Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A A Dixon

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

A.A. Dixon was a talented painter and illustrator who was at home in a variety of genres – he was particularly well-known as an painter of religious scenes, and he also illustrated a wide range of children’s books, including girls’ school and adventure stories and fairy stories, and he was in great demand as an illustrator of re-issues of “classic” novels.

He was born in St. Pancras, London, on 8 May 1872 and baptized, as Arthur Augustus Dixon, on 25 September 1872 at All Saints Church, St. Pancras. His father, Richard Dixon (1839-1887), was a grainer and marbler, originally from Darlington, Durham, who had moved to London in the 1860s and in 1869 married Rosa Sparrow (1840-1901), the daughter of Frederick Sparrow, a former painter and decorator who had become a private landlord. Arthur was the second of their four children, his siblings being Frederick Richard (born on 8 May 1870), Herbert Walter (31 October 1876), and Charles (19 May 1879).

At the time of the 1871 census, Richard, Rosa and their first child were living at 5 Huntly Street, St. Pancras, where they lived until around 1878, when they moved to 46 Huntly Street. By the time of Richard’s death, on 15 September 1887, the family had moved to 72 Islip Street, Kentish Town. Rosa and her sons subsequently moved to 26 Arthur Road, Highbury – at the time of the 1891 census, Frederick was working as grainer and marbler, and Herbert was working as a commercial clerk. Arthur Augustus was recorded as an illustrator and artist, although he was, at that time, studying at Camden School of Art. In 1893, he was awarded a local scholarship, which enabled him to spend three years at almost any other art school, although whether or not he took this up, and if so where he studied, is not known.

He was, however, developing into a skilled painter, and went on to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art in 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900 and 1909. He also exhibited with the Royal Society of British Artists, and was a member of the Camden Arts Club.

By 1897, the Dixon family had moved to 4 Gatcombe Road, Islington. Two years later, Arthur Augustus married Cecil Elsie Sowerby in Steyning, Sussex – she was the daughter of Charles James Sowerby, a bank clerk, and had been baptized at on 9 June 1867 at St. Mary’s Church, Barnes, Surrey. She was herself an artist and sculptor (1891 census). They went on to have two children: Elsie, born on 21 May 1900, and Arthur Cecil, born on 10 April 1902.

Dixon’s career as an illustrator appears to have begun in 1899, when, amongst one or two other books, he illustrated an edition of a Charles Dickens story, The Holly Tree, for Ernest Nister. Over the following ten years he went on to illustrate around 20 books for the firm, while also working for other publishers, in particular Raphael Tuck & Sons, for whom he illustrated a number of books including tales re-written from Shakespeare, Longfellow and Tennyson, and fairy stories. One of his best-known works from this time was for L.L. Weedon’s Child Characters from Dickens (Ernest Nister, 1905), for which he provided 6 colour plates and 70 halftone illustrations.

He also began working for Blackie & Son, for whom he went on to illustrate several girls’ stories, including four of Angela Brazil girls’ school stories, and two by Elsie J. Oxenham.  He also illustrated an edition of Tom Brown’s Schooldays for James Nisbet & Co. in 1903.

He continued to work with Blackie & Son until the mid-1950s, illustrating a variety of books including several volumes of religious works written by Theodora Wilson Wilson, a noted pacifist and Quaker. Throughout his career, he was used by Collins to illustrate re-issues of classic novels by authors such as Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, W.M. Thackeray, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. He also provided illustrations for several volumes of poetry, including collections by Matthew Arnold, John Keats and Lord Tennyson. (These were all issued in Collins’s Illustrated Pocket Classics series, which was launched in 1903, and were generally undated). He also designed illustrated endpapers for many Collins books. He also illustrated re-issues of classic novels for Blackie & Son, Nister, Anthony Treherne, and the Oxford University Press.

He appears to have done very little work for periodicals, with only a handful of illustrations for Pearson’s Magazine and The Sunday at Home identified. His work also occasionally appeared in annuals such as Collins’ Children’s Annual, The Schoolgirls’ Bumper Book, and Father Tuck’s Annual.

In 1909, one of his paintings. “The Sleeping Minstrel”, was issued as a print (and as a postcard) by Bovril Ltd., and given away in return for coupons from Bovril products. The same happened with another picture in 1912. By this time, Dixon had been exhibiting throughout the country, and this, coupled with his work as a book illustrator, meant that his name was familiar to many people.

By 1903 he had moved to Sussex, to The Firs, Shipley, near Petworth (where his son Arthur was born). By 1911, he had moved again, to The Briars, Shooters Way, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. At the time of the 1939 Register, he was living at 22 Greenway, Berkhamtsed, still working as an artist and book illustrator, although his output had radically declined. His wife died at 254 High Street, Berkhamsted (although her home address was given as 22 Greenway) on 22 September 1955.  Arthur Augustus Dixon died on 30 May 1959 at 22 Greenway, leaving an estate valued at just over £5,173 (around £104,000 in today’s terms). Probate was granted to his son, Arthur Cecil, a veterinary surgeon.

As an illustrator, his work was perhaps best summed-up in Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethait’s Dictionary of British Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century: “His book illustrations, mainly in full colour or half tone, were conventional and prosaic with sentimental overtones, but generally competent.”


