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Saturday, September 22, 2018

W Bryce Hamilton

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

W. Bryce Hamilton was possibly best-known for his work as a Sexton Blake artist for the Amalgamated Press in the 1950s. He had earlier been a popular artist for the illustrated newspaper The Sphere, producing several colour covers in the 1920s, and he also illustrated around 30 children’s books between 1921 and 1953. His early life, however, is something of a mystery.

He was born on 28 October 1894, probably at 54 Lyme Street, Manchester and baptized, as William Bryce Hamilton (the baptism record gave his second name as “Brice”) on 24 March 1895 at St. Paul’s Church, Brunswick Street, Manchester. Little is known about his father, James Hamilton, who was a designer when William was born and a former ship’s engineer, born in Scotland in around 1857. His mother, Emily Elizabeth, was born on 24 July 1862 in Manchester, although again nothing else is known about her.  There appears to be no trace of the family in either the 1901 and 1911 census records, both in England and Scotland.

It is not known where Bryce Hamilton was educated, although he studied art at the Glasgow School of Art.  He first appeared as an illustrator in 1921, when he provided the frontispiece for a school story, Margery Finds Herself, by Doris Pocock and published by Blackie & Son. (The title page erroneously gives the illustrator as H. Coller). In 1923, he illustrated an adventure story by D.H. Parry, “Deathless Dynasty”, for Chums, and in 1924 he illustrated the first of several girls’ stories for Thomas Nelson & Sons. He went on illustrate twelve more books for Blackie & Son, as well as handful of books for other publishers. Most of the books he illustrated were girls’ stories, by authors such as Kathleen Rhodes, Evelyn Everett Green, Ethel Talbot, Geraldine Mockler, Jane Paterson Milne, Dorita Fairlie Bruce and Rita Coatts. Amongst the few boys’ stories he illustrated were a re-issue of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, Ralph Arnold’s On Secret Service, and a re-issue of Skelton Kuppord’s school story Hammond’s Hard Lines.

He also contributed to a number of children’s annuals between around 1928 and 1940, including Blackie & Sons’ The Girls’ Budget, The Boys’ Book of School Stories, Blackie’s Children’s Annual and The Prize Budget for Girls, and Oxford University Press’s The Oxford Annual for Boys, The Oxford Annual for Girls, The Big Book of School Stories for Boys and The Splendid Book for Girls.

Meanwhile, in 1924 he had begun a long association, lasting until 1941, with The Sphere, providing illustrations for stories and of social and sporting events, including many colour illustrations both for inside the magazine and on the cover. Other periodicals to which he sporadically contributed were The Graphic, The Bystander, and Mine.

Hamilton lived for a few years in the 1920s in Maida Vale, London, firstly at 10 Randolph Road and then at 125 Maida Vale. He returned to Manchester in 1929 when he married Margaret (“Maggie”) Winifred Burroughs, a dressmaker born on 7 November 1883 in Manchester and the daughter of Joseph Beaumont Burroughs, a shopkeeper, and his wife Martha Alice. They lived at 125 Maida Vale until around 1933, moving to 149 Maida Vale and then, in 1937, to 37A Abercorn Place, Marylebone, where they remained until Hamilton’s death in 1955. (He was recorded as an “Artist Illustrator” in the 1939 Register, living there with his wife and widowed mother.)

In around 1949 Hamilton began working for the Amalgamated Press (he had earlier illustrated the series “Dane the Dog Detective in Chips in the 1930s). One of his first works was for the comic strip “The Three Musketeers: The Adventure of the Iron Mask” in Knockout (reprinted as the first number of Thriller Comics in 1951, with a different ending – in the original strip the Musketeers all died, but this was changed so that they could appear in further stories). He went on to draw for The Comet, Cowboy Comics Library, Super Detective Library and The School Friend. He also produced the cover for the first, and only, issue of the Australian comic library Captain Flame in 1949. In December 1953 he became the main artist of Knockout’s Sexton Blake stories, going on to produce 80 strips until his death 18 months later, which occurred at his home in Abercorn Place on 26 May 1955. He left an estate valued at £2,207. His wife died at Tooting Bec, Wandsworth, on 3 December 1963, leaving just £250.

Hamilton’s artistic legacy is not exactly huge, although it may be that he did a lot of work which was uncredited (it is known, for example, that he produced paintings for posters and advertisements, and that he painted in oils). This may explain why he was ignored by the major reference books, other than Alan Clark’s Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors (1998). He may not have been a brilliant illustrator, but he was fairly versatile, and able to change his style to suit his audience, and perhaps more worthy of recognition than his neglect suggests.


Books illustrated by W. Bryce Hamilton
Margery Finds Herself by Doris Alice Pocock, Blackie & Son, 1921
Young Felix by Frank Swinnerton, Hutchinson & Co., 1923 (dustwrapper)
At the Sign of the Windmill by Ierne L. Plunket, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924
Mollie Hazeldene’s Schooldays by Maude S. Forsey, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924
The Head of the House by Kathleen Rhodes, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924
The Adventures of Ulysses by Cecily M. Rutley, E.J. Arnold, 1924
Esther’s Charge by Evelyn Everett Green, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924 (re-issue) (dustwrapper)
Patsey at School by Pamela Hinkson, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
Patricia, Prefect by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
Christal’s Adventure by Alice M. Chesterton, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925 (dustwrapper)
Jake’s Birthday Present by Geraldine Mockler, Blackie & Son, 1925 (re-issue)
The Wild Bird by Margaret Stuart Lane, Oxford University Press, 1926
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, Blackie & Son, 1926 (re-issue)
Carol’s Second Term by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1928
Lifting the Cloud by W.P. Shervil, Oxford University Press, 1928
Margery Merton’s Girlhood by Alice Corkran, Blackie & Son, 1928 (re-issue) (dustwrapper)
The Wolf Runner by E.E. Cowper, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1929
On Secret Service by Ralph Arnold, Blackie & Son, 1935
Harriet G. at St. Hilary’s by Jane Paterson Milne, Blackie & Son, 1936
Sidney Seeks Her Fortune by Catherine Mary Christian, Blackie & Son, 1937
The Mysterious Term at Merlands by Jane Paterson Milne, Blackie & Son, 1937
Prior’s Island by Marjorie Taylor, Blackie & Son, 1939
The Holiday They Didn’t Want! By Laurie Munro, Blackie & Son, 1940
Dimsie Carries On by Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Oxford University Press, 1941
Hammond’s Hard Lines by Skelton Kuppord, Blackie & Son, 1941 (re-issue)
The Triumphs of Three by Bessie Comfort, Blackie & Son, 1942
Margery Finds Herself by Doris Alice Pocock, Blackie & Son, 1942(?) (re-issue)
Demon Island:  A Tale by Cecil R. Baldock, George Newnes Ltd., 1946
Little Miss Pinch by Catherine Buckle, E.J. Arnold & Son, 1948
Lots of Pluck by Rita Coatts, W. & R Chambers, 1948
A Madcap Brownie by Sibyl B. Owsley, Blackie & Son, 1953 (re-issue)
The Lost Galleon: A Story of the Times of George I by C. Bernard Rutley, (1950s)
Attic Tales by Alfred Dunning, E.J. Arnold (1950s) (re-issue)
Some Legends of Greece and Rome, E.J. Arnold & Son, (?)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Comic Cuts - 21 September 2018

After a couple of weeks of mostly pottering along post-Iron Mask, I've found my writing mojo again and I'm hard at work at another Forgotten Authors essay. I picked up a book by Alfred Duggan on Saturday, a historical novelist who had previously crossed  my path as a contributor to Look and Learn. I'd written a 400-word biographical sketch as part of my research into the history of the paper and between that and the biography on the back of the book – a Penguin paperback of Knight With Armour, which also has a photo of Duggan – I thought I'd do some digging while Mel was off at a show over the weekend.

Yes, as usual I've managed to wander down plenty of sideroads during the past few days while I've been delving into his family history. Without spoiling the eventual article that I'm in the process of writing, my internet browser history for this morning includes a variety of Wikipedia entries for contemporaries at Eton; the Eton Register; searches relating to Hackwood Park, Tattershall Castle, Bodiam Castle; searches relating to Duggan's step-sisters, including the history of the British Union of Fascists and various websites about Oswald Mosley to try and confirm rumours about his stepsisters (one of whom was Mrs. Mosley) and his mum.

