 1894 (re-issue)
The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne, J.M. Dent & Co., 1894
Gulliver’s Travels, Adapted for the Young by Jonathan Swift, George Routledge & Sons, 1895
From Fag to Monitor, or Fighting to the Front by Andrew Home, A. & C. Black, 1896
The Professor’s Experiment by Margaret Hungerford, Chatto & Windus, 1896
The Boys of Dormitory Three: A Tale of Mystery, Fun and Frolic by H. Barrow-North, George Routledge & Sons, 1899
The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas, George Routledge & Sons, 1899
An Evening with “Punch”, Bradbury & Agnew, 1900 (with other artists)
The Adventures of Piclock Holes, Together with a Perversion and a Burlesque by R.C. Lehmann, Bradbury, Agnew & Co., 1901 (with Edward T. Reed)
Mr Punch’s Dramatic Sequels, Bradbuary & Agnew, 1901
The Voice of the River: A Dartmoor Story by Olive Katharine Parr, George Routledge & Sons, 1903 (with Katharine Parr)
Mr Punch’s Railway Book, Amalgamated Press, 1906 (with other artists)
Back Slum Idylls by Olive Katharine Parr, R. & T. Washbourne, 1907

Re-issues of he novels of Frederick Marryat, published by George Routledge & Sons:
Peter Simple, 1896
Jacob Faithful 1896
Japhet in Search of a Father 1896
Rattlin the Reefer 1897
The Settlers in Canada 1898
Valerie: An Autobiography 1898
Percival Keene 1898
The Travels and Adventures of Monsieur Violet 1898
The Privateersman 1898
The Little Savage 1899

Re-issues of the novels of Charles Lever, published by Little, Brown & Co., Boston, USA:
The Bramleighs of Bishop’s Folly, to which is added, Diary and Notes of Horace Templeton 1894
The Fortune of Glencore 1894
Sir Brooke Fossbrooke, to which is added St. Patrick’s Eve by 1895 (with Hablot K. Browne)
Tony Butler 1895
Lord Kilgobbin 1895

ComicScene v2 #2 (May 2019)

I haven't reviewed an issue of ComicScene for a couple of months, during which period the magazine has earned itself some well-deserved mainstream distribution. Editor Tony Foster deserves a round of applause, because distribution outside of the relatively small world of British comics collectors is the only way ComicScene is ever likely to grow its audience to sustainable levels.

To broaden its appeal, ComicScene has also broadened its scope. The latest issue has articles on historical Batman of the 1940s, DC's new Wonder Comics imprint, while Joel Meadows' TripWire section celebrates the 80th birthday of Batman with a look at his adventures on the small and big screen, plus Hellboy, Shazam! and reviews of The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol.

British comics are still given ample coverage, with Richard Sheaf's feature on Digby; both Richard Bruton and Peter Gouldson take a look at the history of Captain Britain; Chris Baker discusses his latest comic, Our Land (available online at; Stephen Jewell interviews Rob Williams about the latest 'Roy of the Rovers' graphic novel, while Richard Bruton pieces together the history of the ill-fated football comic Glory, Glory; Richard Piers Rayner is interviewed; and wrapping up the issue is Ian Wheeler's look back at a classic Doctor Who strip. Lew Stringer makes his debut as a regular columnist with a look back at humour strips, dipping briefly into the works of many artists.

I'm pleased to see that my plea for the occasional longer feature has been answered – in fact, some of the pieces above are sequels to articles in the first issue, and Peter Gouldson's article on Marvel UK in this issue is one episode of a lengthy, multi-part history of the first ten-or-so years of the company.

Regular Pat Mills asks "Could there be another 2000AD today?" in his 'Last Word' column and answers his own question with the creation of a parody entitled Space Warp in my favourite piece in the whole mag.

I'm also very happy to see that the reviews section continues to eschew the mainstream and reviews a wide range of independent and small press comics.

Details about subscriptions can be obtained from Rates for print issues for the UK are £5.99 for one issue; £35 for 6 issues; £68 for 12 issues.You can get a pdf version for £3.99 (1), £22 (6) or £40 (12).

Payment can be made via PayPal to For other options, and for international rates for the print edition, visit the website.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Comic Cuts - 22 March 2019

My latest little side project to reprint a few Gwyn Evans novels has progressed a little. I now have text for the first two books and hopefully both sets of text have been stripped of any OCR errors. At some point I'm going to have to scan the other two books, but not this weekend as I have family things planned.

I'm still not sure what to do about covers. I have a good scan of the third cover but only middling-sized scans of books one and two. I only have a tiny, low-res, wonky photograph of the fourth that will look terrible if I try to blow it up. It's unfixable. Given these circumstances, I'm thinking that I need new front covers and can use small versions of the original covers as part of the design for the back of the books. I might just about be able to get away with the low quality of that last one that way.

But that leaves me with the problem of needing four covers. I've been mulling this over all week and I'm still coming up blank. Actually, that's not quite true... I have had one idea – I just don't know whether I've got the skills to make it look good (I'm not an artist, nor am I a graphic designer). I'll have to have a play around to see if I can make the idea work.