Books illustrated by A.A. Dixon
The Holly Tree by Charles Dickens, Ernest Nister, 1899
Cross Purposes; or, The Deanes of Dean's Croft by Emma Marshall, Griffith, Farran, Browne & Co., 1899
Three Little Spades by Anna Bartlett Warner, James Nisbet & Col., 1899(?) (re-issue)
A Big Temptation by L.T. Meade (and other authors), Ernest Nister, 1900
Bruno and Bimba: The Story of Some Little People by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1900
To Pay the Price by Silas Hocking, Frederick Warne & Co., 1900
The King’s Butterfly by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1900
Sunny Tales by Nora Hopper and other authors, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1901(?) (with other artists)
Guardian Angels: Poems and Stories by Nora Hopper, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1901 (with other artists)
A Princess’s Token by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1902
To the Rescue: A Tale of a London ‘Prentice Boy by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1902
Country Sketches from “Our Village” by Mary Russell Mitford, Blackie & Son, 1902
My Lady Joanna by Evelyn Everett-Green, James Nisbet & Co., 1902
The Secret of the Everglades: A Story of Adventure in Florida by Bessie Marchant, Blackie & Son, 1903
The Mystery of the Pine Wood, and The Hollow Tree House by L. Molesworth, Ernest Nister, 1903
The Witch Maid by L.T. Meade, James Nisbet & Co., 1903
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by An Old Boy (Thomas Hughes), James Nisbet & Co., 1903 (b & w frontis. & 2 b & w plates – a later edition had a colour frontis. & 3 col. Plates, and later editions had just a colour frontis.) (re-issues)
Child Characters from Dickens retold by L.L. Weedon, Ernest Nister, 1905
Ivanhoe: A Romance by Sir Walter Scott, Anthony Treherne & Co., 1905 (re-issue)
Christmas at Bracebridge Hall by Washington Irving, Ernest Nister, 1905 (re-issue)
Cranford by Mrs Gaskell, Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
Little Lady Val by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1905
The Swiss Family Robinson by J. Wyss (trans. By M. Wiss), Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
Mistress Matchett’s Mistake by Emma Marshall, James Nisbet & Co., 1905 (re-issue)
Cranford by Mrs Gaskell, Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ernest Nister, 1906 (re-issue)
Grandmother and Christmas Eve by Mary D. Brine, Ernest Nister, 1906 (re-issue)
Songs of Faith and Hope, Ernest Nister, 1906 (with other artists)
A Daughter of the Ranges: A Story of Western Canada by Bessie Marchant, Blackie & Son, 1906
The Gold of Chickare by Susan Warner, James Nisbet & Co., 1906(?)
Brightest and Best: Lights for Little Lives by Mrs H.A. Farley, Collins, 1906
In a Land of Beasts by Evelyn Everett-Green, Collins, 1906
Mother’s Little Man by Mary D. Brine, Ernest Nister, 1906(?)
The Fortunes of Philippa by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1907
The Boy Hero of Erin: The Story of Cuchulainn and the Champion of the Red Branch of Ulster retold by Charles Squire, Blackie & Son, 1907
Takes of a Fairy Court by Andrew Lang, Collins, 1907
Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ernest Nister, 1907 (re-issue)
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club by Charles Dickens, Oxford University Press, 1907 (re-issue)
Pamela’s Hero: A Tale of the Gordon Riots by Pamela Moore, Blackie & Son, 1908
The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley, Ernest Nister, 1908
Faith Gartney’s Girlhood by Mrs A.D.T. Whitney, Blackie & Son, 1908 (re-issue)
Fairy Tales by Edouard Laboulaye, Ernest Nister, 1909
Good Comrades: A Story of a Little German Boy and His Dog by M.S.S., Blackie & Son, 1909
The Third Class at Miss Kaye’s by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1909
The Red Cap of Liberty by L.T. Meade, James Nisbet & Co., 1909
The Nicest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1910
Fairy Tales by Wilhelm Hauff, trans. by L.L. Weedon, Ernest Nister, 1910
The King’s Lige: A Story of the Days of Charles I by H.A. Hinkson, Blackie & Son, 1910
Tales from the Arabian Knights, Children’s Press, 1910(?) (with other artists) (re-issue)
The All Fairy Book, Collins, 1910(?) (with other artists)
The Manor House School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1911
The Red Knight: A Tale of the Days of King Edward III by G.I. Witham, Blackie & Son, 1911
The House of the Five Poplars by Lucy Crump, Blackie & Son, 1911
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam trans. by Edward Fitzgerald, Cassell & Co., 1911
A Search for a Secret by G.A. Henty, Gall & Inglis, 1911 (re-issue)
Betty’s Next Term by Lilian F. Wevill, Blackie & Son, 1912
Terry the Girl Guide by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1912
The Sultan: A Romance of the Harem of Abdul Hamid by Djelal Noury Bey, Cassell & Co., 1912
The Basket of Flowers: A Tale for the Young by Christoph von Schmid, Blackie & Son, 1912(?)
Shakespeare Stories for Children by E. Nesbit, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1912(?) (with other artists)
Children’s Stories from Longfellow by Doris Ashley, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914 (with other artists)
Children’s Stories from Tennyson by Nora Chesson, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914 (with other artists)
Granny’s Wonderful Chair by Frances Browne, Blackie & Son, 1914 (re-issue)
Schoolgirls and Scouts by Elsie J. Oxenham, Collins, 1914
Stories from the Bible by T.W. Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1914
Fairy Fancies, Collins, 1914(?)
When Aunt Lil Took Charge by May Wynne, Blackie & Son, 1915
Tony’s Chums: A Tale of a Summer Holiday by May Wynne, Blackie & Son, 1915
The Saviour of the World by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1915
Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Doris Ashley, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1915(?)
Great men and Women of the Bible by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1915(?)
A Book of Miracles by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie Son, 1915(?)
The Boyhood of Jesus by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1915(?)
Things will take a Turn by Beatrice Harraden, Blackie & Son, 1915 (with J.H. Bacon) (re-issue)
My Fairy Tale Book, Blackie & Son, 1916
The Precious Gift: Bible Stories for Children by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Co., 1916
Rulers of the Bible: Scripture Stories for Children by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1916
Children's Stories from Russian Fairy Tales and Legends trans. and adapted by Seraphima Pulma, Raphael Tuck &Sons, 1917
The Children’s Jesus by E.B. Trist, S.P.C.K., 1919
The Abbey Girls by Elsie J. Oxenham, Collins, 1920
The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for Children by Charles Kingsley, Blackie & Son, 1920
The Child’s Life of Christ by H.R. Haweis, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1921
Moses and the Promised Land: Scripture Stories for Children by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1922(?)
A Baby’s Life of Jesus Christ by Mary F. Rolt, S.P.C.K., 1923
Fairy Tales for the Schoolroom, Gresham Publishing Co., 1923 (with other artists)
The Candle of the North; Stories from the Venerable Bede by C.M.D. Jones, A.R. Mowbray & Co., 1924
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1924 (with H.M. Brock)
The Happy Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1925 (with other artists)
The Story of the Golden Fleece by M.W. Jennings, Blackie & Son, 1928
Two Little Gardeners edited by Mrs Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1929
Tales from History by N. Niemeyer, Collins, 1932
That Aggravating Schoolgirl by Grace Stebbing, James Nisbet & Co., 1930 (re-issue)
The Little Ones’ Lord, S.P.C.K., 1943
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by An Old Boy (Thomas Hughes), J.W. Butcher, (?) (col. fronts. from Nisbet editions)
Pictures from the Old Testament, Blackie & Son, 1953
Pictures from the New Testament, Blackie & Son, 1954