There are always endless little searches for dates and places with this kind of research. It doesn't always go quite so dark, quite so quickly. My next few paragraphs are about alcoholism and Evelyn Waugh before I head into Mosley's political history. Hopefully it'll be a fun read at the end.

For lighter entertainment I've been watching Iron Fist, the latest Netflix series set in their Marvel TV shows. Over the past three years they've kept up an incredibly high standard – the first series of Daredevil was absolutely gripping and they've barely put a foot wrong since. I think it's the general consensus that of the six different shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Punisher, Iron Fist and the team-up show The Defenders), Iron Fist had the softest debut. It wasn't well liked. The best bits were being done better in other shows and perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that a programme involving zen meditation, channeling chi and stillness might lack momentum.

Well, the second series has solved some of those problems. There's more action spread over fewer episodes (10 rather than 13) and the approval rating has leapt (it's #1 in the Rotten Tomatoes chart for what they call the Sophomore Bump – how much better Season 2 has done over Season 1). It's not perfect (Danny is still an arse and Colleen should dump him; Danny's step-brother and step-sister suck the life out of any room they enter), but it's getting there. The best thing about the show: Colleen and NYPD detective Misty Knight working together. The screen really lit up when those two were together. And Alice Eve as Mary Walker made a fantastic villain... far more interesting than the one-note Davos.

We've almost reached the end of season two and therefore the end of the entirety of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, the BBC America series that ran for a total of 18 episodes. A far more creditable run than the pilot from 2010 and three episodes in 2012 managed by the BBC4 series with Stephen Mangan. The story itself seemed OK, but Mangan's Dirk was a cunning, nasty piece of work. For the new series he's played by Samuel Barnett with a mixture of confusion, naivete, bluster and blind confidence, added to a bit of wilful ignorance and leading from the back on occasions... but you don't get the impression that he's nasty.

The shows, like the novels, were deliberately obscure, building up onion-like layers out of weird details that, as the story progressed, could be peeled away. That the show only attracted a quarter of a million viewers doesn't surprise me. How do you promote a show like that in America?  It's the thing the guy who did Hitchhikers did that's not Hitchhikers. It's like comparing the popularity of Professor Challenger to the popularity of Sherlock Holmes.

Random scans are today quite random... just some scans of books I've picked up over the past few months that don't fit into any of the cover galleries I have here at Bear Alley.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Commando 5159-5162

Brand new Commandos are out today! Uncover a plot to assassinate Churchill, seek out Germans in American clothing, fly high in a gyrocopter with Danger Doyle, and take down tanks with the French Resistance!

5159: Target: Churchill
In 1605, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators crept into the cellars under Parliament with a plot to blow up the British government.
    More than three-hundred years later, in 1943, a group of German spies led by the fanatic Hauptmann Harald Stein had the same idea. Following Guy Fawkes’ example, their plan was to blow up Churchill and the British government. Their target: Westminster.

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Rezzonico
Inks: Morhain
Cover: Neil Roberts

5160: Bogus Yanks
“ACHTUNG! Wanted, for Top Secret mission behind enemy lines, men who can speak English with a strong American accent, expert in all types of weapons and unarmed combat. Tough, reliable, ruthless.”
    That notice went round all the crack German Army units. The Nazis got their volunteers, just a handful. They dressed that handful in Yankee uniform and parachuted them behind British and American lines to sabotage the Allied advance.
    But they didn’t reckon on a British sergeant who just hated Yanks!

Story: Powell
Art: CT Rigby
Cover| Ken Barr
Originally Commando No. 305 (January 1968).

5161: Danger on the Rocks
After the illuminating events in ‘Danger in the Dark’, Ulysses “Danger” Doyle was delighted to hear that the head of secret intelligence office “Omega”, Basil Copper, would be joining himself and Ned Finch personally on their next mission.
    But as Danger flew through the air on an ancient rope ladder, dangling precariously over an unexploded rocket on the back of a lorry, he contemplated how he had quite got into this mess in the first place…

Story: Stephen Walsh
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Janek Matysiak

5162: Clip His Wings!
Bill Thornton was a spotter pilot, working as the eyes of the artillery, and for the military planners masterminding the advance across France towards Germany in the closing stages of the war. So take away his plane, clip his wings, and he would be almost useless?
    No, not Bill. He was looking for the first action to cross his path… and that would not be long in coming

Story: Heptonstall
Art: CT Rigby
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally Commando No. 2872 (July 1995).

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 18-20 September 2018.

2000AD Prog 2099
Cover: Karl Richardson
JUDGE DREDD: THE BOOTH CONSPIRACY by TC Eglington (w) Staz Johnson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: SLACK N' HASH by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
MECHASTOPHELES: TRUE FAITH by Gordon Rennie, Lawrence Rennie (w) Karl Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
FUTURE SHOCKS: TALK'S CHEAP by Mark McCann (w) Adam Brown (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
THE ORDER: THE NEW WORLD by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Judge Dredd Megazine 400
Cover: David Millgate
JUDGE DREDD: THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY by John Wagner (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
LAWLESS: ASHES TO ASHES by Dan Abnett () Phil Winslade (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
BLUNT II by TC Eglington (w) Boo Cook (a) Simon Bowland (l)
DEVLIN WAUGH: CALL ME BY THY NAME by Ales Kot (w) Mike Dowling (a) Quinton Winter (c) Simon Bowland (l)
STORM WARNING: OVER MY DEAD BODY by John Reppion, Leah Moore (w), Jimmy Broxton (a)
THE DARK JUDGES: THE TORTURE GARDEN by John Wagner (w) Nick Percival (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: JORDAN RAMZY by Alan Grant (w) Inaki Miracnda (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
Interviews: Alan Hebden, Steve MacManus, Andy Diggle, Ian Gibson, David Bishop, Alan Barnes, John Tomlinson
Bagged reprint: First Shots - first Dredd stories by key new generation artists including Staz Johnson, Tan Eng Haut, Ianki Miranda, Sam Hart, Len O'Grady, PJ Holden.

The Ballad of Halo Jones Volume 3
Rebellion 978-1781-08637-7, 18 September 2018, 98pp, £9.99 / $9.99. Available via Amazon.
Her dreams of escape dashed, Halo has ended up on a decaying ghostworld, where the drink is the only thing that hasn't run dry. Having drifted from one dead-end job to another, her credits and hopes for the future have almost run out, but fortunately, the military is looking for new recruits. With no other way out, she enlists. This third volume concludes Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s masterwork, coloured for the first time by Barbara Nosenzo.

Misty Volume 3
Rebellion ISBN 978-1781-18651-3, 20 September 2018 [10 Oct US], 98pp, £13.99 / $16.99. Available via Amazon.
The third collection in the popular reprints of stories from Misty, the supernatural horror comic for girls! A baby girl is rescued by a wolf, after her parents are killed in a car crash. Having only recently lost a cub herself, the wolf adopts the girl as one of her own. Two years later, soldiers on a military exercise find the child and bring her back to civilisation. Now in her early teens, the girl (called Lona) discovers her wild origin from her adopted parents. As Lona's bestial nature starts to resurface, she finds herself increasingly alone and at odds with the world around her!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Misty Volume 3

The third Rebellion collection from the pages of the 1980s girls' horror comic Misty breaks ranks with the previous two volumes by carrying only one serial story compared to the previous two. However, this makes sense as the volume has more of a thematic basis for its contents. I'll take this opportunity to say that this review contains a couple of spoilers.

You'll guess the theme from the title of the lead serial, "Wolf Girl". This long (62-page) lead story concerns a young girl who has been raised by a wolf since she was a baby. She was discovered by the grieving wolf, whose cub had been killed by hunters, wrapped in a shawl on the road, a car crash having killed her parents on a remote mountain road in eastern Europe. The child survives for two years in the wolf's company before soldiers discover her and return her to an orphanage in England.

Years later, and unaware of her adoption, Lona Williams is now a schoolgirl living in the quiet village of Woodvale suffering from uncertainty and anxiety about herself and her life. On her way to school, bullies try to take her lunch money and she instinctively reacts, growling and snarling at them until they run. Back at home, she overhears her parents discussing her adoption and that she was raised by a wolf... and now she fears grow even greater: "That's why I've behaved so strangely lately! That's why you've been so worried for me! The instincts of a wolf have been buried in my mind all these years – but now they're taking over!"