I was a fan of True Detective from the beginning, the eight-episode debut series that starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. It was broadcast back in 2014 and I picked up the DVD in 2016, followed pretty quickly by the DVD of season two, which was an entirely new cast (Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams), story and director. If I remember correctly, it was given a bit of a kicking when it was broadcast in 2015 and there were questions over whether a third season would be made.

Well, it was, and it debuted on HBO two months ago.  It retains its creator and chief writer, Nic Pizzolatto, and saw director Cary Joji Fukunaga return. Fukunaga, incidentally, replaced Danny Boyle as the director of the next James Bond movie, recently revealed to be called Shatterhand.

The new series of eight episodes has been very well reviewed and I'm not going to buck that trend. The story weaves through three different time periods and three different investigations into the same crime. Two young children go missing in 1980 and two Arkansas police officers are assigned to the case. Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff) question the father and follow up what few clues they uncover. Hays, a former army vet with experience of tracking in Vietnam, discovers the site of the young Will Purcell's death and his body hidden in a cave. The boys' younger sister, Julie, remains untraced.

In 1990, the case is reopened when fingerprints matching Julie Purcell's are discovered. West is put in charge and he persuades his bosses to bring in Hays, who has been demoted from homicide. It is West's task not to upset the conviction of a Native American named Brett Woodard for the murder of Will Purcell but he agrees with Hays that this time they will discover the truth.

In 2015, Hays is suffering from memory loss but agrees to be filmed for a TV show about the murders. His interviewer seems to have new evidence and Hays looks for the first time at the book his wife (whom he met during the original investigation) wrote on the murders.

The threads of the investigation of the missing children and the personal lives of the investigators interweave as the story unfolds during these three different time frames. At times the story threatens to grow bigger, into a tale of sex trafficking with possible connections to Las Vegas... and then it shrinks back down to become a series of more personal tragedies. It will certainly keep you uncertain of where it's going right up to the end.

It was a slow burn compared to the last couple of shows I've watched (The Punisher, Counterpart), but all the better for it and the whole thing wraps up in a very satisfying way. I like these anthology series. I think I'd have to say my favourite is Fargo, but True Detective isn't far behind. I guess we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed now that there will be a season four.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Commando 5211-5214

Brand new Commando issues are out today! We’ve got fighting jazzmen in Italy, bicycles to Dunkirk, and a giant gun on the loose! Plus, the final issue of the WAR ACROSS EUROPE trilogy!

5211: WAR ACROSS EUROPE: Revenge!

The final issue of WAR ACROSS EUROPE is here and vengeance is nigh! In this instalment, Stefan comes face to face with his arch-nemesis, Kriminaldirektor Hans Keller, a vile gestapo agent and the person who killed his best friend. With the help of French Resistance member, Maria, Stefan will have his revenge!

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Morhain & Defeo
Cover: Neil Roberts

5212: None So Brave

Get ready to get jazzed up, cool cats – if you can dig it, daddy-o! Eric Hebden’s jazz musician, Nicky Quinn, could really blow a trumpet, but when it came to the war he wanted to jive straight outta there, man! But Quinn and his jazz band are about to meet their match in Sergeant Major Jake Bradley who’s as tone deaf as he is determined to make those jazzmen into soldiers!

Story: E Hebden
Art: CT Rigby
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 630 (1972).

5213: Battle Blisters

Graeme Neil Reid bursts into the scene with another vibrant cover! This time bringing George Low’s “Lanky Larry” to life as he heads towards Dunkirk on his unusual transport! This slapstick comedy will have you falling off your seat, but first – on your bike, sunshine!

Story: George Low
Art: Jaume Forns
Cover: Graeme Neil Reid

5214: Hunt that Gun!

How do you stop a psychotic Nazi hell-bent on destroying the British with his gigantic gun? Well, you’ve got to find it first! Ian Kennedy really lends credence to the K5 railway gun's sheer size and stature with a stupendous wrap-around cover, which really attests to the magnitude of the evil weapon in Alan Hemus’ story!

Story: Alan Hemus
Art: Gordon C Livingstone
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2719 (1993).

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Rebellion releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 20 March 2019.

2000AD Prog 2123
Cover: Leigh Gallagher

JUDGE DREDD: CITIZENSHIP by Rory McConville (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: DUNGEONS & DATING by Emma Beeby, Gordon Rennie (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse Ville (l)
KINGMAKER: OUROBOROS by Ian Edginton (w) Leigh Gallagher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
GREY AREA: MAKING HISTORY by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 406
Cover: Cliff Robinson

JUDGE DREDD: PLANTED by Rory McConville (w) Jake Lynch (a) Jim Boswell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
LAWLESS: ASHES TO ASHES by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
STORM WARNING: GREEN & PLEASANT LAND by John Reppion, Leah Moore (w) Tom Foster (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Simon Bowland  (l)
BLUNT II by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)
THE DARK JUDGES: THE TORTURE GARDEN by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Features: New Comics: Gryyym, Classic Comics: Tammy & Jinty, interviews with Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard
Bagged reprint: Operation: Overlord Vol.3

Fran of the Floods
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08672-8, 21 March 2019, 113pp, £12.99. Available via Amazon.

