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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Roy McAdorey - Air Ace covers

I promised to mention the War Libraries book at regular intervals and I've rather let it slide for a while.

When we were compiling the book, we were fortunate to have access to a lot of the original cover art (some of which will be appearing in the book) and I thought it might be interesting to add something about one or two of the covers not covered in the introduction.

For some years before he died I had the good fortune to correspond with Roy McAdorey, a one-time art-bodger on the war libraries. He'd previously worked for Eagle before transferring to Air Ace Picture Library in 1960 when it was under the editorship of Arthur Bouchier.

One of Roy's jobs was to make minor (and occasionally major) changes to artwork and, to quote one of his letters, "Arthur Bouchier got me to alter a lot of covers, e.g. U-Boat position, redrawn aircraft ... Got complimented on all this by Alf Wallace [the managing editor of the group] who decided to move me on to War Library." This move came in 1961, but Roy was involved in dozens of the early titles and some of his handiwork can be seen on many of the covers.

With the eighth issue, Air Ace adopted a slightly different style of cover from its companion War Picture Library by adding a white border along two edges, usually with part of the artwork breaking into this white space, a formula that was used on quite a few covers over the next few months.

For Air Ace no.10, 'Objective Destroyed', Roy was asked to add a small map with a pencil pointing at a target to the original Graham Coton artwork. For Air Ace no. 44, 'Coastal Command' (see top), Arthur Bouchier was unhappy with the original artwork by Nino Caroselli, considering the submarine to be too small and distant and Roy had to completely redraw it.

Above is the printed version of Air Ace no. 43, 'Killer Instinct', almost certainly the work of Allessandro Biffignandi. However, the pilot in the corner was painted by Roy in poster colours to replace the original head which Arthur Bouchier disliked. The change is rather more obvious on the original artboard, below, where you can see part of the artwork has also been extended.

All the lettering for the Air Ace covers was produced on acetate by Fleetway's Central Art Department.

You'll find many more examples of original artwork in the book which can now be ordered from The Book Palace here. We're expecting the first (advance) copies to arrive in a couple of weeks and the book will be on sale in August.

(All images for Air Ace are © IPC Media.)

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