Feral wolf children are a fictional staple dating back to Roman legend (Romulus & Remus), while the most famous modern examples of children raised by animals would probably be Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli (The Jungle Book) and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan. There have also been real cases of children living amongst wild animals – 21st century examples being the discovery of a "Mowgli Boy" named Traian, who spent years living in the forests of Transylvania before being reunited with his mother, and Andrei Tolstyk, who was raised by a dog in remote Sibera for seven years.

In "Wolf Girl", Lona begins suffering memory lapses, which convinces her that everything she does is a throwback to her early upbringing and, somehow, she is turning into a wolf. Her mum puts this worry down to normal "teenage blues" that every girl goes through, and the Williams family set off for Scotland for a holiday. Lona, feeling more out of place than ever, runs off and encourages her "inner wolf" by releasing six real wolves from a wildlife park.

Now faced with an army of hunters trying to kill the wolves, Lona also has to battle the pack leader of the wolves for dominance.

On the surface, the story is of the "daft but entertaining" variety, saved from silliness by the convincing realism of the art by Eduardo Feito. However, it could be argued that the story isn't about wolves at all and that, through the medium of a Gothic-style horror yarn, we are watching Lona emerge from childhood to womanhood and, eventually, motherhood. The core of the story is the mystery "Is Lona turning into a wolf?" Not in the werewolf sense, but in the sense of having been trained from near birth to act like a wolf. There are hints that she might be a superheroine: her ability to control (most) wolves, her sackcloth clothing forming a rudimentary costume and cape, and the title of the strip giving her a name... Wolf Girl. Certainly the story has a darkness to it that lifts it out of the ordinary.

The short stories are a mixed bunch. "Poor Jenny" and "The Curse of the Wolf" are both variations on the werewolf legend; "Twin Catastrophes" is another story of a girl raised by wolves (drawn by Enrique Badia Romero, of "Modesty Blaise" fame, rather than his brother as the book credits, I believe) but with a werewolf twist; and "Wolfsbane" (which is by Jorge Badia Romero) has a girl run from a werewolf only to find herself in the paws of another attacker.

Of the four, the third is probably my favourite as it has a genuine Hammer horror setting – the lonely chateau, horse drawn carriages, girls in bonnets, the works! – although the last runs it a close second.

Misty Vol. 3: Wolf Girl & Other Stories by Eduardo Feito, Jordi Badia Romero et al. Rebellion ISBN 9781781086513, 20 September 2018, £13.99. Available via Amazon.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Step Back in Time - Wivenhoe 100 years ago

"Step Back in Time" was a walk along the High Street put on by the Wivenhoe History Group. Various locations were highlighted and little placards offered details about the past history of many of the buildings along the road. The High Street is the heart of the old town, so it included the butchers, bakers, grocers, chemist and everything else you would expect to see that have, for the most part, been replaced by the Co-Op at the top of the High Street.

I took a few snaps as I walked down the road today but, unfortunately, it was mid-day and I found myself shooting into the sun, so I gave up with buildings after a few shots. There were a lot of cars around, too, so I might wait for a quiet Sunday and do a little walking tour of my own.

You can find historical images and a guide and map at the Wivenhoe's History website.

W Lindsay Cable

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

W. Lindsay Cable is best-remembered today for illustrating several of Enid Blyton’s girls’ school stories, including her St. Clare’s series. He also illustrated several books by Rita Coatts, and several boys’ adventure stories.

Some sources, for example Brigid Peppin’s and Lucy Micklethwait’s Dictionary of British Book Illustrators – The Twentieth Century (1983), have referred to Lindsay Cable as a woman: “Illustrator, mainly of girls’ school stories, in pen and ink, brush and ink and pencil. Initially, her work was rather reminiscent of fashion plates, but by the 1940s it had become more independent in style, employing a good range of textures and shading.” Taking his cue from this Alan Horne, in The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators (1994) also refers to Lindsay Cable as being female. Both sources were wrong.

W. Lindsay Cable was born on 30 March 1900 in Lochee, Forfarshire, Scotland, and christened William Lindsay Cable. His father, Thomas Cable, was a cabinet-maker and undertaker, who had married Mary Ann Mortimer, a milliner, in Lochee on 2 March 1888. They had five children: Thomas (born in 1889 – he went on to become a well-known comedian in Scotland), Mary Black (born in 1890), John Mortimer (born in 1897, died aged just 4 days), William, and Annie Ogilvie (1903), all born in Lochee. At the time of the 1901 census, the family was living at 67 High Street, Lochee; ten years later they were at 142 Albert Street, Dundee.

Cable developed his artistic talent during a boyhood illness, teaching himself to draw and paint in oils and watercolours. After leaving school he worked for The Dundee Advertiser and The Dundee Peoples’ Journal, providing cartoons and sketches. He subsequently moved to London, where (according to an obituary in The Dundee Courier in 1949) he opened a studio which he maintained for ten years. Unfortunately, it is not known where this was, although it is known that between 1928 and 1936 Cable was living at 26 Mecklenburgh Square, St. Pancras.

It is likely that he came to London shortly before 1925, when his earliest recorded work as an illustrator for national periodicals appeared. He contributed, albeit only minimally, to The Boy’s Own Paper and The Red Magazine, and he went on to contribute to The Bystander, The Passing Show, The Strand Magazine, The Golden West, Pearson’s Magazine, Cassell’s Magazine and, between 1931 and 1936, to The Novel Magazine. He also went on to work for Punch in the 1930s.

At the same time he was also working as a commercial artist – it is known, for example, that he designed posters for the Great Western Railway in the late 1920s//early 1930s. He later occasionally exhibited as a painter, in particular with the Royal Scottish Academy and the Dundee Art Society.

In the late 1930s he moved to Devon, and lived for a while at Taunton Cross, Shute, Axminster. In 1938, in Weymouth, Dorset, he married Minnie Skinner Hamden, born on 9 December 1902, the daughter of William Richard Hamden, the manager of a mineral water company. They settled at 22 Park Lane, St, Thomas, Devon, with Cable describing himself in the 1939 Register as a “Freelance Artist, Humorous and Serious, Educational Book Illustrator.”

His first book illustrations had appeared in 1931, in a story by May Wynne published by the Religious Tract Society, and then he began providing illustrations for dustwrappers (for example for two novels by Richard Starr, The Fifty-Fifty Marriage and Bachelor Girls, published by Herbert Jenkins). However, it appears he didn’t establish himself as a book illustrator until the late 1930s, when he illustrated a handful of girls’ school stories for Thomas Nelson & Sons and Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. Having moved to Devon, he also worked with local publishers, illustrating a book of biographies of Cornish characters written by Clara Vyvyan and published by the Channing Press in Dawlish, Devon, and two series of “early reader” books published by A. Wheaton & Co., of Exeter.

In 1939 he illustrated a re-issue of Angela Brazil’s Monitress Merle for Blackie & Son, and he went to specialize in girls’ school stories. He became closely associated with Enid Blyton in 1940, when he illustrated The Naughtiest Girl in the School (and its sequel, The Naughtiest Girl Again in 1942) for George Newnes, and in 1941 when he began illustrating what turned out to be her six stories set at St. Clare’s, published by Methuen & Co. In 1943 he illustrated The Secret of Cliff Castle which was published by Newnes in 1943 under Blyton’s pseudonym of Mary Pollock.

He also illustrated three more school stories by Angela Brazil, for Blackie & Son, and five books by Rita Coatts, published by Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. For the same publisher he also illustrated re-issues of classic novels such as Coral Island, Lorna Doone, Treasure Island, Mr Midshipman Easy and Robinson Crusoe. Between 1945 and 1949 he also worked for the Huddersfield publisher Schofield & Sims, illustrating a handful of children’s adventure and school stories.

He also occasionally contributed to annuals and similar volumes. Including The Sketch Book and Winter’s Pie Annual in 1927, and children’s books such as The Big Book of School Stories for Boys, The Girls’ Budget, Blackie’s Children’s Annual and The All-Story Wonder Book.

Many of his illustrations were in pencil, and were little more than quick sketches, some looking distinctly amateurish while others had a certain deal of verve.

In 1940 he courted some controversy when, while working for the Ministry of Information, he illustrated a series of booklets for children which were blatant propaganda. One, Ahmad and Johnny, written in Arabic, featured two young boys, Johnny, from England, and Ahmad, from Sudan, who had been brought to England by Johnny’s father. These were distributed in the Middle East and North Africa, while another series, Hussein and Johnny, written in Farsi, was aimed at an Iranian audience. Both series set out to show how enlightened and powerful Britain was, and how the country was pulling together to fight fascism.

