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Friday, June 29, 2007

Jeff Wilkinson (1924-2007)

Kevin Patrick has posted news that Jeff Wilkinson, a British-born artist who worked primarily in Australia, died on 22 June 2007, aged 83. Born in Yorkshire in 1924, Wilkinson served with the Royal Navy during World War II. On extended shore leave in Sydney in 1945, he applied to stay permanently and transferred to the Australian Royal Navy.

After the war he found success drawing adventure and humour strips for H. J. Edwards and K. G. Murray before creating 'The Phantom Ranger' for Frew Publications in 1949. The character was hugely successful, spawning his own radio show in 1952. By then, 'Wilkie' as he was known had moved on to create 'The Shadow', 'Kid Champion' and other characters as well as drawing episodes of many other strips. In the 1950s he drew 'Gimlet', based on the character created by Capt. W. E. Johns.

Wilkinson left the comics industry in the early 1960s and became a designer of came0-styled jewellery. However, he was to return when, in the early 1980s, he left Australia for England and began working for IPC Magazines. Leaving them in 1987, he continued to work for D. C. Thomson. Already in his sixties, Wilkinson also began teaching art for local adult education classes, only retiring in 2004 at the age of 80. Wilkinson lived in West Sussex.

(* Much of the above was derived from an interview with Jeff Wilkinson by Kevin Patrick to be found here. Kevin has also penned a brief obituary which appears here. The image is also from Kevin's blog.)

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