Re-issues of classic novels by Collins – dates sometimes uncertain or unknown
The Professor at the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1905(?)
Henry Esmond by W.M. Thackeray, 1905
A Noble Life by Mrs Craik, 1905(?)
North and South by Mrs Gaskell, 1905(?)
Hard Cash by Charles Reade 1905(?)
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1905(?)
Stories and Sketches by Charles Dickens, 1905(?)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 1906
Reprinted Pieces by Charles Dickens, 1906
American Notes by Charles Dickens, 1906(?)
Christmas Books by Charles Dickens, 1907
The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1907
The Last Days of Pompeii by Lord Lytton, 1908
Middlemarch by George Eliot, 1908
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, 1908
The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M. Yonge, 1908(?)
The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold, 1908(?)
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, 1910(?)
The Poetical Works of John Keats, 1910(?)
The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas, 1910(?)
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, 1910(?)
Hereward the Wake by Charles Kingsley, 1910(?)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, 1910(?)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, 1910(?)
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, 1910(?)
Mona Maclean, Medical Student by Graham Travers, 1910
The Uncommercial Traveller by Charles Dickens, 1914
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Collins, 1915(?)
Roundabout Papers by W.M. Thackeray, 1918(?)
John Halifax, Gentleman by Mrs Craik, 1920(?)
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 1920(?)
Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo, 1920(?)
Ungava: A Tale of Esquimaux Land by R.M. Ballantyne, 1920(?)
Poetic Gems by Matthew Arnold
The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations: A Family Cronicle by Charlotte M. Yonge
Gems from Tennyson by Alfred Tennyson

Friday, June 22, 2018

Comic Cuts - 22 June 2018

This will probably be on the short side as I've spent some of the time I would normally spend writing this putting together an obituary for Jim Hansen, who died on Tuesday. Knowing very little about him, it took rather longer than I intended; at the same time it wasn't as comprehensive as I would have hoped, but that's often the way. Scroll down to see it if you haven't already.

I've almost completed the latest essay in the Forgotten Authors series, revisiting a piece I wrote in 2008 when nobody had heard of James Redding Ware. I commented at the time that he was likely to be remembered for only one of his books and I'm amazed to say that interest in him rose  exponentially in the next few years thanks to a mention in Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, an essay in the Times Literary Supplement by Judith Flanders, and reprints of two of his books in 2012 and 2013.

Thanks, too, to the increasing number of Victorian newspapers that have been digitized, I've also managed to track down far more detail about his other books and plays, firmed up information about his family tree and discovered a curious report about him being jailed at the age of 16. I'm still finishing the last bits, and then will be taking a look at finalising the contents of what will be the fourth Forgotten Authors volume.

The Ken Reid Power Pack reprint has achieved its goal of raising $10,000 through the IndieGoGo campaign I've been talking about these past couple of weeks. Hopefully that means the August deadline for publication can now be met. I'm really looking forward to seeing the books. Yes, I wrote an introduction to one of the volumes, so I recently had to re-read Frankiestein and Jasper the Grasper, but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy re-reading them again (and again).

There hasn't been time for much else. The weather has been so muggy, I haven't been able to sleep; instead, I have been listening to an old adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy. Listening to the history of the Galactic Empire I was struck by how close it resembles what is happening in the world nowadays. Hari Seldon's discovery of Psychohistory – mathematical formulae that can predict the future course of the Galactic Empire &ndashl is effectively the same thing as what many companies are doing now... collecting thousands of data points on billions of people in order to understand and predict how they will act and react. Not as individuals necessarily but as a group. Target a million people and hope to influence even 5% of them and you can swing an election.

Hari Seldon predicts a series of crises (known as Seldon Crises) which are inevitable due to the nature of humanity; on a smaller scale, it should have been obvious to anyone that the banking crisis of 2008 was inevitable and predictable.

In Foundation and Empire, the second novel in the series, a mutant called The Mule appears, an unpredictable event unforeseen by Seldon. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Donald Trump. Where's that Second Foundation when you need it to save the world?

We've just finished The Gifted, a Fox TV X-Men spin-off that appeared in 2017-18. While the series developed quite nicely over its 13 episodes, there were moments where you just wanted to shout at the characters (which we do, sometimes). A character might turn angrily on another and say "You don't lie to people who are your family," conveniently forgetting that, a couple of episodes earlier, they were on the receiving end of precisely the same complaint, at which time "We did it [lied] for your protection." So... is it OK to lie or not?

Still, it was better than The Inhumans and we've still got Legion season 2 to watch, although we're taking a break from superheroes to watch some robots... Westworld. We watched the season two opening episode and I'd forgotten half of what was going on because it has been eighteen months since we watched the first season.

I want to give a quick mention to a new podcast which I've just discovered. It's called Rule of Three and it's basically comedians Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris talking to a guest about something that has influenced them. So far I've listened to John Finnemore (on On The Hour), Danielle Ward (on Bottom) and Isy Suttie (on Love, Nina, the biography of Nina Stibbe about her life with literary types while she was nannying in London), all of which have been fascinating. I heard about it because one episode features Viz artist Davey Jones discussing the career of Leo Baxendale, but the other episodes looked so interesting I subscribed immediately and have been treating myself to them in chronological order. I'm sure you'll find it from your usual podcast provider. They have a web page, which is worth a visit if you want to find out more.

(My podcast provider is iTunes, which occasionally throws a mental fit. This week, it tried to download every single 2000AD Thrill-Cast. Now, however much I enjoy the cheery tones of Molch-R, having sixty or so episodes downloading, one after another, is a pain in the backside. It takes up bandwidth, it takes up hard-drive space that I always desperately need. This isn't the fault of 2000AD or Rebellion, but of iTunes... which once tried to download 150 episodes of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. The first I knew of it was warning messages telling me that I had no space left on my hard-drive while I was downloading something that I needed for work. Again, not the fault of Richard Herring, the British Comedy Guide or anyone other than iTunes.

The only way I've been able to resolve the problem is to unsubscribe, delete the podcast (including episodes that I might not have listened to) and then re-subscribe. UPDATE [9:20 am, Friday] iTunes has figured out my ruse. Currently it has downloaded six early episodes of the show and from the look of things is planning to download a further fifteen from 2015. I think I'll just have to give up, let them download and then delete them. *Sigh*

And that's my lot. No scans this week, but I do still have some comedy flyers left over from a previous scanning session. Actually, I did screw up slightly last weekend. I had this pile of books sitting a couple of feet away, and thought, "I've got to do something about them," because they had been there for months. On Saturday I plonked myself down and started scanning. Twenty books later it suddenly struck me that I'd scanned them before. And I had, back in 2014. I'd moved them aside to get to some other books (most of my shelves are two deep with paperbacks!) and hadn't put them back on the shelf, so the pile had just sat there begging to be scanned.

Clearly my brain has reached full capacity and every new memory is over-writing old memories.

Comedy Flyers (5)


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Jim Hansen (1948-2018)

Jim Hansen, a forty-year veteran of British comics during which time he drew two of the most iconic figures in British humour comics, Buster and Dennis the Menace, died on Tuesday, 19 June, aged 69.

Born James Hansen in Ndola, Zambia, on 15 July 1948, he began working in British comics in the 1970s. His first published strip was ‘Hot Rod’ in Whizzer & Chips, but he quickly established himself as a ‘ghost’ for Mike Lacey, taking over or filling-in on strips such as ‘Shiner’ and ‘The Bumpkin Billionaires’ in Whizzer & Chips and ‘The Winners’ in Jackpot. He was a regular contributor to Buster where he drew ‘S.O.S. Squad’, ‘The Winners’, ‘Ricky Rainbow’ (imported from Nipper) and then a decade-long run on ‘Buster’ in the 1990s, drawing countless covers for the comic until its demise.