In 1941 Cable left the Ministry of Information and returned to Dundee, where he spent two years working at the Dundee College of Art during the war-time teacher shortage, whilst still illustrating children’s books.

William Lindsay Cable died at his home at Thorngarth, 39 Navarre Street, Barnhill, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, on 12 April 1949, and was buried in Shanwell Cemetry, Carnoustie, on the 15 April. He left an estate valued at £3,098. His wife died at 72 Elwell Street, Upwey, Weymouth, Dorset on 17 October 1994, leaving £125,000.


Books illustrated by W. Lindsay Cable
The Secret of Marigold Marnell By May Wynne, Religious Tract Society, 1931
Nora O’Flanigan, Prefect by Maude S. Forsey, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1937
Jane Emerges by Margaret Ironside, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1937
Cornish Cronies by C.C. Vyvyan, Channing Press, 1937
Ghosts at Stark Hall by Rita Coatts, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1938
Jim the Dandy by S.M. Williams, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1938
Merry-go-Round Readers ed. by C. Bradham, Wheaton & Co.:
1.    Swing High! Swing Low! 1938
2.    All the Fun of the Fair 1938
3.    Roundabouts and Swings 1938
4.    Carnival! 1939
5.    Helter Skelter 1939
Wheaton’s Rhythmic Readers ed. by Belle Rose & M. Gallagher, Wheaton & Co., 1938-1940 (5 books)
Mary Todd’s Last Term by Frances Greenwood, Blackie & Son, 1939
The Caravan Holiday by Eileen Brook, Schofield & Sims, 1939
Monitress Merle by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1939 (re-issue)
The Mystery House by Jessie Leckie Herbertson, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1939 (re-issue)
Tom Sawyer Grows Up by Clement Wood, George G. Harrap & Co., 1940
The Saturday Club by Elizabeth Leitch, Blackie & Son, 1940
The Naughtiest Girl in the School by Enid Blyton, George Newnes Ltd., 1940
Jane Emerges by Margaret Ironside, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1937
My Picture and Easy Reading Book, Frederick Warne & Co., 1940 (with other artists)
Running Deer by Geoffrey Trease, George G. Harrap & Co., 1941
Spies Over France by James Stewart, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1941
Five Jolly Schoolgirls by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1941
The Twins at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton, Methuen & Co., 1941
The Naughtiest Girl Again by Enid Blyton, George Newnes Ltd., 1942
The Mystery of the Moated Grange by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1942
The O’Sullivan Twins by Enid Blyton, Methuen & Co., 1942
Summer Term at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton, Methuen & Co., 1943
The Secret of Cliff Castle by Mary Pollock (i.e. Enid Blyton), George Newnes Ltd., 1943
Second Form at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton, Methuen & Co., 1944
Don and the Meadscourt Mystery by V.B. Charlesworth, Hollis & Carter, 1944
Claudine at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton, Methuen & Co., 1945
Fifth Formers of St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton, Methuen & Co., 1945
A Nautical Weekend by Charles Constant, Schofield & Sims, 1945
A Feud and a Find by Bertha Leonard, Schofield & Sims, 1945
The School on the Loch by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1946
The House Next Door by Ethel Nokes, Ward Lock & Co., 1946
Flying Films by Robert Hawke, Schofield & Sims, 1946
Aircraft Carrier by S.T. James, Schofield & Sims, 1946
The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1946 (re-issue)
Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1946 (re-issue)
The Secret of Arrivol by Frances Cowan, Schofield & Sims, 1947
Tales of the Tyrol by Shillingford St. George, Schofield & Sims, 1947
The Serpents by Amy Woodward, Schofield & Sims, 1947
Chu Tafu by Athol Harcourt Burrage, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1947
The Cruise of the Kingfisher by H. De Vere Stacpoole, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1947 (re-issue)
The Heather Moon by Hetty Davey, Schofield & Sims, 1947
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1947 (re-issue)
Jim Davis by John Masefield, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1947 (re-issue)
Mr Midshipman Easy by Frederick Marryat, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1947 (re-issue)
Little Christian’s Pilgrimage by Helen L. Taylor, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1947 (re-issue)
When the Sea Boiled by Leslie Savage, Hollis & Carter, 1948
The Jewels and Jenny by Winifred Barnes, Schofield & Sims, 1948
The House with Dark Corners by Rita Coatts, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1948
Jane Sets Out by Rita Coatts, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1948
Lisbet Leads: A Story for Girls by Rita Coatts, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1948
Round Fairyland with Alice by Brenda Girvin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1948 (re-issue)
Trouble at the Grange by George Pumphrey, Schofield & Sims, 1949
Jenny at St. Julien’s by Winifred Barnes, Schofield & Sims, 1949
The Redgold Guineas by Susan Mary Williams, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1949
The Silent House Which Held a Secret: A Story for Girls by Rita Coatts, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1949
The Three Elizabeths by Jesse Margaret Page, Blackie & Son, 1950
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (abridged), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1952

Friday, September 14, 2018

Comic Cuts - 14 September 2018

For reasons unknown to me, I keep waking up early and then spending a couple of hours in a daze somewhere between sleep and awake. It's not unusual for me to wake around 5.30 am, but this week it has been 2.30 and 3.30.

I find it difficult to get back to sleep, so I keep my laptop by my bed and will quietly play something. An audio book will often let me drift off fairly quickly. A couple of months ago, when the same thing was happening, I found copies of Hugh Fraser reading Agatha Christie would send me right off to sleep again. There are still a couple of novels where I barely got to the murder, let alone the solution. This week it was an audio version of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. I think I was still in the Prologue before I dropped off. Didn't even get as far as the Overlords invasion.

Although I can usually doze off, it's frustrating not to get a full night's sleep. I'll doze off after lunch and lose half the afternoon if I'm not careful.

Waking early does have some advantages. I'm listening to Dan Dare's audio adventures from B7 Media which were recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra [the second and third are now on the iPlayer]. And very good they are too. Although each story is named after the stories that appeared in the original Eagle, they've made some substantial changes while keeping the tone of the originals. The three main leads – Dan, Digby and Peabody – are all turned up a notch from their Eagle characters; audio Dan is more Daniel Craig than Pierce Brosnan and audio Digby is more Pierce Brosnan than Roger Moore; meanwhile Peabody is more Samantha Bond than Lois Maxwell.

An appearance by Hugh Fraser in the second episode didn't send me off to sleep!

My other early morning listening, and keeping to the Eagle theme, has been Where Eagle's Dare, a monthly podcast by Peter Adamson and David Ronayne about the 1980s Eagle. It follows the same format as the Space Spinner 2000 podcast, which covers a months worth of issues at a time, which gives the storylines a little space to develop and speeds you through the stories at a pace where they won't outstay their welcome.

Peter and David are Kiwis, both huge fans of the New Eagle when it came out in the Eighties, and their enthusiasm for the characters shines through. I'm relishing each episode as they revisit the heady days of Sgt. Streetwise, Joe Soap and Doomlord. Properly critical of some of the photo strips (Adventures of Fred) and occasionally stumbling across material that today would be problematical, the two presenters keep things light and the whole thing bubbles along in a thoroughly entertaining way.

A project that might interest folks who enjoy the Dick Barton style of radio adventures is Filthy '47, which its author (Richard Raymond) describes as "a Hitchcockian comedy thriller in the vein of The Lady Vanishes about two Land Girls who team up with a couple of demobbed fighter pilots to foil a sinister post-War plot." There's a trailer available as well as a 4-minute excerpt, which sounds quite fun. Hopefully there will be more shortly.

Random scans this week are on the subject of sleep and sleeping...

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Art of Reginald Heade (Special Edition)

I reviewed the original edition of The Art of Reginald Heade by Stephen James Walker when it was originally published in January 2017. A bumper compendium of stunning art by one of the best cover artists to grace British books. I said at the time that "this is everything the Heade collector could want," and praised the book for being "astonishingly complete for those covers we know about." Complaints? Some of the images could have been larger and a handful – a small handful – were reproduced from very poor scans.

