Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Extra Special Art of Diving

When the first issue of Eagle was published in April 1950, tucked away at the bottom of page five was a strip called Captain Pugwash which was written and drawn by John Ryan (1921 - 2009). It was considered too young for the readership and was dropped after only 19 issues. That was not the end for the good captain however and he later appeared in other comics, books, the Radio Times and, most famously, a BBC series that used cut-out figures and real-time animation.

Despite the "failure" of Pugwash, the editors of Eagle obviously liked Ryan's work and a new strip appeared in issue 16 and ran for the next twelve years - Harris Tweed, Extra Special Agent. Tweed was a bumbling, accident-prone M.I.5 agent who usually managed to come up trumps thanks to his unnamed young assistant who was only ever referred to as "Boy". These two examples from 1957 show Tweed and the boy in some underwater action (click for larger images).

John Ryan also created Lettice Leef, the Greenest Girl in the School for Girl (and later Princess) which ran for 15 years, and Sir Boldasbrass for Swift. His other TV work includes The Adventures of Sir Prancelot and Mary, Mungo and Midge.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Art of Diving with Dolphins - An Angry Mum!

Back to August 1958 and issue 291 of The Topper we go for another adventure with that plucky diving family, the Dolphins. Once again poor old Sue gets sidelined, this time with a pesky cold. Unlucky Sue!

Art by Bill Holroyd (Click for a larger image).

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Art of Diving in Brass

Before we had scuba gear, underwater work often involved wearing heavy brass helmets that were fed from the surface. Here's a few covers featuring some helmeted heroes!

Ah, where would the Art of Diving be without the old "Diver attacked by Octopus" cover?! This Mr America cover from August 1953 is by Henry Luhrs (1897-1964). As well as being a fine-artist and an illustrator for Cosmopolitan, he also founded the Luhr Boat Company. Here's the printed cover and the original for you to enjoy.

Nowadays people probably associate the name Saga with holidays for older people but it used to be the name of a men's adventure magazine. I don't know the artist of this November '54 cover I'm afraid (Click for larger image).

Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko (b 1927) worked for Charlton Comics before and after his time with Marvel. This Out of this World cover is from 1959 and, once again, I'm presenting the original artwork along with the printed cover (Click for a larger image on the original).

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Art of Diving for Younger Readers

Harold Hare appeared in a number of comics and from 1959 - 64 was the star of Harold Hare's Own Paper (later just Harold Hare) a nursery title aimed at younger readers. The strip below is from the final issue before it was merged with the long-running Playhour.

Gulliver Guinea-Pig seems to have been a popular character, with spin-off books and a board game featuring him, and later appeared in full colour in Playhour. Gordon Hutchings and Phil Mendoza were two of the artists to work on Gulliver but I'm afraid I'm not sure who drew the strip featured here (Click for larger images).

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Two of a Kind - Chanoc

Chanoc was a long-running Mexican comic series that first appeared in 1959. Over 1100 issues were published until circa 1980. The tag-line on the cover promised adventures in the sea and the jungle. The eponymous hero was a fisherman and adventurer, accompanied by his godfather, Tsekub.

The series was originally created from a rejected film script and it eventually proved popular enough to spawn a series of films between 1967 and 1983.

I hope to feature more Chanoc in the future but in the meantime enjoy these covers from 1969 and 1978 respectively. Judging by these examples, Tsekub is partial to a colourful pair of shorts when he goes diving! (Click for larger images).

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Art of DIY-ving

Modern divers have it easy with a wide range of equipment available them, but back in the early days of diving many people made their own gear. This video takes a look at some of this early equipment and the magazines that showed people how to make it:

Here are the covers from some of the magazines featured in the video:

October 1952 (Click for larger image).

July 1953 (Click for larger image).

You can read this magazine online here.

June 1954. Cover by Geoffrey Biggs (1908-1971). Based in New York, British-born Biggs worked for a wide range of publications including Classics Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Liberty and Good Housekeeping.

This magazine can also be found online.

June 1960.

As a bonus, here's the Supreme Divers logo as seen in the video.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Art of Diving with Mantas

The Art of Diving is currently on holiday in the beautiful Maldives.

Yesterday, after 18 years of waiting, I got to dive with Mantas and I thought I'd mark the occasion with a couple of paintings.

Mort K√ľnstler painted this Adventure cover in 1955 and it appeared on the February 1956 edition. If I was the unlucky diver I'd be more worried about the clam holding onto my leg than the harmless Manta Ray swimming overhead but, sadly, they seemed to get some bad press back then.

Limited edition prints of this artwork are for sale on the artist's website.

Two years earlier in April '54, things were equally unenlightened as this John Floherty Jr Cavalier cover shows.

To balance out these negative depictions, here's a photo I took of one of these majestic animals.