In 1993, Hansen began drawing for The Dandy, his strips during the 1990s and early 2000s including ‘First Class’, ‘The Verminator’, ‘Little Boots Cassidy’, ‘Jak’, ‘P5’, ‘Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber’ and ‘Dreadlock Holmes’. For The Beano he drew ‘Gordon Bennett’ and was and occasionally drew ‘Dennis the Menace’ from 2002, becoming its regular artist (along with Nigel Parkinson) between 2004 and 2010.

Hansen began an association with Wallace & Gromit when he illustrated five titles for Titan Books (2003-07); he was also one of the artists who worked on the strip when it became a daily in The Sun (2010-12).

He wrote and illustrated a number of books (with John Burns colouring), including Creating Superheroes and Comic Book Characters (2005), Creating Manga Superheroes (2006) and Drawing Dragons (2006). He also illustrated the Smiffy books by Chris Smith and the Agent Alfie series by Justin Richards.

Peter Gray has described him as having a distinctive, energetic style, and having “one of the best humour artists in the business.”  David Leach, who worked with Hansen on ‘Wallace & Gromit’, wrote on Facebook, “He had wonderful drawing style and I loved his sense of energy … He was an editor’s dream to work with.”

Although best known for his humour work, Hansen also drew ‘Biker Mice From Mars’ (1995) and a 16-page comic for DC promoting the direct-to-video movie Batman and Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero (1998). In recent years he teamed up with Bambos Georgiou to draw ‘Supercar’ for a one-off promotional edition of TV21 (2014) and on ‘Slash Moron’ for the digital comic Aces Weekly (2014-17).

Hansen is survived by his wife Margaret and two sons.

Lew Stringer has posted a tribute at his Blimey! blog in which he comments that Hansen was "a very versatile artist, able to draw licensed characters as well as traditional humour ones. Definitely one of the best humour artists to have worked in UK comics."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Rebellion Releases - 20 June 2018

Rebellion releases for 20 June 2018.

2000AD Prog 2086
Cover: Rachel Stott
JUDGE DREDD: THE PARADIGM SHIFT by Michael Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: HEAVY IS THE HEAD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: GEEK-CON by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
DURHAM RED: BORN BAD by Alec Worley (w) Lee Carter (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

2000AD Sci-Fi Special 2018
Cover: Tula Lotay (A) / Emily Zeinner (B)
JUDGE DREDD: THE FEELS by Emma Beeby (w) Babs Tarr (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
TYRANNY REX: “DON’T FORGET TO BLAST MY CACHE” by Katy Rex (w) Liana Kangas 9a) Liana Kangas & Gab Contreras (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
ROGUE TROOPER: THE THOUSAND DAYS by Alex De Campi (w) Sam Beck (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
FUTURE SHOCKS: DELIVERY by Tillie Walden (w+a+l)
JUDGE DEATH: DARKNESS DESCENDS by Leah Moore (w) Xulia Vicentes (a) Pippa Mather (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
DEMARCO, P.I.: LOVE REMAINS by Laura Bailey (w) Dani (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
TERROR TALE: THE HOCKEY STICKS OF HELL by Olivia Hicks (w) Abigail Bulmer (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ANDERSON, PSI-DIVISION: SPA DAY by Maura McHugh (w) Emma Vieceli (a) Barbara Nosenzo (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Judge Anderson poster by Marguerite Sauvage

Judge Dredd Megazine 397
Cover: Cliff Robinson / Dylan Teague (colours)
JUDGE DREDD: THIS CORROSION by Michael Carroll (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE RETURNERS: IRMAZHINA by Si Spencer  (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
CHOPPER: WANDERING SOUL by David Baillie (w) Brendan McCarthy (a) Len O'Grady, Brendan McCarthy (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
DEVLIN WAUGH: KISS OF DEATH by Rory McConville (w) Mike Dowling (a) Simon Bowland (l)
TALES FROM THE BLACK MUSEUM: PROPHET OF STOMM by David Baillie (w) Steven Austin (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Features: 2000 AD Sci-Special creators, Nicolo Assirelli interview, Michael Fleisher obituary, Halo Jones
Bagged reprint: LOFTY'S ONE-MAN LUTWAFFE by John Wagner, Pat Mills, Charles Herring (w), Paolo Ongaro, Stanley Houghton (a)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Hot Lead #2 (June 2018)

Justin Marriott runs a number of different magazines based around the collecting of old paperbacks, amongst them Paperback Fanatic, The Sleazy Reader, Men of Violence, Pulp Horror and now, Hot Lead, the first issue of which came out in March.

Here he celebrates the western in a 68-page colour paperback format, the latest issue containing five diverse features written by Steve Myall, Jim O'Brien, Andreas Decker and two from "ghost editor" Paul Bishop, who bookends the issue with articles on Charro!, Harry Whittington's novelisation of the financially successful but critically mauled Elvis Presley movie, and a high-speed look at the history of westerns in comic books in the 1930s to 1950s.

The main meat of the issue is an interview with artist Tony Masero, who painted most of the covers for the Edge and Steele books in the 1970s and 1980s and who continues his association with the Piccadilly Cowboys to this day, still producing covers for reprints of novels that originally appeared forty years ago. He discusses working for New English Library, taking over from Dick Clifton Dey who had set a high standard for the design of these best-selling, post-Spaghetti Western/Clint Eastwood titles, noted for their violence.

It was interesting to learn that Masero is still also writing... I knew he had penned a couple of westerns for Black Horse (Robert Hale) some years ago but had no idea he had also written a couple of thrillers under a pen-name (Michael D'Asti).

"Hombre in Suede Skin" is a lengthy look at the western strips drawn by Frank Bellamy. Bellamy's love of the western is well known to Bellamy fans – he loved Spaghetti Westerns and wanted to draw strip versions of the Dollar movies, he told Dez Skinn in 1973 – and his best work in the genre is probably the trio of western-based strips he drew for 'Garth', a couple of which were reprinted in the Daily Mirror Book of Garth 1975. The article also covers a number of other Bellamy's more personal strips, ranging from 'A Cowboy Story' (1974) to 'Swade' (1976).

The delight of Marriott's various magazines is to discover something new that you wouldn't otherwise come across. In this issue it's a look at the German western series Ronco the Outlaw, which was a western from the publishers of Perry Rhodan, written by a rotating cast of authors for weekly publication. Launched in April 1972, the series went through various alterations and changes over the years but eventually came to an end in 1981 after 493 issues (plus 253 issues of a companion series, Lobo the Loner).

For western fans, this will be a must-have.