Well, there is now a Special Edition, which almost doubles the original 168 pages, answering my plea about "wanting more" and fixing most of the reproduction problems with new and better scans. Some images that were small are now larger, notably scarce items such as his colour illustrated Treasure Island, which had 28 plates and a cover spread over not quite two pages, which now appear over eight pages. The reproduction appears better on at least some of the images that have not changed (I've not gone through the whole book with a magnifying glass... but I've gone through some of it).

But the real bonus is the number of additional images, over 400 according to the back cover. While Heade's paperback covers were well represented in the earlier edition, this latest version adds a few previously missing Hamilton and Brown Watson titles, and fills in the gaps left last time in the Timothy Trenton novels published by various printers for Gaywood.

The greatest expansion is probably in reproductions of dust-jackets for adult and children's books. The original book had 18 pages of hardbacks to the Special Edition's 54, and his earliest work displayed now dates back to 1932 rather than 1936. The one thing that might strike you is how accomplished Heade was as an artist from the very start. and how he captured the essence of femininity in his female models. His male models were perfunctory in comparison, usually placed behind the woman who was the focus of the image.

The children's section is expanded from 20 pages to 76, with a great many more reproductions and some interesting examples of unused alternative colour art from a couple of books.

Add a bonus gallery at the end, and the additional 150 pages offer almost a new book's worth of Heade's fantastic artwork. I said in my original review that "To have all these rare book covers in one place fulfills a collector's dream." That now goes (almost) double for the Special Edition.

The Art of Reginald Heade Special Edition. Telos Publishing ISBN 978-1845-83116-5, 24 August 2018, 318pp, £50. Available from the publisher or via Amazon.

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

 Rebellion releases for 12 September 2018.

2000AD Prog 2098
Cover: David Millgate
JUDGE DREDD: THE BOOTH CONSPIRACY by TC Eglington (w) Staz Johnson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SURVIVAL GEEKS: SLACK N' HASH by Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby (w) Neil Googe (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Ellie De Ville (l)
THE ORDER: THE NEW WORLD by Kek-W (w) John Burns (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
MECHASTOPHELES: TRUE FAITH by Gordon Rennie, Lawrence Rennie (w) Karl Richardson (a) Simon Bowland (l)
GREY AREA: EVERY DIRTY JOB by Dan Abnett (w) Mark Harrison (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Terry Wiley (1961-2018)

Terry Wiley, the Newcastle-based artist, died at a hospice in South Shields after a two-year battle with cancer on the afternoon of Saturday, 8 September 2018, aged 56. He is best remembered for his independent comics More Tales From Sleaze Castle and Petra Etcetera. The former won the Comic Creators' Guild Award for Best Small Press comic in 1994, while the latter won the Knockabout Award for Best Independent British Comic at the National Comics Awards in 2001 and was nominated again in 2002.

In 2010, Rich Johnson (Bleeding Cool) named him his favourite comic creator of all in an article titled "The Greatest Comic Creator You May Never Have Heard Of". "His writing reminds me of Alan Moore on BoJeffries Saga and Skizz, of Kieron Gillen on Phonogram, of Roger Langridge on The Muppet Show," said Johnson. "His art a beautiful amalgamation of Paul Grist, Dave Sim, Posy Simmonds, Leo Baxendale, Jamie McKelvie and Bryan Talbot – and he can, if he wishes, imitate many a style. And also he’s a star colourist and letterer."

Brian Talbot said in 2015: “Quite frankly, nobody else produces comic stories that are anywhere similar to Terry Wiley’s. They are unique, well-crafted, character-driven comics, filled with humour, incident and emotion and populated largely by a cast of distinctly individual female characters. In a medium that’s still, in the English-speaking world at least, largely considered by the general public to be dominated by male adolescent power fantasies, Terry’s stories are firmly set outside this geek boy’s locker-room territory.”

Born  in Newcastle upon Tyne on 9 November 1961, he started drawing comics when he was five. Wiley and school friend Adrian Kermode, who met in 1979, created a science fiction strip, "Amoeba's Playtime" for Lepton, the school magazine. In 1983 he converted it into a game for the 48K Spectrum.

Wiley first came to notice with More Tales From Sleaze Castle (later shortened to just Sleaze Castle) (9 issues, 1989-99), written by Dave McKinnon, featuring Jocasta "Jo" Dribble, perpetual student working on an M.A. in Televisual Studies, her family – mum Poppy, hard-drinking sister, Petra – and her friend, albino extra-dimensional Empress of a parallel Earth, Pandadomino "Panda" Quartile, stranded in this realm. The stories meandered from tales of student life at Newcastle University and coping with family crises, to tales of time travel and bizarre encounters with characters such as Ralph (an anteater) and Dweng (a zombie) along the way. It's strong and likeable cast and offbeat storytelling that delighted in surrealistic interludes, earned the comic a steady following.

Released under their own Gratuitous Bunny Comix imprint, it was held back by an irregular schedule, with often over a year between issues. The strip has been reprinted a number of times, including a 3-volume Director's Cut (1995-96; recently reprinted by Markosia in 2016). 

While More Tales was still running, McKinnon and Wiley launched Tales of Sleaze Castle (4 issues 1993-94), a prequel, collected as The Director's Cut #0 (1996; reprinted 2013). Petra, Jo Dribble's younger sister, found solo fame in her own rather more real-world stories, Petra Etcetera, written by Wiley's schoolboy friend Adrian Kermode, first as a back-up in Sleaze Castle and then a 3-issue series (1999-2001); an epilogue written by Kermode in 2005 eventually appeared in a complete edition of the series (2010), a year after Kermode's untimely and early death in 2009. 

The complete sequence – the four-volume Director's Cut and the complete Petra Etcetera, was reprinted as the 480-page The Incomplete Final Cut by Markosia in 2012. There were a number of spin-off comics, including Good Morning Vietgrove (1994), Surreal School Stories (6 issues, 1995-98), a penny-dreadful format of text and illustrations, and Characters! What Are They Like, Eh? (1996).

Wiley later created another comedy soap opera, VerityFair, featuring talented 40-something actress Verity Bourneville, described by Wiley as "a mess, a loudmouth, waver of hands, a pain in the neck, a cack-handed, bath-singing, confabulating pest; she makes up words and forgets to tell anyone what they mean." Verity first appeared in The Girly Comic #19 and the first issue of the comic was serialised on Factor Fiction, the website for The Girly Comic from March 2010.

VerityFair was reviewed by Ed Fortune (here), who thought it Wiley's best work: "The art is strong, the characters are interesting and the plot, though slow, is fun and clever. The tale of one women’s journey through a tough world is never going to fly off the shelves; comic book fans aren’t famed for their love of domestic drama, which is a real shame as it means they’ll miss out on a great read."

VerityFair ran for 6 issues (May 2010-2014) and was gathered together with additional material in two digital volumes VerityFair 1: Custard Creams (2013) and VerityFair 2: Pink Elephants (2014) and a print edition, VerityFair (Borderline Press/Fanfare Press, 2015).

Wiley was a contributor to Super State Funnies (1997) and Borderline ("Miffy", 2001-03). He drew "Trip Into Space" to the Image anthology This is a Souvenir: The Songs of Spearmint and Shirley Lee (2009) and lettered Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, Jane Eyre and other titles for Classical Comics. His work also reprinted in two anthology collections of The Girly Comic: The Girly Comic Book 1 (2012) and The Girly Comic Book 2 (2012).

Wiley continued to support conventions and small press events into 2017.

He is survived by his fiance, Cindi Geeze, who, when announcing his death, revealed that he had been battling cancer of the brain for two years. "He kept the severity of it from everyone, including me, leading us all to believe that he was getting better, that he was beating it. But that’s just how Terry was. He didn’t want to worry anyone. He didn’t want anyone fussing over him. This gentle soul wanted to protect those he loved from the pain and stress of his impending departure from this life. We only knew that things were dire in the last couple of months as his decline started to gain speed."

UPDATE: A very small selection of tributes that have appeared on Facebook and Twitter:

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Harold Piffard

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Harold Piffard was, almost certainly, the only illustrator who also designed, built and flew his own aircraft. It is this for which is he is now remembered, and as an illustrator – he contributed to around 20 periodicals and illustrated at least 175 books in the late 1890s and early 1900s – he is completely forgotten.

