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Friday, July 16, 2021

Comic Cuts — 16 July 2021

I've had another good week on the latest project, which, as I mentioned last week, is taking a look at some of the publishers who appeared during World War Two. I did some work on it at the beginning of the year, thanks to having some access to some of these scarce comics, and I've picked up the baton recently and actually started writing.

I have been working on what it really the second section of the story. I know this because I covered the same ground many years ago, so I know how it all hangs together. I have had to start at part two because I borrowed a ton of comics and, at some point, the owners are going to ask for them back! This part of the story is also a two-parter, of which I've finished the first part. I need to go back in and do a ton of scanning to make sure that I've got everything when I come to start designing these chapters for publication.

In the meantime, I've spent Wednesday and Thursday on a related topic, but a different publisher—Arthur Soloway. He was quite prolific during the war, publishing four different titles, all of them of note thanks to the heavy involvement of the artist Len Fullerton, who was working in his finest Alex Raymond mode on a range of different strips.

What I want to do here is take a brief look at an unknown artist who worked for the same comics. More on that in a second or two.

We've had a maddening time with our phones again. Long-time readers will recall that the phones have been patchy here for some while, culminating in a complete loss of service a few weeks ago. We were told that fixing the problem would potentially involve digging up the road. On Wednesday, the phones stopped working and, a couple of hours later, the internet dropped out. All without warning, I should add.

Then Mel noticed that there was a cherry-picker in the road with a couple of BT engineers fiddling about with the lines. They had disappeared by the time we came back from our evening walk, and both internet and phone lines seemed to be working. However, when I tried to give my Mum a ring on Thursday morning, things got weird. Our line doesn't go 'dead' when we hang up, so anyone who then phones goes through to voicemail, having been told that we are taking or making a call. Just as that happened, we received a text from TalkTalk saying that an engineer had been working on the line and that it might take a few days for things to improve.

So is it fixed or not? As I write this, we cannot call out from the house and anyone calling in gets directed to voicemail. I'm not sure how that will magically improve over the next few days if nobody is actually doing anything. If I asked BT Openreach to replace a lightbulb, would we be told that it might take a few days before the new bulb they've installed lights up? All they've done so far—as far as I can tell—is they've plugged us back into the damaged line again, the one that wasn't working three weeks ago. I can't think of any other reason why we're back to square one and facing precisely the same problem we had before. A giant leap backwards in fixing the problem.

OK, so here are some examples of another little known artist from wartime comics. I don't know the name of this artist, whom Denis Gifford credits as "JRJ". I'm not 100% certain he has it right. I'll post some of the tiny signatures and you can see if you agree with me... I think that maybe the signature is "JR" with a sweeping line afterwards, a bit like a Nike swoosh.

In my favour, the artist only signed a couple of pages of 'Poor Old Pop' that way, and by the time he added 'Nosey Parker' as a little strip along the bottom (very American Sunday papers style) and introduced two other strips, 'Bedtime Stories' and 'Jo the Artful Joker', he had reduced the signature to a tiny glyph linking the initial J and R.

The artist I'm now calling J.R. worked for Soloway during the war and then briefly worked for Swan just after the war, the full extent of his activity beginning and ending between 1943 and 1947. The chances of finding out anything about him (or maybe her, you never know) are slim, but maybe someone will be able to offer up a clue.

(The JR glyph signature can be see on the third pair of images below at the lower right of the title panels.)

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