Hot Lead #2, June 2018, 68pp, £6.50. Available via Amazon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Frank Insall

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Frank Insall was a minor illustrator of children’s fiction in the 1930s, largely associated with Blackie & Son and the Oxford University Press.

He was born on 2 February 1882 in Bristol, the last-but-one of ten children, and christened Ernest Frank Insall. His father, John (1829-1917) was a grocer and a commercial traveller; his mother was Mary Elizabeth (neé Cave – 1842-1902).  As a child, he sang at local concerts and in church choirs, and his name often appeared in local (Bristol) newspapers between 1889 and 1895. After leaving school he became an apprentice at Mardon, Son & Hall, a Bristol printing and packaging business (later acquired by the Imperial Tobacco Company, becoming responsible for the production of most its cigarette cards). At the time of the 1901 census, living at 38 Longfield Road, Bristol, with his parents and four od his siblings, he described himself as an artist, although he was still an apprentice, albeit a senior one.

On 4 September 1909 he married Eva Mary Lewis (born in Newport, Monmouthshire, in 1883), the daughter of John Lewis, a cabinet maker and upholsterer, at St. Martin’s Church, Newport. They went on to have one child, Valerie Joan, born on 6 November 1910. Frank appears to have been living in Kensington, London, at the time of his marriage, but he and his wife almost immediately settled at “Imvari”, Water Lane, Brislington, Bristol (1911 census).

On 15 November 1915 Frank (recorded as 5 ft. 6 ins. tall) enlisted in the Army Reserve, and on 23 May he joined the 1st S. Midland Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, as a gunner. He was posted to France on 14 September 1917, returning to England in February 1918 before going back to France a month later. He was transferred to the Army Reserve on 5 March 1919, and he left the army in March 1920.

Throughout the war he maintained his membership of the Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Artists, Designers, Engravers and Process Workers, which he had joined in January 1907, giving his craft as a designer. However, he resigned from the Society in July 1920.

In the late 1920s he was living at 9 Edith Villas, Fulham, and had begun his brief career as a children’s illustrator. He had already, in the early/mid 1920s, contributed a few illustrations to The Strand Magazine and Cassell’s Magazine, and he now began working for the Oxford University Press, illustrating a handful of boys’ school stories by Richard Bird, Gunby Hadath and Charles Turley. He also supplied black and white drawings for some of the O.U.P.’s annuals, such as The Big Book of School Stories for Boys (1930-1935), The Great Book of School Stories for Boys, and The Oxford Annual for Boys. He then turned to Blackie & Son and again provided black and white line drawings and the occasional cover for some of its annuals, including A Real Girl’s Book, My Favourite Book, My Own Big Book, The Big Budget for Girls, and Blackie’s Girls’ Annual.

He also supplied illustrations for a handful of books published by Hutchinson & Co. (including Hutchinson’s Girls’ Annual and Hutchinson’s Children’s Annual) and Cassell & Co. In the late 1920s and 1930s he illustrated the occasional story in The Windsor Magazine and The Novel Magazine, and supplied the odd illustration to The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and The Boy’s Own Paper, as well as the occasional colour plate and black and white illustration for Chums.

His career after the 1930s is a mystery. In 1930 he was living at 36 Hayne Road, Beckenham, Kent. His wife Eva died in September 1936, and he re-married very shortly after this, his second wife being Florence Dorothy Josephine Hugill, who lived in Brentford, Middlesex. Three years later, when the 1939 Register was taken on the outbreak of the Second World War, Frank was recorded (with his wife) as an “artist, commercial and illustrating,” living at 45 Forster Road, Beckenham.

There are no records of any illustrations or pictures by him after 1940, so if he continued his career as an artist he worked anonymously, possibly in advertising, packaging, or design. He did produce the occasional painting, mainly it seems in watercolour, although whether he exhibited any of these is not known.

As far as can be ascertained, he died in Honiton, Devon, in 1965. His wife Florence died in Brentford, Hounslow, in 1978.


Books illustrated by Frank Insall
School House v The Rest by Richard Bird, O.U.P., 1928
Carey of Cobhouse by Gunby Hadath, O.U.P., 1928
The Wharton Medal by Richard Bird, O.U.P., 1929
The Left-Hander by Charles Turley, O.U.P., 1930
Happy Pictures by (Anon.), T. Nelson & Sons, 1930
Biddy’s For Ever by Michael Poole, Cassell & Co., 1931
The Quest of the Sleuth Patrol by Vera Marshall, Cassell & Co., 1931
Madcap Petrina by Pat Gordon, Hutchinson & Co., 1934
Betty of Turner House by Joanna Lloyd, Hutchinson & Co., 1935
Jane of the Crow’s Nest by Ierne Orsmby, Hutchinson & Co., 1936
The School in the South by Angela Brazil, Blackie (re-issue)
Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson, William Clowes, (re-issue)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Comic Cuts - 15 June 2018

Rather by surprise, I seem to have another volume of Forgotten Authors almost completed. Having spent so much time on writing up W. N. Willis and then following that with a related piece, I discovered that I had the bulk of another collection completed as I had already written a few other (shorter) essays and they totted up almost to a full book's worth. One piece I had, which was almost completed, just needed the bibliography tidying up (which I did on Monday) and I then jumped straight into another piece that I've wanted to expand upon for some while as new information has come to light since I wrote the original piece in 2008.

Add them all together and I think I have about 65,000 words already, to which I need to add a couple of shorter pieces and an introduction. And I need to do rewrites on all the essays, check spellings, footnotes and links. And lay out the book and write an index. Oh, and I have to design the cover.

Maybe I'm not so close to finishing after all...

I was pleased to see that the IndieGoGo project being run by Irmantas Povilaika jumped following the interview we ran last weekend. When I checked the numbers just now (it's Thursday afternoon as I write) he had raised 95% of his total. This is for the boxed-set of two volumes of Ken Reid reprints entitled The Power Pack and if you haven't backed the project yet, you can get a 23% discount against the final cost of the books by backing the project now rather than waiting until the books are printed.

I haven't much else to add. My trip to dentist (dental hygienist) went fine on Friday. We watched Tomb Raider – the one with Alicia Vikander – on Saturday, which was all the better for being a dialed down version of the Angelina Jolie films from nearly two decades ago, themselves sub-par Indiana Jones adventures with Jolie treating everything from stone statues coming to life to time travel as if it was just another day in the office. The new one is hamstrung by being a re-packaged origin story with endless flashbacks and having a plot that echoes Temple of Doom. Still, it was better than the previous two and if there's a sequel I'll be happy to give it a try.

I've also just finished the 10-episode SyFy series Krypton, set 200 years before the birth of Kal-El (Superman). It's another series where supposedly brilliant people and military leaders react to everything as if they were teenagers so that the teenage audience can understand their actions. Krypton is home to a lot of good-looking British and Irish actors and has a lot of winding corridors and winding streets and winding tunnels. Also, everyone loves Seg-El, grandfather-to-be of Superman: Daron-Vex (who crushed the El family) wants him to marry his daughter; top Kryptonian military warrior Lyta-Zod wants to marry him; Nyssa Vex wants his baby; others fall in line whenever he has a plan. Mind you, I think at some point or other, every one of his friends has either pulled a gun on him or somehow betrayed him.