He was born on 10 August 1867 at 33 Blandford Square, Marylebone, London, and named Harold Hume Piffard. His father, Charles Piffard (1829-1884) was born in Bengal, and had a career as a barrister, which culminated with his appointment as Clerk of the Crown at the High Court in Calcutta. His mother, Emily Hume (1837-1911) was born in Chelsea – her grandfather was Joseph Hume, an M.P. and political economist. She and Charles had married in Calcutta on 1 June 1858, going on to have four children there: Frederick George Eye (1859-1931); Albert James Guerard (born in 1861 – he became a member of the Royal Indian Marines and, after serving for nearly 30 years, retired in 1907, and died in 1915); Hamilton Adrian Balfour (born in 1862 – he became an actor, dying in Switzerland in 1927); and Reginald Denman Francis (born in 1863 – he joined the Merchant Navy and died in London in 1902).

The family came to London in the mid-1860s, and, before Harold’s birth, had another son, Lawrence Grahame Woodroffe, in 1865. In the 1871 census, only Hamilton and Reginald are present (living with Louisa Bradshaw, a nurse, at 10 Beaumont Street, Marylebone – there is no trace of the other family members, so they may have returned to India.

However, it is known that Harold and his brother Lawrence both entered Lancing College in Sussex, in September 1877, both leaving in July 1888. Harold, nicknamed “Piff” by his fellow-pupils, was rather restless and reckless. In an article in the Lancing College Magazine in 1999, the school’s archivist, Janet Pennington, wrote that, at the age of 12, and being keen on dramatics, “he absented himself from Lancing one winter Sunday afternoon and walked to London, arriving on the Tuesday. He tried all the theatres and music halls, unsuccessfully seeking employment. He slept on the Embankment for several nights before returning to face the wrath of the headmaster…..”

After leaving Lancing, he travelled to India in February 1884, where he worked on a tea plantation, returning to London in 1889, when he entered the Royal Academy Schools. He settled for a while at 5 Fitzroy Square, St. Pancreas, which was his address when he exhibited his first oil painting at the Royal Academy in May 1895. A month after the exhibition opened, he travelled to Scotland where, on 1 June, at St. John’s Free Church, Dundee, he married Helena Katherine Docetti Walker, born in Perth, Scotland, in 1872 and the daughter of Peter Geddes Walker, a J.P. and jute spinner and weaver, and his wife Meta, née Docetti.

The couple moved to 29 Cambridge Avenue, Maida Vale, where they had their first child, Harold Reginald Grahame Sherard, born on 28 May 1896 (he died in Flanders in 1917). They then moved to 18 Addison Road, Bedford Park, Ealing, West London, where they had three more children: Dorothy Helen (March 1898), Ivan Adrian (November 1899), and Grahame Lawrence (October 1900). Unfortunately, it appears that Grahame’s birth may have involved serious complications, as Helena died shortly afterwards, on 27 November 1900, and Grahame himself died on 12 February 1901.

Just over a year later, on 8 January 1902, Harold married Eleanor Margaret Hoile, at the Chapel Royal of Scotland in Edinburgh. Born on 17 April 1871 in Dundee, she was the daughter of John Hoile, a jute and flax merchant. They went on to have one child, Hume, born on 28 July 1905 at 178 High Street, Aberdeen.

In the meantime, Harold had firmly established himself as an artist and illustrator. He had exhibited twice more at the Royal Academy, in 1897 and 1899, and with the Royal Society of British Artists.

His career as an illustrator appears to have begun in January 1894, when he contributed to Lazy Land, published by William Lucas. In April that year he began contributing to The Strand Magazine, and he went on to contribute to several more periodicals throughout the rest of the 1890s, including In Town, Pearson’s Weekly, The Sunday Magazine, The Windsor Magazine, The Illustrated London News, The Osborne, Cassell’s Family Magazine, Pearson’s Magazine and The Penny Pictorial Magazine.

His first book illustrations appeared in 1895, in three novels published by the Tower Publishing Company, and in novels published by C. Arthur Pearson and S.W. Partridge & Co. Over the following four years he illustrated at least a further 20 novels, and from 1900 onwards he became remarkably prolific, illustrating 7 books in 1900, 7 in 1901, 18 in 1902, 11 in 1903, 12 in 1904, 19 in 1905, 23 in 1906 and 17 in 1907. He became most closely associated with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) for whom he illustrated almost 70 novels between 1902 and 1912. He also worked for publishers such as F.V. White & Co., Digby, Long & Co., Cassell & Co., Ward, Lock & Co., Isbister & Co. and Frederick Warne & Co.

Amongst the authors whose books he illustrated were Richard Marsh, George Manville Fenn, Max Pemberton, Bertram Mitford, Guy Boothby, Frederick Harrison, Bessie Marchant, Emily Pearson Finnemore, George Chetwynd Griffith, J.M. Neale and Harry Collingwood. His work covered a wide range of genres, for both childen and adults – historical, adventure, seafaring, school and family stories, romantic novels, thrillers and detective stories and, occasionally, science fiction and the supernatural. In 1908 he began working for Collins on their series of re-issues of  classic novels, which included Thackeray’s The Virginians, Vanity Fair and The Christmas Books; Mrs Henry Wood’s A Life’s Secret; Dickens’s Edwin Drood; and George Eliot’s Felix Holt, the Radical.

Some of his most powerful illustrations were produced for Robert Harborough Sherard’s The White Slaves of England, Being True Pictures of Certain Social Conditions in the Kingdom of England in the year 1897, published by James Bowden in 1897. Most chilling was the frontispiece, “Done to Death”, showing the dead body of 19 year-old Elizabeth Ryan in the Newcastle Workhouse – she had died of white-lead poisoning after working in a local factory for only four months.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, he rarely contributed to children’s annuals and similar books, although it is known that his work appeared in Collins’s Schoolgirls’ Bumper Book and The Victory Adventure Book.

He also began contributing to more periodicals after 1900, including The Quiver, Good Words, Short Stories, The London Magazine, The Idler, The Royal Magazine and Cassell’s Saturday Journal. He was also a minor author, with several local newspapers serializing his story "The Mystery of the Damascus" in 1905.

He was also painting in both oils and watercolours. Two of his best-known paintings were “The Relief of Ladysmith”, painted in 1900, and “The Real Angel of Mons”, painted in 1915/16. In 1916, many newspapers gave away free colour plates of a series of war pictures, including “The Real Angel of Mons” and others such as “Daddy’s Away” and Daddy Returns”, all sentimental but nevertheless powerful. Between 1918 and 1920 he ran a picture gallery at 7 Pelham Street, Kensington. He usually signed his work “Piffard”.

While Piffard was at the peak of his career as an illustrator he was also developing an interest in aviation, beginning with designing and constructing model aeroplanes at his studio in Bedford Park. In 1909 he set out to build a full-size plane, which he transported in sections to a playing field on Hanger Hill Farm, North Ealing. Whilst it flew for a short distance, it was destroyed during an overnight storm. Piffard immediately began designing and building another, this time deciding to fly it from a field at Shoreham, Sussex, close to Lancing College. He teamed up with a solicitor, George Wingfield, to establish the Aviators’ Finance Company Limited, which leased some land and built a hangar. Piffard’s plane, “Hummingbird,” a box-kite biplane, first flew from there in the spring of 1910. Piffard’s activities attracted a lot of interest as well as cynicism – a local pub landlord offered him a crate of champagne if he could fly the length of the field, which Piffard duly collected even though his plane was damaged on landing.

Piffard made several adjustments to his plane, and made several more short flights, despite crash-landing a few times, but in October 1910 he crashed again and his plane was damaged beyond repair. He immediately decided to build a plane which could take off from water. He returned to Shoreham in the summer of 1911, where he utilized a disused lifeboat shed on the beach to put together a hydroplane fitted with air bags. While its early trials on the water were successful in terms of its buoyancy, it eventually capsized and sank. Unable to raise the money to carry on, he was obliged to retire from aviation. In the meantime, the field he had rented at Shoreham had become the Shoreham and Brighton Aerodrome, the first airport in the UK to be granted a commercial license.

(For more on Piffard’s early endeavours and on Shoreham Aerodrome, see A Brief History of Shoreham Aviation)

Piffard subsequently did very little in the way of illustration. In 1917 he began contributing to Canada in Khaki, a three-part periodical celebrating Canadian troops’ role in the First World War, but hardly anything by him after that is recorded, other than a contribution to The Wide World Magazine in 1927, and some illustrations for a story by Winifred Norling in 1935.

