Sunday, November 27, 2011

David Langdon (1914-2011)

David Langdon OBE, who died on 18 November aged 97, came to prominence as a cartoonist in the 1930s drawing for Punch but his most famous character was born out of the wartime blackout. Mr. Billy Brown of London Town was a pinstriped, bowler-hatted gentleman who, in a series of posters on safety issues for London Transport, everything from taking care when you step off a bus in the dark to calling out the names of stations and stops on train and bus roots (impossible to see when windows were blacked out). A 1943 campaign to promote the idea of people standing on the right of escalators offered a £10 prize for adding further lines to the couplet "Here's another bright suggestion / Standing RIGHT prevents congestion." The winner added, "On the right it's 'Stand at Ease' / On the left it's 'Quick March,' please."

Born in London on 24 February 1914, Langdon was the son of Bennett Langdon and his wife Bess. Educated at Davenport Grammar School, where he studied design and decoration, he joined the Architects Department of the London County Council in 1931.

After publishing cartoons in the staff magazine he began to send out his work to other publications, selling to Time and Tide and the Sunday Referee before breaking into Punch in 1937. He was the magazine's most prolific contributor over the next few years and a collection of his cartoons appeared as early as 1941.That same year Langdon, having served as an Executive Officer with the London Rescue Service, joined the R.A.F. as a pilot officer. He became a Squadron Leader in 1945 but spent his time as a cartoonist and edited the Royal Air Force Journal in 1945-46, where he continued to feature Billy Brown.

After being demobbed, Langdon continued to contribute to Punch and contributed heavily to Lilliput and the Sunday Pictorial (later the Sunday Mirror), which published a column of his cartoons each week from 1948. His contributions also appeared in Reynolds News, The Evening Standard and, from 1952, The New Yorker; he also drew the strips 'Professor Puff and His Dog Wuff' (1953-57) and 'Simple Simon' (1957-58) for Eagle. He drew caricatures of High Court Judges for Sweet and Maxwell (1956) and of racing celebrities for Ladbrokes' Racing Calendar (1959-94). In later years he was also the official artist to Centre International Audio-Visuel d’Etudes et de Recherches, St Ghislain, Belgium (1970-75). Exhibitions of his work have been held in Ottawa, Oxford, New York, Lille and London.

He continued to work for the Sunday Mirror until 1990 and for Punch until it closed in 1992. He was awarded the OBE in 1988 and elected FRSA that same year. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cartoon Art Trust in 2001.

Langdon married April Yvonne Margaret Sadler-Phillips in 1955. They had three children: Alison B., Richard B. and Miles D. Langdon.

His books included Home Front Lines, 1941; All Buttoned Up, 1944; Meet Me Inside, 1946; Slipstream (with R. B. Raymond), 1946; The Way I See It, 1947; Hold Tight There!, 1949; Let’s Face It, 1951; Wake Up and Die (with David Clayton), 1952; Look at You, 1952; All in Fun, 1953; Laugh with Me, 1954; More in Fun, 1955; Funnier Still, 1956; A Banger for a Monkey, 1957;  The Puff and Wuff Adventure Book, 1957; Langdon At Large, 1958; I’m Only Joking, 1960; Punch with Wings, 1961; How to Play Golf and Stay Happy, 1964; David Langdon’s Casebook, 1969; How To Talk Golf, 1975; Punch in the Air, 1983; and Soccer—It’s a Funny Old Game, 1998.

Obituaries: The Guardian (23 November), The Independent (2 December), Daily Telegraph (8 December).


  1. Another link with the past has gone - thanks for that, Steve.

  2. David Langdon was a favorite -- I read his cartoons in both Punch and the American Saturday Evening Post where he was a regular.



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