Random scans... a couple of books relating to tombs, a couple of Tomb Raider ties, and a pair of raiders. It's not so random, these days...

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Commando 5131-5134

Brand new Commando issues are out today! Evade fate and fatalities with Captain Valentine as The Phantom returns, beat the Nazis at their own game in Operation Midnight Sun, solve a series of nefarious murders on the Home Front, and take part in the St Nazaire Raid with plucky Corporal Sam Wilson!

5131: The Phantom’s Revenge
The Phantom is back! But doom is foretold for all those who sail on her. Hunting down a notorious French vessel which is sinking British ships in the Mediterranean, Captain Valentine has more to worry about than the dreaded Captain Ricordeau. Paying five silver coins for his fortune to be read, Valentine never expected that each coin would prophesise a different death in his crew… or that the last one would read destruction for them all!
    Returning to the ‘Phantom’ series, Teague ups the stakes as the story build to its glorious climax when Ricordeau and the final prophecy come together in a dramatic crescendo. Alcazar’s bold lines prove perfect for the ornate but hard-wearing ships.

Story: Dominic Teague
Art: Vicente Alcazar
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5132: Midnight Menace
Surrounded by advancing German troops, Second Lieutenant Matt Rogers and his batman Private Don Arle were isolated from the rest of their squadron. To make matters worse, Rogers gun wasn’t loaded — and Arlen was just waiting to put a bullet in his back. But the pair would have to work together if they were going to uncover what the Nazis were calling “Operation Midnight Sun” and stop them before they could execute it!
    Allan’s classic tale of enemies turned friends is immediately spun on its head, the opening panel offering a glimpse into the story ahead, as Arlen holds his gun aimed at hero Rogers — the turning point of the entire issue.

Story: Allan
Art: CT Rigby
Cover: Penalva
Originally Commando No. 463 (March 1970). Reprinted No. 1323 (June 1979).

5133: The Home Front
Wilhelmina Home of the WAAC had travelled around. She knew a thing or two about car engines and mystery novels, but after her friend is found dead in his factory and his livestock look to be poisoned, Wilhelmina would have to gather all her wits to unravel the strange events unfolding. Little did she know that she would soon be caught up in a plot involving German spies that threatened the population of Britain!
    Accompanying Shane Filer’s twisting story is endearing interior and cover artwork by Carlos Pino. Perfectly pairing the noir themes, Pino’s Wilhelmina is drawn as a feisty Louise Brooks, her hair and outfit always impeccable.

Story: Shane Filer
Art |Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

5134: Deadly Convoy
Plucky Corporal Sam Wilson didn’t always go looking for trouble, but trouble soon found him. He was the kind of guy who’d rather be in the thick of it than on the side-lines, much to the grievances of his squadron. But, when Wilson gets the chance to join the Commandos he signs up immediately, hungry for action!
    Phil Gascoine’s stunning acrylic cover showcases CG Walker’s Tommie hero as the archetypal Commando cover star, his oerlikon machine-gun blazing against the diving stukas, the yellow and red burning on the muted blue of the waves.

Story: CG Walker
Art: CT Rigby
Cover: Phil Gascoine
Originally Commando No. 2760 (May 1994).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD) - 13-14 June 2018

Rebellion releases for 13-14 June 2018.

2000AD Prog 2085
Cover: Cliff Robinson (colours by Dylan Teague)
JUDGE DREDD: THE PARADIGM SHIFT by Michael Carroll (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SKIP TRACER: HEAVY IS THE HEAD by James Peaty (w) Paul Marshall (a) Dylan Teague (c) Simon Bowland (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: GEEK-CON by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
THE FALL OF DEADWORLD by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
DURHAM RED: BORN BAD by Alec Worley (w) Ben Willsher (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Charley's War: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 2 by Pat Mills & Joe Colquhoun
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08621-6, 14 June 2018, 370pp, £19.99 /  $26.99. Available via Amazon.
After killing former comrades as part of a firing squad, Charley has joined the Stretcher Bearers in an attempt to save lives rather than take them. But he soon fi nds himself back behind a rifl e reunited with ‘The Scholar’ as his new offi cer, while an entrenched group of German soldiers engage them in a sniper stand-off! Meanwhile Charley’s younger brother Wilf has his own struggles in the skies, as an observer with the Royal Flying Corps. Charley’s adventures take him through the fi nal months of the War in Europe to the cold land of Russia, under the orders of his unjust superiors and their corrupt interests… This final volume concludes Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s anti-war epic, a monument to the power of comics.

The Complete Future Shocks Volume 1
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-08559-2, 14 June 2018, 322pp, £19.99 / $25.99. Available via Amazon.
Tharg’s Future Shocks are one-off, twist ending, sci-fi thrills that have introduced many of the biggest names in the comic book industry through the pages of 2000 AD. From Alan Moore to Al Ewing, Kevin O’Neill to Jon Davis-Hunt, Future Shocks have been a staple of the UK's best-selling comic 2000 AD! This exciting first volume takes us back to the earliest days of the strip and showcases the burgeoning, immense talents of such luminaries as Steve Moore, Alan Moore, Brett Ewins, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, John Cooper, Carlos Pino, Jesus Redondo, Steve Dillon, Peter Milligan and many, many more.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Power Behind the Power Pack

As some of you will have heard, a plot has been hatched to bring back into print the whole of Ken Reid's Odhams output. Reid, one of the most popular and collectable of British comic artists, was active for fifty years as an artist, firstly in newspapers (his "Adventures of Fudge the Elf" running in the Manchester Evening News from 1938-40 and revived post-war in 1946-61, some adventures being reprinted in book form) and then in comics. He arrived in The Beano with a bang, drawing Roger the Dodger and Grandpa before creating the incomparable Jonah (1958-63).

Reid was then tempted by Leo Baxendale to work for what Baxendale described as a Super-Beano. Many of the artists he hoped to attract preferred the safety net of the decades old comics at D C Thomsons; Reid took the plunge, creating Frankie Stein, Jasper the Grasper, Queen of the Seas, Dare-a-Day Davy and The Nerves between 1964-69.

These make up the contents of The Power Pack, a two-volume set to be published shortly. The project is fan-led and fan-financed, the subject of a highly successful IndieGoGo project that just needs a little more of your help to get the printing of the book fully financed.

The brains behind the project is Irmantas Povilaika, a 51-year-old former cartoonist who nowadays works in the tourism sector. Married with two adult children, he lives in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and has been actively collecting British comics for over a decade, having been introduced to them as a boy. Fans of British humour comics will know his Kazoop!! blog, but may know little about the man behind the blog, or the upcoming books. Well, here's your chance to meet...