This book couldn't be more relevant if it tried - it comes from the pages of the legendary Jinty and is ideal for youngsters and nostalgists alike.
    Due to increased climate change, the sun starts to melt the ice caps and evaporates the world’s oceans, causing an onslaught of never ending rain. At first young Hazelford resident, Fran Scott, finds the whole thing amusing, but as the town begins to disappear underwater, the desperation of her predicament becomes all too clear.
    After losing her parents in the chaos, Fran decides to seek out her sister June, who recently moved to Scotland. But as the situation gets worse and society begins to crumble around her, Fran must overcome a vast array of dangers, including disease, wild animals, marauding gangs of vicious thugs and most bizarre of all, the self-proclaimed king of Glasgow!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Fran of the Floods

The 1960s and 1970s were the great age of disaster strips in comics. The term "cozy catastrophe" was coined by Brian Aldiss to describe a couple of novels by John Wyndham, but has broadened over the years to encompass any post-apocalypse novel where the protagonist survives relatively unscathed in a world that has been emptied through disaster or invasion; you might also add that rebuilding the world seems to fall to a group of middle class folk, who immediately hole up in a deserted mansion and start growing vegetables and raising free range chickens.

No such luck for Fran, where freak weather has turned even the Sahara desert into a tropical rain forest and in suburban Hazelford the rivers are on the rise. Frances "Fran" Scott and her best friend Jill take advantage of the weather to get away from her fractious family and have some fun sailing a raft. Fran's scientifically-minded headmistress asserts that the ice caps are melting and this is the end of the world as we know it. She has been trying to keep the children's minds off the problem by organising a concert, while Fran's parents have been stockpiling food.

Towns around the Fens have disappeared underwater... and then the Thames bursts its banks. Meanwhile, tensions spill over in the Scott household and Fran's sister, June, leaves her job and escapes to Scotland. The relentless rain causes a rush on food and when the supermarket runs out, neighbours break into Fran's house after hearing about their stockpile. The Scott's are saved by Rod Pearson and a gang of his friends.

June is safe in Scotland, according to a letter, bit Hazelford is about to be destroyed as the reservoir cracks under the weight of water and sends a flood tumbling down onto the town and to the school just as Fran takes her turn on the stage at the school concert.

Alan Davidson's apocalyptic tale originally appeared in the pages of Jinty in 1976 and is being touted as an early example of cli-fi, although it is not man-made climate change that causes this disaster but the sun burning a little hotter. The intense heat and tropical jungles growing in England are more reminiscent of The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard (1962) than, say, Forty Days of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson (2004).

It is not a tale that shies away from some of the grimmer aspects of disaster: people's fear, frustration, anger and resentment all spill out on the pages of the story. The grief in Fran's face as Rosie is swept away by the waters, her fear that she is the only survivor, and the knowledge that – having discovered a young girl and her pet – that the pet might be the only source of food they have... all are chillingly depicted by Phil Gascoine, a veteran of girls' comics who knew not to hold back with emotions.

Which was fortunate, because there is an emotional roller-coaster to get through before this tale is told. Fran and Jill (who has also survived) are captured by the Black Circle, who are using captives as slave labour to survive; then there's the eerie, guarded village that Fran breaks into only to find herself in a quarantine zone for an unrecognised plague and the community living in the limestone caves beneath the Pennines; finally – and it might indeed be the last thing they do – they meet the extraordinary David, King of Glasgow.

While disaster stories were popular in boys' comics (Buster was home to many, including one entitled 'The Drowned World' in 1964), few had anything like the same kind of emotional resonance as 'Fran of the Floods'. Fran also played a significant role in the history of Jinty, which had launched in the spring of 1974 with the usual mix of girls' adventure strips. Fran's adventures proved so popular, the strip ran for seven months and started a trend in Jinty for the kind of science fiction stories it was to become most remembered for, including other early environmental yarns and cosy catastrophies.

This is another superb choice of stories from Rebellion's Treasure of British Comics range of titles. Let's hope there are many more of the same to come.

Fran of the Floods. Rebellion ISBN  9781781086728, 21 March 2019, 112pp, £12.99. Available via Amazon.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

P. Walford

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

P. Walford was known to collectors of children’s as the illustrator of a handful of school and adventure stories, although this work appears to have been an occasional sideline from his main job as an art teacher. Unfortunately, his life is something of a mystery.

He was born on 31 January 1893 in Buckingham, and christened Percival John Walford, the last of five children born to William Henry Walford (born in Brackley, Northamptonshire, in 1854) a postmaster, and his wife Alice Keene, née Simmons (a farmer’s daughter born in Buckingham in 1856), who had married in 1878. The family moved from Buckingham at some point after Percival’s birth, initially to 69 High Streety, Walton le Soken Essex (1901 census), and then to Englefield Green, Surrey (1911 census). At that time, Percival was recorded as an art student, although it is not known where he was studying.

