Monday, November 21, 2011

World of Wonder: part 1

Carlo Jacono
Over the next few days I'm planning to run some illustrations from the pages of World of Wonder, an educational weekly that appeared between 1970 and 1975. Edited in London by Bob Bartholomew, the paper was intended to be a cross-European magazine and was designed in such a way that the text could be easily removed and translated text could be dropped in. The results were printed in Holland and then distributed in the UK by Fleetway.

World of Wonder has always been seen as the younger, weaker sibling of Look and Learn, already well established as Britain's best-selling children's magazine. Even in 1970 it was still selling 150,000 copies a week, although sales were falling; for a publisher, this is often the very reason for putting out a new title. A whole new audience of baby boomers had reached the target age by the late 1960s; Fleetway put out Tell Me Why to meet this audience, again with the idea of producing a paper that could be published around Europe. Packaged outside of Fleetway, Tell Me Why had a broader and more interesting European focus not found in Look and Learn and for its 85 issues was probably the better magazine. However, it may be for this reason that it did not find its audience in the UK and it was decided to bring the paper in-house and make it a little more Look and Learn-like.

I'm lucky enough to have a pretty good run of World of Wonder — not a complete run by any means, but a good stack of them — and recently had to look through all the issues I had. Now, I was one of the people who was a bit sniffy about the quality of the magazine, so I was pleasantly surprised at how often I was stumbling across great artwork. I don't know the names of all the artists (frustratingly few signatures appear over the 258 issues) but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate the talent on show. I'm hoping that readers might be able to name some names for me.

This is a roughly chronological selection and somewhat random. The criteria for inclusion is simply that I've looked through an issue and these are the illustrations that I went back to take a second look at — think of it as a representative selection of what I consider some of the best artwork. Hopefully you'll also enjoy this trip through the pages of the magazine.

Wilf Hardy?
Alessandro Biffignandi
Alessandro Biffignandi
J H Batchelor?
(* World of Wonder © Look and Learn Ltd.)


  1. Any chance you could scan and show a couple of episodes of a sci-fi serial that ran in the early issues? "A Leap Into The Future", or somesuch...I do recall being mighty impressed by that (we had World of Wonder in the school library).

  2. Hi B,

    I don't have the complete series but I'll scan a couple of episodes for you.

  3. Going to have to dig my copies of Tell Me Why and WoW out of the loft - happy days!

  4. I have a load of these going if anybody is interested in taking them off my hands. I have an ad up on Gumtree:

    They are practically worthless and not exactly mint so I am giving them away. It would be a shame to send them off for recycling so I'd like to find them a new home.

    1. I’d like them please!

  5. I have some original drawings, anyone interested?



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