Irmantas Povilaika:
The Power Behind the Power Pack

People will be interested to learn more about your early cartooning career -- I'm one of... well, probably everybody, who knows nothing about what Lithuania, so perhaps you could tell us something about the kind of comics or cartoons that were available when you were a boy. Were there any? Were they an influence on your desire to draw cartoons? Were cartoons a regular part of newspapers or magazines as they are (or at least were) here in the UK?

My comics reading era was in the ‘70s, and we had next to nothing in terms of comics as kids – we were part of the Soviet Union, and Russians didn’t like comics. They liked caricatures, but not comics, so that were very scarce. I remember there used to be a comic strip (without speech balloons) about a piglet in the children’s monthly magazine, and an occasional page or short series in the national bi-weekly humour magazine, mostly mocking greedy capitalists and evil army generals, etc., with two smart unemployed chaps as central characters. These were quite good, actually, and had every feature of a comic strip. I recently found out that the artist is still alive and has published a tiny run of a semi-complete collection of his comic work from that period, which I eagerly acquired for my archive.

Cartoon by Herluf Bidstrup
There was also a hard-cover book of strips by the Danish cartoonist Herluf Bidstrup. He was a devout communist, so the Soviets published a collection of his works, and it is still well-remembered by people who used to like cartoons back in the day. I also read some Disney comic books that I borrowed from a friend – he had an Aunt in the US and she’d sometimes send him a copy or two. And finally there was that issue of Whoopee! that I have mentioned in  other interviews. These were my only exposures to comics and cartoons, but they were enough to kindle my desire to try my hand at the genre. I used to draw after school for my own pleasure (mostly humorous cowboy and space adventure stuff) and my mates used to come to our place and read those hand-drawn comic pages quite frequently… I still have many of them.

My first experience with published comics work was rather unfortunate – I drew a page about classroom mayhem that usually took place when our biology teacher showed us educational films. She used a projector and screen, so it had to be dark in the classroom, and we did all sorts of naughty kids stuff when she turned off the lights. The reason why that first experience was unfortunate was because I made two mistakes in the strip: first was that I actually mentioned a biology lesson in one of the speech balloons, second – the drawing of the teacher looked a lot like the lady who taught us biology. When the page was published in the national school-children’s magazine, my name and the name of my school was printed underneath, so the poor lady’s colleagues from all over Lithuania called her to tell her she was now famous… The teacher got very upset and ignored me for few years afterwards. I felt bad about unintentionally offending the teacher who was a really nice lady.

Comic strip by Irmantas from 1991.
This taught me a lesson or two for my future life, but didn’t discourage me from drawing. More than a decade later when I was in university I started freelancing for the national humour magazine. Perestroika thing was in full swing. Lithuania was making noises about independence, and suddenly there was a demand for western things, comics among them, so I approached the magazine and they enthusiastically agreed to publish my work. I did a few series – the first one was about three blunderous wannabee gangsters, written by me.

Then I started working with a Lithuanian writer, transforming his humorous short stories and even a short novel into serialized comics for the magazine. The work was fun, but then other things took priority. I gave up drawing comics, and my interest in the genre evaporated. The humour magazine went out of business a few years later but I know there were some independent publishers releasing their own work or reprinting foreign comics – mostly American and French strips. I don’t know much about the current state of Lithuanian comics – I know there are some young artists who do “artsy” intellectual comics, but they are not my favourite type – I prefer humour.

You have mentioned having a pen-pal who sent you copies of British comics. Firstly, how did you hook up with a pen-pal from the UK? And how much of an eye-opener was it to receive a copy of Whoopee! What were your early favourites among the strips you saw?

Whoopee! Xmas number for 1976
It was quite unusual to have a pen friend in Britain in those days. However, we had a brilliant English teacher and she had a friend in Leeds who taught at Shakespeare Middle School. The two of them got an idea that their pupils could become pen friends. Mine was an Andrew Green, and we exchanged letters for quite a few years. I must have mentioned my interest in comics to Andrew, so he mailed me a few. The issue of Whoopee! was an eye-opener. I was particularly fascinated by the idea of the same characters appearing on a weekly basis. Scream Inn, Frankie Stein (by Robert Nixon), Scared-Stiff Sam, Bumpkin Billionaires, Fun Fear, Spy School, Lolly Pop, World-Wide Weirdies  – I thought they were all hilarious. As a matter of fact, I still do today - Whoopee! had a fantastic team of artists then.

I don’t recall the exact timeline, but it is quite possible that my first ever published work was in the UK! The school in Leeds that I mentioned had their own magazine – it was called “As We Put It” or something along these lines, and contained pupils’ contributions – stories, letters, drawings, short articles, puzzles, quizzes, etc. At some point I wrote a fairy tale and made it into a small colour book with a drawing in the top half of every page and my hand-written text (in English) underneath. I sent it to Andrew with one of my letters. He showed it to his teacher, and she shared it with the editor, who reprinted my whole book in the school magazine! I was thrilled!  I must have been 10 or 11 at that time…

Sweeny Toddler, art by Leo Baxendale
Did you like the work of other Whoopee! artists? Reg Parlett, Terry Bave, Arthur Martin were producing rather more traditional British humour strips, but Whoopee! also the likes of Brian Walker on The Ghost Train and Tom Patterson's Sweeny Toddler.

I did, indeed. Brian Walker, Robert Nixon, Mike Lacey, Reg Parlett and Ken Reid were my favourite artists (I didn’t know their names then, of course). I also liked Terry Bave, and I can see traces of his influence in my comic work, alongside with those of Robert Nixon and Mike Lacey, although the latter two were a lot more difficult to imitate than Terry Bave.

You obviously became a fan of British comics, but when did you start collecting them seriously. What kind of collection have you been able to build and what do your family think of your obsession with what most people (even here in the UK) think of as ephemeral and maybe a little childish?

It all started when the name of Whoopee! comic accidentally popped up in my mind and I looked it up on eBay in the Spring of 2007. My collection is now rather big. Apart from all Power Comics, I also own complete runs of most IPC titles – Whoopee!, Cor!!, Shiver and Shake, Monster Fun, Cheeky Weekly, Krazy, Jackpot, School Fun, Wow!, Jackpot, Smash! (the IPC run), Jet, Jag, Scorcher, Misty, Valiant... My collection of Buster is now just 3 issues short of the complete 40-year run! Although I prefer IPC to DC Thomson, I also have quite a large collection of the Beano and the Dandy from the ‘50s and the ‘60s, and the complete collection of the two titles from 1970 until the last newsprint editions in the late ‘80s which proudly sits on my shelf in the form of bound volumes – with colour covers and dustjackets! I am still looking for just 2 more issues of Sparky to complete the set of my favourite DCT title… My family respect my hobby (I wouldn’t refer to it an obsession :) ) but we don’t discuss it at home.  I keep my collection neatly organized – all comics are bagged and boarded, with two comics per bag (one on each side of the board), all in boxes, so although it is rather big, it doesn’t take up much space or interfere with home life.