At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the 5th London Regiment as a Rifleman, reaching the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, although further details of his war service are not known. On his discharge, he moved to 26 Ellerslie Road, Hammersmith.

In 1922 he married Ida Katherine Burgess, born on 24 September 1901 and the daughter of Alfred Burgess, a Quantity Surveyor, and Florimel Grace, née Hutchinson. They moved to 2 St. Johns Park Mansions, Pemberton Gardens, Islington, and went on to have four children, beginning with Robert in 1923.

Walford’s brief career as an illustrator appears to have begun in 1924, when he contributed to The Detective Magazine, and illustrated two books for the Sheldon Press, The Secret of Marsh Haven by Alfred Judd and The Lone Shanty on the Hill by Nancy M. Hayes, and another Alfred Judd story, The Mystery of Meldon School, for Jarrold & Sons. He went on to illustrate at least four more books for the Sheldon Press, including two more boys’ school stories, and one book for S.W. Partridge & Co., between 1925 and 1927, and he also contributed to Modern Weekly in 1928.

Not all of the books Walford illustrated credited him as illustrator on the title page, and as his signature was very small, and often written on a dark background, it is likely that he illustrated many more books than the ten that have been identified.

By 1933 Walford was working as an Art Teacher (as evidenced by his mother’s will, which named him as an executor (along with his brother Ernest, working as an ironmonger). However, where he was working is not known. In the 1939 Register he was recorded as an “Art Master and Artist” at 83 Summerland Avenue, Minehead, Somerset, whilst his wife and children were living at Morecroft, Manor Road, Twickenham, to where they had moved in or prior to 1934. They remained there until at least 1957.

Walford is known to have illustrated two more children’s books in 1945 and 1948, but nothing after this has been identified. Walford died, at “Shappon,” Kings Somborne, Stockbridge,  Hampshire, on 22 March 1978, of chronic myocarditis and ischaemic heart disease. He did not leave a will. His wife died at Morecroft, Muss Lane, Kings Somborne, Hampshire, on 31 March 1984, leaving an estate valued at £79, 708.


Books illustrated by P. Walford
The Mystery of Meldon School by Alfred Judd, Jarrolds, 1924
The Secret of Marsh Haven: A Story of School Adventure by Alfred Judd, Sheldon Press, 1924
The Lone Shanty on the Hill by Nancy M. Hayes, Sheldon Press, 1924
The School Over the Way by Wallace Grey, Sheldon Press, 1925
Fellow Fags by Ethel Talbot, Sheldon Press, 1926
My Lady Venturesome: A Story of 1865 by Dorothea Moore, Sheldon Press, 1926
The Family Next Door by Ethel Talbot, Sheldon Press, 1927
Adventurers All by Dorothea Moore, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927
Wings Over the Atlantic: A Tale of Coastal Command by Rowland Walker, A. & C. Black, 1945
Animal Tales from History by Kate Floyd Morton, Evans Brothers, 1948

Friday, March 15, 2019

Comic Cuts - 15 March 2019

The problem with having a full-time job – which is what I have at the moment, even if it's only temporary – is that I keep looking enviously at other projects and wishing I could work on them. There's the Valiant index, for instance, or the fifth volume of Forgotten Authors, or a return to the Caught in the Act project, a top-to-toe revision of The Mushroom Jungle, or the book on pirate comics publishers.

I dip my toe into these occasionally as new information presents itself, but I've not had a chance to knuckle down and do any substantial work on anything outside of my current employment since November. The only break I've had (ignoring Christmas and New Year as that was family time, not extracurricular work time) was three days off to prep, film and recover from the Iron Mask segment that will appear on The One Show. The production company asked for an additional image on Wednesday, and say its currently being edited.

Thanks to the arrival of a book I've been looking out for on Saturday, I've finally picked a project that I'll see through to publication. It won't be of the greatest interest to most of you, but it will hopefully please a few.

I'm planning to reprint some of Gwyn Evans' novels. Back in 2004, I wrote an essay about Evans and his writing career. He was primarily a writer of crime fiction, especially Sexton Blake thrillers. But his life outside his writing, as a Bohemian alcoholic, I found just as fascinating.

I expanded the essay into a book called Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, The Lover and The Poet in 2012, which I didn't expect to sell more than a few dozen copies... and it didn't upset those expectations. Part of the reason Evans is now forgotten is that none of his work is in print. His delightful Christmas adventures of Sexton Blake were reprinted by Howard Baker in 1974, and still turns up second hand online, but you have to know about it and look for it. After forty-five years you're unlikely to just stumble upon it.