Piffard and his wife remained at 18 Addison Road until Piffard’s death, which occurred at St. Thomas’s Hospital, Lambeth, on 17 January 1939. He left an estate valued at £3,328 (around £185,000 in today’s terms). He was buried in Old Chiswick Cemetery, alongside his first wife, Helena, their son Grahame, and Harold’s brother Reginald. (N.B. The gravestone incorrectly gives Harold’s date of death as 1938). His second wife Eleanor moved back to Scotland, where she died at 145 High Street, Montrose, on 20 December 1953.

For someone as prolific as Piffard, as both a painter and illustrator, it is astonishing that he is not better-known. Yet he has been almost completely whitewashed from all the major reference books – he merits only two lines in Simon Houfe’s Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists: “Military painter and illustrator. He worked in Bedford Park, London, and was a prolific illustrator in the style of Caran d’Ache.” (d”Ache, i.e. Emmanuel Poiré, was a French satirist and political cartoonist). This is a travesty – he was not a military artist, and his style was far from being in the nature of cartoon-like or caricature. He deserves far more recognition.


Books illustrated by Harold Piffard
Valdar the Oft-born: A Saga of Seven Ages by George Chetwynd Griffith, C. Arthur Pearson, 1895
Sibyl Falcon: A Study in Romantic Morals by Edgar Jepson, Tower Publishing Co., 1895
Zoraida: A Romance of the Harem and the Great Sahara by William Le Queux, Tower Publishing Co., 1895
Jim’s Discovery, or On the Edge of the Desert by T.M. Browne, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1895
In Quest of a Name by Mrs Henry Wylde, Tower Publishing Co., 1895
The City of Gold: A Tale of Sport, Travel and Adventure in the Heart of the Dark Continent by Edward Markwick, Tower Publishing Co., 1896
A Secret Service by William Le Queux, Ward, Lock & Bowden, 1896
The Missing Million by E. Harcourt Burrage, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1897
The Birthright: Being the Adventurous History of Jaspar Pennington by Joseph Hocking, Ward. Lock & Co., 1897
The Crime and the Criminal by Richard Marsh, Ward, Lock & Co., 1897
The Queen of the Jesters and Her Strange Adventures in Old Paris by Max Pemberton, C. Arthur Pearson, 1897
When the Birds Begin to Sing by Mrs Winifred Cory, C. Arthur Pearson, 1897
The White Slaves of England, Being True Pictures of Certain Social Conditions in the Kingdom of England in the Year 1897 by Robert Harborough Sherard, J. Bowden, 1897
The Dacoit’s Treasure, or In the Days of Po Thaw: A Story of Adventure in Burma by Henry Charles Moore, W.H. Addison, 1897 (re-issue)
Her Royal Highness’s Love Affair by J. Maclaren Cobban, C. Arthur Pearson, 1897 (cover)
Jungle and Stream, or The Adventures of Two Boys in Siam by George Manville Fenn, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1898
The Lost Provinces by Louis Tracy, G. Bell & Sons, 1898
Tom Ossington’s Ghost by Richard Marsh, Bowden & C., 1898
The Destined Maid by George Chetwynd Griffith, F.V. White & Co., 1898
Athabasca Bill: A Tale of the Far West by Bessie Marchant, Sheldon Press, 1899
The Rose of Judah: A Tale of the Captivity by George Chetwynd Griifith, C. Arthur Pearson, 1899
The Signors of the Night by Max Pemberton, C. Arthur Pearson, 1899
The Ruby Sword: A Romance of Baluchistan by Betram Mitford, F.V. White & Co., 1899
The Day of Temptation by William Le Queux, F.V. White & Co., 1899
The Weird of Deadly Hollow: A Tale of the Cape Colony by Bertram Mitford, F.V. White, 1899 (re-issue)
An Aristocratic Detective by Richard Marsh, Digby, Long & Co., 1900
Barcali, The Mutineer: A Tale of the Great Pacific by C. Dudley Lampen, R.A. Everett & Co., 1900
Kate Cameron of Brux, or The Feud by J.E. Muddock, Digby, Long & Co., 1900
A Great Temptation by Dora Russell, Digby, Long & Co., 1900
John Ames, Native Commissioner: A Romance of the Matabele Rising by Bertram Mitford, F.V. White & Co., 1900 (re-issue)
Britain’s Sea-Kings and Sea-Fights by Bertram Robinson, Cassell & Co., 1900 (with other artists)
Griffith Gaunt, or Jealousy by Charles Reade, Collins, 1900 (re-issue)
The Giant’s Gate: A Story of a Great Adventure by Max Pemberton, Cassell & Co., 1901
Dick Dale, the Colonial Scout: A Tale of the Transvaal War of 1899-1900 by Tom Bevan, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1901
Between the Lines: A Detective Story by Burford Delannoy, Ward, Lock & Co., 1901
My Indian Queen by Guy Boothby, Ward, Lock & Co., 1901
Farewell, Nikola by Guy Boothby, Ward, Lock & Co., 1901
Bitter of the Rue by Helen Shipton, Isbister & Co., 1901
A Honeymoon in Space by George Griffith, C. Arthur Pearson, 1901 (with Stanley L. Wood)
The Peril Finders by George Manville Fenn, S.P.C.K., 1902
The Frozen Treasure: A Tale of Arctic Russia by Charles Dudley Lampen, S.P.C.K., 1902
A Bid for Empire by Arthur Griffiths, Digby, Long & Co., 1902
The Boys of Spartan House School: A Story of School and Adventure by Frederick Harrison, S.P.C.K., 1902
The Lover Fugitives: A Romance by John Finnemore, G. Bell & Sons, 1902
Robert Miner, Anarchist by Henry Barton Baker, Ward, Lock & Co., 1902
A Lost Leader: A Tale of Restoration Days by Dorothea Townshend, S.P.C.K., 1902
Earncliffe of Errington by F.B. Forester, S.P.C.K., 1902
Frank Denham, Foreman, or The Light of Life by anon., S.P.C.K., 1902
The Pagan’s Cup: A Country Story by Fergus Hume, Digby, Long & Co., 1902
Dahlia Peploe’s Reaping by Emily Pearson Finnemore, S.P.C.K., 1902
Worth While by Annette Lyster, S.P.C.K., 1902
Venus Victrix and Other Stories by Helen Mathers, Digby, Long & Co., 1902
Lady Joan’s Companion by Florence Warden, Digby, Long & Co., 1902
The Will and the Way by Catherine E. Mallandaine, S.P.C.K., 1902
The Daughter of the Dawn: A Realistic Story of Maori Magic by William Reginald Hodder, Jarrold & Sons, 1902
Bear Cavern by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1902
My Strangest Case by Guy Boothby, Ward, Lock & Co., 1902
Fitz the Filibuster by George Manville Fenn, S.P.C.K., 1903
The Head-Hunters of Christabel: A Tale of Adventure in the South Seas by Alfred Penny, S.P.C.K., 1903
The Boys’ Book of Battles by Herbert Cadet, C. Arthur Pearson, 1903
Spurs and Bride: How They Were Won by Gertrude Hollis, S.P.C.K., 1903
The Mark of Cain by Emily Pearson Finnemore, S.P.C.K., 1903
The New Tutor by Frederick Harrison, S.P.C.K., 1903
A Step in the Dark by Catherine E. Mallandaine, S.P.C.K., 1903
Frank Warlegh’s Holidays by Achilles Daunt, S.P.C.K., 1903
Carita by Eyre Hussey, Jacob, 1903
Theodora Phranza, or The Fall of Constantinople by John Mason Neale, S.P.C.K., 1903 (re-issue)
Living London by George R. Sims, Cassell & Co., 1903 (with other artists)
Harter’s Ranch by F.B. Forester, S.P.C.K., 1904
Mr Quixley of the Gate House by Percy James Brebner, Frederick Warne & Co., 1904
The Witches of Westover Cove: A Story of the South Coast by E.E. Cowper, S.P.C.K., 1904
Nell Garton by Jessie Challacombe, S.P.C.K., 1904
Enderly Park: A Tale by F. Bayford Harrison, S.P.C.K., 1904
Constance’s Fortune by A.E.D., S.P.C.K., 1904
Yew Tree Farm: A Story of a Separate Career by Bessie Marchant, S.P.C.K., 1904
Mary Louisa Quayne, or A Belated Love Affair by Emily Pearson Finnemore, S.P.C.K., 1904