Do you have any particular favourite comics - either titles or maybe even individual issues -- in your collection? 

As you can probably see from the list of the titles that I collect, those published by IPC in the 70s and later on are my favourite ones.

Whoopee! celebrates 500 issues with issue 494!
Can you recall your first contact with other comics fans? Was it through the internet? What inspired you to launch Kazoop!! in 2012? Your love of the various comics and their strips comes through very strongly across the whole site, but also a very high level of knowledge. Has contact with other collectors helped build your knowledge about artists and the history of the various comics. Have you had any contact with artists who worked on the comics themselves?

My first contact with other comic fans was through the internet. I follow ComicsUK Forum and occasionally post there too. I found out a lot about British comics by reading various blogs, and they were my inspiration to start Kazoop!! blog in 2012. The original idea was to take one title at a time and cover it in detail in a series of posts – the general overview, yearly overviews, a separate post for every strip and feature, followed by separate posts for every Holiday Special and Annual of the title. I have covered three titles so far, and they are Cor!!, Shiver & Shake and Monster Fun Comic. One day I will get round to starting a similar exercise involving all 11 years of Whoopee! – the comic that I blame for starting it all for me.

As for the source of my knowledge – it all comes from reading things online and in books, and of course the comics themselves :-)

I have indeed had a few brief contacts with some of the artists, including  Trevor Metcalfe (now a follower of my blog) and Tom Patterson. I am in touch with Ken’s son Antony J. Reid, who was very helpful when I was preparing the reprint books – THE POWER PACK OF KEN REID.

That brings us neatly to the Power Pack books. What inspired you to try and put together this collection? What barriers did you find yourself facing as you worked towards putting the books together?

My inspiration was my passion for Ken’s work and the desire to bring it back into the spotlight.  Rebellion have started their Treasury line, the number of smaller publishers of archive material is slowly increasing so the tradition seems to be emerging, and I hope my project will help turn it into a long-standing and good one. British comics have a long history and a rich heritage of first rate material that deserves to be collected, and the interest appears to be there.

The biggest obstacle was tracking down the copyright holder. I was banging on the wrong doors for a while but then thanks to you I got in touch with Time Inc. (UK) Ltd, and things developed smoothly from that point. There were also certain “technical” issues that had to be addressed – the pages that will go into the books have been scanned from original paper comics. Printing quality wasn’t perfect back in the day, so remastering involved quite a bit of time and effort.

What made you think of gathering together Ken Reid's Odhams strips? This could be something of a golden age for Ken Reid collectors as Rebellion have just released a volume of Faceache... are there other Reid strips that you would like to see reprinted?

The reason I thought that gathering all of Ken’s Odhams strips together might be a good idea was because I believe it is one of the most interesting periods of his work. Talking to fans I realized that such an edition was something many people would like to own.

I am glad Rebellion released the Faceache book, and I hope that ‘Vol 1’ on the cover implies we’ll be seeing more of Ricky Rubberneck’s adventures in the future. I hope Rebellion’s next Ken Reid book collecting his Creepy Creations will be successful enough to make them consider releasing the complete edition of Wanted Posters and World-Wide Weirdies. As for his other strips - like many fans, I would definitely like to see Jonah collected together. A collection of Big Bang Benny, Ali-Ha-Ha and Big Head & Thick Head from The Dandy would also be something to look forward to.

This volume will include background material on Reid's days working for Odhams by yourself and by Ken's son, Antony. How important has Antony's support been in putting together the books? Have you been able to access lost or otherwise unknown illustrations by Ken? Are you including the banned Dare-a-Day Davy "Frankenstein" strip in the collection?

Antony has been very helpful. He wrote separate intros for both volumes and gave me access to his dad’s archive material – my ultimate resource when researching and writing the account of Ken’s life during his Odhams period (1964-69) that will be presented in the books. It will cover not just the strips featured in the collection but also many other projects that Ken pitched to his publisher during those years. Some previously unseen sketches and illustrations will be included as well, alongside with the ‘banned’ episode that you mentioned.

Tell us about the crowdfunding campaign that you have running to finance the printing of the book. What made you take this route and how has it been received?

Full details can be found in campaign description, but I will briefly mention that the Power Pack of Ken Reid consists of two hard-cover 200 page books. Volume One features Frankie Stein and Jasper the Grasper, with introductions by yourself and Antony J. Reid, plus Chapter One of The Odhams Years of Ken Reid – illustrated biography, written by me. It has a bonus section with reproductions of Ken’s hand-written scripts of the Frankie Stein episodes in Wham! Annuals 1966 and 1967 and some funny pencil sketches of Frankie and Micky. Volume Two features Queen of the Seas, Dare-A-Day Davy and The Nervs. It has introductions by Nigel Parkinson and Antony, and includes Part Two of the Odhams Years bio. Supporters of the campaign are offered the privilege of the slipcase edition and the free prints of original artwork. The books can be pre-ordered both individually and as a set, and I will post them to anywhere in the World.

Snapshot of the IndieGoGo page on Thursday.
The campaign is on IndieGoGo platform and the idea is to raise funds to cover production costs. The campaign was well received – supporters contributed more than 75 per cent in less than a week, so I am confident the goal will be achieved as there is still a month to go. The good initial response shows that there is a lot of affection for those strips, and looking at the geography of the supporters I can see it extends far beyond the UK – there are backers from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Greece and Germany! I think the crowdfunding model is a good way to reach potential audience. The enthusiastic response has substantiated my faith in the project and I will do my utmost to ensure that the final product is as good as it can be!

Is there any news of the biography you have been working with Antony Reid on a biography of his father's life and career?

The biography is work in progress and full details will be revealed in due course. I can say that it will be a detailed account of Ken’s life and work covering his entire career, with lots of previously unseen illustrations that we are sure fans will be delighted to see. Cartoonists of the yesteryear have been kept away from the spotlight by various publishers and little is known about their lives. The Complete Biography project will surely fill the gap for Ken Reid.

What have you planned for the future?  Any further collections if this one is a success? What would you like to see collected, whether by yourself or from another publisher.

I will take one step at a time. The plan for the immediate future is to make sure the fans of Ken’s work are happy with The Power Pack and the project is a general success. Apart from Ken’s strips that I mentioned previously, I would certainly like to see collections of Leo Baxendale’s strips from the Beano, and I am sure I am not alone here.  Scream Inn by Brian Walker is another big personal favourite of mine, and I hope Rebellion will find it worth their while to release it at some point.

My thanks to Irmantas for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope you'll support the campaign to get these books printed.