So when I was writing the book I thought it would be an idea to get a couple of novels back into print. After all, they're out of copyright so I could do it relatively cheaply. I put together the texts of a couple of books, but then allowed myself to be distracted by a couple of other projects, negotiating the rights to reprint the four Sexton Blake Annuals (all of which included Evans' stories) and writing the Lion King of  Picture Story Papers book.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I'm working on the text for the second novel and, at some point, I'll reprint the first two Bill Kellaway novels, Hercules, Esq. and The Homicide Club, two classics written in Evans' boozy days in the late 1920s, but inventive, funny, and filled with likable, eccentric characters. If I can keep up the momentum, I'll also be reprinting Satan, Ltd. and The Return of "Hercules, Esq." as it would be nice to have all four books available. And maybe more, should there be a demand.

Because Mel was at a convention over the weekend, I spent a big chunk of Saturday trying to restore the cover of Satan, Ltd.. Some of you may remember from last week's column the rather battered and scarred cover... well, you can now compare it to the restored cover at the top of this week's column. I think it looks pretty good.

I watched the first season of the science fiction thriller Counterpart last November and thought it superb. The premise of the show is that in 1987, a group of scientists discover that a parallel Earth exists and there is a corridor that connects the two realities. There is an episode in season 2 that shows this event, so I won't go too deeply into it; what I can say is that two counterparts begin experimenting to create small differences between the two worlds.

A flu epidemic in the early 1990s wipes out half a billion in the Prime reality and some in the Prime Office of Interchange (OI) set up an programme called Indigo, taking children and training them to take over the lives of their counterparts in the Alpha reality, with a plan to have these sleeper agents avenge what Indigo believe was a deliberate attack.

The second season opened at a point where the crossing point has been closed following an attack on Alpha OI where infiltrators gun down nearly a dozen staff. As the season unfolds, Howard Silk (Prime, who has swapped places with his Alpha counterpart), his (Alpha) wife, and members of the Alpha OI try to track down the Prime terrorists and a Prime agent known as Shadow – actually the wife of Alpha OI's Director of Strategy, Peter Quayle.

Meanwhile, Howard Silk Alpha is arrested while helping his (Prime) wife, and sent to a facility known as Echo where he meets a scientist named Yanek, a prisoner but actively interrogating those around him, including Prime's Peter Quayle.

Last time I praised the incredible central performance of J. K. Simmons as Howard Silk; he's still brilliant, but over season two the two very different characters from season one seem to be merging and growing more alike. Instead, the character of contrast who joined Howard  front and centre for this second season, is Olivia Williams as his wife / ex-wife, who was in a coma (Alpha) for season one but turns out to have a key role in the hunt for Indigo. Also, Harry Lloyd deserves a mention for his range as Peter Quayle, from slick, smug Peter, confused and scared Peter, angry Peter, vulnerable Peter – and all this before we get to the twitchy madness of his counterpart.

All this talk of Alpha and Prime may make it sound confusing to watch, but it really isn't. I never felt lost in the plot despite its complexity nor confused between realities. Although it has a science fiction premise, it's shot like a spy drama and has the pace and depth of a Cold War thriller, teasing and building and revealing and building again towards the climax of the show.

The Starz channel where Counterpart originally aired ordered two seasons and have decided not to renew the show. Thankfully it ends very satisfactorily (you know how I hate a cliffhanger season  ending!) but adds a little coda that could be a devastating opening position for a third season, although that seems an unlikely proposition. I'm just glad the producers were given the right amount of space to tell the story they planned.

Our random scans this week are a few of the books that have been added to the teetering piles dotted around the house over the past few weeks.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Today's releases from Rebellion – 13 March 2019.

2000AD Prog 2122
Cover: Alex Ronald

JUDGE DREDD: MACHINE LAW by John Wagner (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: LOUDER THAN BOMBS by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Quinton Winter (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
THARG'S 3RILLERS: TOOTH AND NAIL by Andi Ewington (w) Staz Johnson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Simon Bowland (l)
GREY AREA: SHOOT TO KILL by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
JAEGIR: BONEGRINDER by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Annie Parkhouse

Judge Anderson: Devourer by  Laurel Sills (ebook / paperback)

Rebellion 978-1781-08648-3, 14 March 2019. Available via Amazon. (ebook)
Abaddon Books 978-1781-08745-9, 14 March 2019, 135pp, £7.99. Cover by Christian Ward. (paperback)

The latest fiction novella from 2000 AD – it’s Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson’s second year on the streets as a full-Eagle Judge, and something’s taking down Psi-Judges. More and more are turning up in the infirmary with only one phrase in their minds: I am not worthy.
    Pulled off a hunt for a missing child, Anderson finds herself partnered with seasoned Judge Mei Yin on the trail of the cult behind the madness.
    But Mei Yin doesn’t do partners.  And she’s more closely connected with the case than she’s willing to admit to…
   Available as an ebook and as a limited edition paperback.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

R H Brock

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

R.H. Brock is the “forgotten” Brock brother. Two of his siblings, C.E. Brock and H.M. Brock, were amongst the best-known and most talented illustrators of their era, both with a similar but instantly recognisable style. R.H. Brock was generally regarded as the least talented of the three, and he was certainly nowhere near as prolific. Yet he was a competent and versatile artist, equally at home painting in oils and watercolours as he was illustrating in black and white and colour. Unfortunately, he has been very much ignored by all the major commentators – he merits just a few lines in Simon Houfe’s The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914, and he hardly features at all in C.M. Skelly’s biography of the Brock family, The Brocks: A Family of Cambridge Artists and Illustrators.