Home Fetters by Raymond Jacberns, S.P.C.K., 1904
The Evil That Men Do by M.P. Shiel, Ward, Lock & Co., 1904
Miss Brent of Mead by Christabel R. Coleridge, Isbister & Co., 1904
The Broken Vow: A Story of Here and Hereafter by W.J. Knox Little, Isbister & Co., 1904 (re-issue)
Rupert Dudleigh: A Story of Old Brighton by Frederick Harrison, S.P.C.K., 1905
The Mysterious Mr Punch: A School Story by G.E. Farrow, S.P.C.K., 1905
Duchenier, or The Revolt of La Vendée by John Mason Neale, S.P.C.K., 1905
The Silver Pin by Alfred Wilson-Barrett, Ward, Lock & Co., 1905
The Coplestone Cousins by Amy Key, S.P.C.K., 1905
A Little Princess: The Story of Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Frederick Warne & Co., 1905
The Haunted Mill on Birley River: The Story of a South Coast Creek by E.E. Cowper, S.P.C.K., 1905
The Jackal by Coulson Kernahan, Ward, Lock & Co., 1905
The Great Ruby: A Tale of Adventure by T.W. Hanshaw, Ward, Lock & Co., 1905
The Fall of the Grand Sarrasin: Being a Chronicle of Sir Nigel de Bessin, Knight by William John Ferrar, S.P.C.K., 1905
For Love of Her by Buy Boothby, Ward, Lock & Co., 1905
The Conquering Will by Silas K. Hocking, Frederick Warne & Co., 1905
Ben Pipe’s Sowing by Emily Pearson Finnemore, S.P.C.K., 1905
Rosamund’s Girls: A School Story by M. Bramston, S.P.C.K., 1905
Mona: A Manx Idyll by Esmé Stuart, Jarrold & Sons, 1905
The Man with the Opals by Alfred Barrett & Austin Fryers, Ward, Lock & Co., 1905
Stories of the Crusades by J.M. Neale, S.P.C.K., 1905 (re-issue)
Le Chevalier de Maison Rouge by Alexandre Dumas, Collins, 1905(?) (re-issue)
Round the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, Collins, 1905 (re-issue)
Meshes of Mischance by Gilbert Wintle, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Dick Leslie’s Luck: A Story of Shipwreck and Adventure by Harry Collingwood, S.P.C.K., 1906
A Queer Affair by Guy Boothby, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
The Race of Life by Guy Boothby, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Sealed Lips by Marie Connor Leighton, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Cold Blow Corner by Phoebe Allan, S.P.C.K., 1906
The Counterstroke by Ambrose Pratt, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Grit and Pluck, or The Young Commander by William Charles Metcalfe, S.P.C.K., 1906
Daybreak: A Story by J.E. Henderson, S.P.C.K., 1906
The Aerial Burglars by James Blyth, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
The Gold Hunters by W.J. Marx, S.P.C.K., 1906
Granfer Garland by Phoebe Allen, S.P.C.K., 1906
The House Over the Way by Alfred Wilson-Barrett, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
The Eagles by Paul Urquhart, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Under One Standard, or The Touch That Makes Us Kin: A Story of the Time of the Maori War by H. Louisa Bedford, S.P.C.K., 1906
Agnes de Tracy: A Tale of the Times of St. Thomas of Canterbury by J.M. Neale, S.P.C.K., 1906
The Luck of Haviland, or Hayland’s Waste by Theodore Corrie, S.P.C.K., 1906
The Counterstroke by Ambrose Pratt, Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
The Disappearance of David Pendarve by E.E. Cowper, S.P.C.K., 1906
The Polyphemes: A Story of Strange Adventures Among Strange Beings by F. Hernaman-Johnson Ward, Lock & Co., 1906
Hunting the Skipper, or The Cruise of the “Seafowl” Sloop by George Manville Fenn, S.P.C.K., 1906 (re-issue)
The Silence of Dean Maitland by Maxwell Gray, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1906 (re-issue)
Dead Man’s Rock by Arthur Quiller-Couch, Cassell & Co., 1906 (re-issue)
The Kingmakers by Armiger Barclay, Cassell & Co., 1907
Frank and Fearless, or Adventures Amongst Cannibals by William Charles Metcalfe, S.P.C.K., 1907
Philip Okeover’s Page-hood: A Story of the Peasants’ Rising by Gertrude Hollis, S.P.C.K., 1907
Darling of Sandy Point by Bessie Marchant, S.P.C.K., 1907
Geoffrey Harrington’s Adventures by Harry Collingwood, S.P.C.K., 1907
Barbara’s Behaviour: A Story for Girls by M. Bramston, S.P.C.K., 1907
The General and His Daughter by Frances Armstrong, S.P.C.K., 1907
The Ordeal of Susannah Vantham by Emily Pearson Finnemore, S.P.C.K., 1907
The Forgotten Door: A Tale of A.D. 70 by Frank Cowper, S.P.C.K., 1907
Naomi’s Transgression by Darley Dale, Frederick Warne & Co., 1907
Wilful Jenny by E.B., S.P.C.K., 1907
The Story of Dorothy by L.E. Tiddeman, S.P.C.K., 1907
Crags of Duty by Emilie Vaughan Smith, S.P.C.K., 1907
Why Jane Matcham Disappeared by Michael Carane, Ward, Lock & Co., 1907
In Cause of Freedom by Arthur W. Marchmont, Ward, Lock & Co., 1907
The Devil on Two Sticks by Alain René Le Sage, Sisley’s 1907(?)
Verner’s Pride by Mrs Henry Wood, Collins, 1907 (re-issue)
Heroine or ? by Isabella L. Looker, S.P.C.K., 1908
Blown Out to Sea by William Charles Metcalfe, S.P.C.K., 1908
Diana’s Decision by Alice Wilson Fox, S.P.C.K., 1908
The House with Dragon Gates: A Story of Old Chiswick in 1745 by E.E. Cowper, S.P.C.K., 1908
London in the Sixties by One of the Old Brigade (i.e. Donald Shaw), Everett & Co., 1908
The Virginians by W.M. Thackeray, Collins, 1908 (re-issue)
A Sack of Shakings by Frank Thomas Bullen, Collins, 1908 (re-issue)
De Montfort’s Squire: A Story of the Battle of Lewes by Frederick Harrison, S.P.C.K., 1909
The Marquis’ Heir: A Tale of the Early Years of the French Revolution by Arthur Holland Biggs, S.P.C.K., 1909
Reuben the Fisherman: A Lowestoft Romance by William Webster, S.P.C.K., 1909
Dick Trawle, Second Mate by William Charles Metcalfe, S.P.C.K., 1909    `e
Mr Punch and Party by H. Louisa Bedford, S.P.C.K., 1909
Harum Scarum’s Fortune by Esmé Stuart, Jarrold & Sons, 1909
For the Sake of Kitty by Christina Gowans White, Collins, 1909
Elise Venner by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Collins, 1909 (re-issue)
Legends and Lyrics by Adelaide Anne Proctor, Collins, 1909 (re-issue)
Odin’s Treasury by William Victor Cook, S.P.C.K., 1910
Jenkyn Cliffe, Bedesman by Gertrude Hollis, S.P.C.K., 1910
The White Elephant by William Dalton, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
Felix Holt the Radical by George Eliot, Collins, 1910 (?) (re-issue)
Mabel Vaughan by Maria Cummins, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
A Life’s Secret by Mrs Henry Wood, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
Gems from Longfellow, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
Two Marriages by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
The Doctor: A Study from Life by H. De Vere Stacpoole, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
Redwood Ranch by Bessie Marchant, S.P.C.K., 1911
The Story of Helen by M.F. Hutchinson, S.P.C.K., 1911
Study Number Eleven: A Tale of Rilton School by Margaret Kilroy, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1911
The House of the Oak by Henry Albert Hinkson, S.P.C.K., 1911
Vanity Fair by W.M. Thackeray, Collins, 1911 (re-issue)
Brandon Chase: A Tale of East Anglia by William Webster, S.P.C.K., 1912
Gentleman Jack: An Adventurer in East Africa by Henry Albert Hinkson, S.P.C.K., 1913
Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, Collins, 1914 (re-issue)
Christmas Books by W.M. Thackeray, Collins, 1925(?) (re-issue)
The Riddle of St. Rolf’s by Winifred Norling, Hutchinson & Co., 1935