The brothers’ father was Edmund Brock, born in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, in 1840. His father, Jeremiah, a painter, took the family to Islington, London, where, in his late teens, Edmund became a bookmaker. However, by the mid-1860s he was a member of the Early English Text Society, and he was publishing his own texts – for example translations from the medieval English of some of Chaucer’s works, and a translation of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. He subsequently spent 40 years working for the Cambridge University Press as a reader specializing in medieval and oriental languages. He married Mary Ann Louise Pegram (born in London in 1836) at Regent’s Park Chapel, Marylebone, on 23 February 1867, moving to Leighton Road, Kentish Town, where their first child, Alice Emma, was born in 1868. They then moved to Hampden Road, Holloway, where C.E. Brock, christened Charles Edmund Brock, was born on 5 February 1870. They then moved to Cornwall Terrace, Friern Barnet, where R.H. (Richard Henry) was born on 21 July 1871, before moving to Cambridge, firstly to Coronation Street, where a third son was born, and then to 4 Perowne Street, where a further three children, including H.M. (Henry Matthew), were born.

Richard, along with his brothers, was educated at St. Barnabas Church of England School and then at the Higher Grade School for Boys in Paradise Street, Cambridge. At the time of the 1891 census he was living with his parents and siblings at 3 Barrie Villas, Abbey Road, and described as a “Pupil Teacher in Art School.” This was the Cambridge School of Art, where he had been studying since 1888. He remained there until at least 1895 – he was a regular prize-winner, and for some years was studying alongside his two brothers.

His career as an illustrator seems to have begun in 1897, when he contributed to The Infants’ Magazine and The Family Friend, both published by S.W. Partridge & Co. However, this appears to have been a false start, as he spent the following 20 years or so concentrating on painting. He specialised in rural scenes, in particular farming, horses, hunting and other country pursuits. He exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1901, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1912 and 1913, and also occasionally elsewhere, such as Derby in 1905 and Bradford in 1907. He was also a keen musician, playing the violin and cello with the Cambridge Orchestral Society.

In 1916 he began contributing to The Tatler and Punch (he had four drawings published in Punch  in 1916 and 1917), and he later contributed to Chums, Printer’s Pie, Outward Bound, The Boy’s Own Paper, The Boys Magazine, Chatterbox, The Wide World Magazine, The Happy Mag, The Detective Magazine, The Red Magazine, The Scout and The Golden Mag. However, he was not a regular contributor to any of these periodicals, although he did contribute sporadically to The Boy’s Own Paper between 1921 and 1932. Between 1918 and 1920 he also illustrated stories published in The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph.

From the mid-1890s onwards he lived with his parents at Arundine House, where he shared a studio with his brothers. In the 1901 census, he was described simply as a painter, whereas his brothers were both recorded as “Artist Painter & Book Illustrator.”

On 25 August 1917, at the Independent Chapel, Hanworth Road, Hounslow, he married Mary Cooke, a schoolmistress, born on 27 November 1882, the daughter of Charles Henry Cooke, a jeweller. Richard continued living in the family home in Madingley Road until late 1938.

While his brothers Charles and Henry had begun illustrating books in the 1890s, Richard appears to have only begun to do this in 1920, when he illustrated Three Girls on a Ranch, written by Bessie Marchant and published by Blackie & Sons. He went on to illustrate a further 25 or so books for Blackie, and he also worked occasionally for other publishers such as Thomas Nelson & Sons, the Oxford University Press, the Sheldon Press, the Religious Tract Society (his books appeared under the imprint of The “Boy’s Own Paper” Office) and Eyre & Spottiswoode. Like his brothers, he was commissioned to illustrate new editions of “classic” novels, such as The Three Musketeers, Lorna Doone, The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Cloister and the Hearth, and Mrs Henry Wood’s The Channings.

Many of the books he illustrated were girls’ stories, by authors such as Margaret Batchelor, Ethel Talbot, E.E. Cowper, Alice Massie, Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Katherine Oldmeadow, Nancy M. Hayes, Brenda Girvin, Violet Methley and Jessie Leckie Herbertson. Amongst the boys’ writers whose books he illustrated were Alfred Judd, Herbert Strang, R.A.H. Goodyear, Stanton Hope and George Manville Fenn.

In total, more than 80 books containing his illustrations have been recorded, although there are almost certainly several more. This does not include the numerous children’s annuals and similar large-format books to which he contributed  – these included The Big Book of School Stories for Boys , The Boys’ Book of School Stories, Blackie’s Boys’ Annual, Blackie’s Children’s Annual, Schoolboy Stories Splendid Stories for Girls, The Girls’ Budget, The Boys’ Budget, The Big Budget for Boys, The Grand Adventure Book for Boys, The Golden Budget for Girls, The Golden Budget for Boys, The Blue Line School Stories for Girls, Delightful Stories for Girls, The Jolly Book, Nelson’s Jolly Book for Boys, Nelson’s Budget for Girls, Storyland for Girls, The Empire Annual for Girls, Hulton’s Girls’ Stories, Jolly Days for Girls, The Schoolgirls’ Bumper Book and A Story Book for Me.

He was also responsible for the covers for many of George Newnes’s Black Bess Library and Dick Turpin Library between 1921 and 1930, along with C.P. Shilton.

R.H. Brock’s periodical work appears to have come to an end in 1932, although he continued illustrating books until around 1940. However, he appears to have more or less abandoned his career as an artist prior to this – by 1939 he and his wife were running a boarding house at 14 Priory Avenue, Hastings. They appear to have stopped advertising the boarding house after June 1940, and they subsequently moved to 32 Bulstrode Road, Hounslow.

Richard Henry Brock died, of heart disease, at Bulstrode Road on 11 June 1943, apparently without leaving a will.  It is not known when his wife died.


Books illustrated by R.H. Brock:
Three Girls on a Ranch by Bessie Marchant, Blackie & Son, 1920
Uncle Tom’s Scrape by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1922
A Little Rhodesian by Margaret Batchelor, Oxford University Press, 1922
Camp-fire Stories by Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1922 (with C.E. Brock)
Neighbours at School by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1923
The Mystery Term by E.E. Cowper, Blackie & Son, 1923
The Secret of Canute’s Island by G. Godfray Sellick, “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1923
The Bringing Up of Mary Ann by Alice Massie, Oxford University Press, 1923
A Cherry Tree by Amy Le Feuvre, Oxford University Press, 1923 (re-issue)
The Scouring of the White Horse by Thomas Hughes, Blackie & Son, 1925 (re-issue)
The Holiday Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1923 (with other artists)
One Summer Holiday by Natalie Joan, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924
Sally at School by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924
Gwenda’s Friend from Home by Margaret Batchelor, Oxford University Press, 1924
Don’s Treasure Trove by Alice Massie, Oxford University Press, 1924
The Children of Sunshine Mine: A Story of Rhodesia by Margaret Batchelor, Oxford University Press, 1924 (with C.E. Brock)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, abridged by C.H. Irwin, ”Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1924
The Boarding School Girl by Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Oxford University Press, 1925
By Honour Bound: A School Story for Girls by Bessie Marchant, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
The Stranger in the Train and other stories by Ethel Talbot, Sheldon Press, 1925
The Secret Brotherhood by Marjorie C. Bernard, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
Castle Dune by Katherine L. Oldmeadow, Blackie & Son, 1925
Tracked on the Trail by Nancy M. Hayes, Sheldon Press, 1925
Red Roof Farm by Joan Leslie, Oxford University Press, 1925
Witch of the Wilds by E.E. Cowper, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
The Young Folk’s Treasure Chest, “Daily Express” Publications, 1925 (with other artists)
Gytha’s Message: A Tale of Saxon England by Emma Leslie, Blackie & Son, 1925 (re-issue)
The Rood and the Raven by Gertrude Hollis, “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1926
June the Girl Guide by Brenda Girvin, Oxford University Press, 1926
Bringing Back the Frasers and other stories by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1926 (with other artists)
Out and About by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1926 (with other artists)
The Riddle of Randley School by Alfred Judd, Blackie & Son, 1927
Bab’s Two Cousins, or The Organist’s Baby by Kathleen Knox, Blackie & Son, 1927
An Island for Two: A School Story by L.F. Ramsay, Sheldon Press, 1927
Kitty’s Kitten by Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1927
Tom Leaves School by Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1927
Cap’n Benny by Henry Lawrence Phillips, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1927
The Camp Across the Road by H.B. Davidson, Sheldon Press, 1927
The White Standard by Eliza F. Pollard, Blackie & Son, 1927 (re-issue)
Peterina on the Rescue Trail by E.E. Cowper, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1928
The Guide Adventurers by Margaret Middleton, Blackie & Son, 1929
The New Centre Forward by Ethel Talbot, Collins, 1929
Another Pair of Shoes by Jessie Leckie Herbertson, Sheldon Press, 1929
The Channings by Mrs Henry Wood, Oxford University Press, 1929 (re-issue)
The Battlefield Treasure by F. Bayford Harrison, Blackie & Son, 1929 (re-issue)
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Blackie & Son, 1930 (re-issue)
Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas, Blackie & Son, 1930 (re-issue)
Tales of Beasts and Birds by various authors, Gresham Publishing Co., 1930 (with other artists)
Playing the Game! A Public School Story by Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1931 (re-issue)
The Windmill Guides by Violet Mary Methley, Blackie & Son, 1931
The Makeeshift Patrol: A Story of Girl Guides by H.B. Davidson, S.P.C.K., 1932
The Oakhill Guide Company by Felicity Keith, Blackie & Son, 1933
The Girls of Mystery Gorge by E.E. Cowper, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1933
The Holiday Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1933 (with C.E. & H.M. Brock)
Warne’s Book of Nursery Tales, Frederick Warne & Co., 1933 (with other artists)
Good Yarns for Boys by various authors, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1933 (with other artists)
Mystery Camp by Violet Methley, Blackie & Son, 1934
The City of Death: A Story of Mexico by Oliver Barton, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1934
The Canadian Family Robinson: A Modern Tale of the Shipwreck and the Subsequent Adventures of a Family by Grace E.P. Leonard, “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1935
Our Kiddies’ Tales by various authors, William Walker & Sons, 1935 (with other artists)
Pulling Templestone Together by R.A.H. Goodyear, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1936
The Mystery of Mingo by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1936
Two Boys in Australia by Roger Burns, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1936
How Judy Passed Her Tests by H.B. Davidson, Sheldon Press, 1936
The Marigolds Make Good by Catherine Christian, Blackie & Son, 1937
Robber Castle by Dinah Pares, George G. Harrap & Co., 1937
Orinoco Trail by Stanton Hope, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1937
Dog-Face by John Easton, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1937
Malachi’s Cove by Anthony Trollope, re-told by Margaret E. Johnson, Oliver & Boyd, 1937
More Stories of Robin Hood by Albert Sydney Hornby, George G. Harrap & Co., 1938
Dick o’ the Fens by George Manville Fenn, Blackie & Son, 1940 (re-issue)
For the Little Ones by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1941 (with other artists)

Dates not known:
Everyday Stories by various authors, Gresham Publishing Co., (with H.M. Brock & H.R. Miller)   
Loran Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by R.D. Blackmore, Blackie & Son,
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Thomas Nelson & Sons,
The Children of the New Forest
The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade, Blackie & Son,
Two’s Company by Anne Gannell, Blackie & Son, (with other artists)
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Blackie & Son, (re-issue)
Put to the Proof by Mrs Henry Clarke, Blackie & Son, (re-issue) (with W. Dodds)

Friday, March 08, 2019

Juan Arancio (1931-2019)

Argentinean comic artist and painter, Juan Arancio, died of respiratory failure at a hospital in his home town of Santa Fe on March 1, 2019, aged 87. In the UK he is best known for his work on 'Shako', the early 2000AD strip which pitted a CIA hunter, Jake Falmuth, against a polar bear with a taste for human flesh that has swallowed a deadly germ-filled capsule. Arancio's opening episode to the strip set the tone, as Shako sinks his teeth into the pilot of a downed US military plane and bites his head off. 

In the tradition of Action's 'Hook Jaw', 'Shako' was created by Pat Mills and John Wagner as an idea potentially for the debut issue of 2000AD, but shelved it until issue 20, with Arancio producing the art for the first four issues.

Juan Arancio was born in Santa Fe, Argentina, on August 24, 1931, and remained a resident of that city his whole life. Self-taught, he won a competition organised by a local daily newspaper with one of his childhood creations, 'El Gaucho Saverio'.

Debuting in 1950, Arancio became famous as an illustrator and artist working from his own scripts for comics such as Privateering Pete, Trinchera, Puño de Hierro, Poncho Negro and Vida Escolar; he also produced westerns for Interval, El Tony and Anteojito y Clarin. At the same time, he adapted classic novels by Héctor Pedro Blomberg, Lucio V. Mansilla, Alberto Vaccarezza, Emilio Salgari, Julio Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexandre Defoe, Jorge Luis Borges; amongst the novels he adapted were Cadazdores de Ballenas, Misterios de la Jungla Negra, El Quijote, La Conquista del Desierto, Una Excursión a los Indios Ranqueles, Dick Turpin and, on numerous occasions, Martin Fierro, the famous Argentinian gaucho. One of his adaptations originally published by Editorial Colmegna in Santa Fe won an award in Philadelphia.

Arancio worked with Hector Oesterheld on ‘Patria Vieja’ for Hora Cero in 1960, following the departure of Carlos Roume, and on ‘Santos Bravo for Hora Cero Extro (1961).

Outside of his native country, as well as ‘Shako’ (1977), Arancio drew the western ‘Timber Lee’ (1978-80) for Scorpio Editorial (Milan, Italy) and for Walt Disney Studios (USA). His illustrations appeared in Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia, Rhodesia, Canada, the Dominican Republic and New Zealand. He also illustrated a version of Don Segundo Sombra for Japan.

He has won numerous awards and prizes, dating back to 1954 when a painting won a prize from the Museo Municipal de Artes Visuales. He was awarded the Distinción Bienal at Lucca in 1976 and was appointed a Ciudadano Ilustre de la Ciudad de Santa Fe [Illustrious citizen of the city of Santa Fe] in 1991.

Since the early 1980s, Arancio had concentrated on painting  and exhibitions of his work have been produced in Spain, Germany, Sicily, Canada and the USA. His oil paintings hang in the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, the Museo Provincial de Artes Visuales and elsewhere.