Friday, 28 April 2017

Leo Baxendale 1930-2017

I was saddened to hear of the death a few days ago of British comics legend Leo Baxendale. At DC Thomson he was the original artist on Little Plum, Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids and The Three Bears. He left Thomson's to start Wham! for Odhams where his work included Eagle Eye Junior Spy, a strip that introduced the wonderfully named Grimly Feendish. Grimly got his own strip in Smash! where Leo also drew Bad Penny. He later took over The Swots and the Blots which I read every week when Smash! merged with Valiant. Later IPC work included Clever Dick in Buster and Sweeny Toddler in Shiver and Shake. He was a pioneer of creator-owned characters with Willy the Kid in the late 70s.

You can read Lew Stringer's tribute on his wonderful Blimey! blog, which also contains further links.

Leo was interviewed for the first episode of Comics Britannia in 2007.

In June 1975, IPC launched a new, themed comic called Monster Fun. The four centre pages could be removed, cut and folded to make a mini, eight page comic called the Badtime Bedtime Book. Baxendale worked on these until the end of 1975 at which point he stopped working in weekly comics to devote his time to writing and drawing his new character Willy the Kid in album form.

Now, here for your enjoyment, from November 1975, is The Underwater World of Jacques Custard. (Click for larger images).

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Weekly Art of Diving - S.N.O.R.K.E.L. Part 7

Here it is! The exciting conclusion!

That's all from Johnnie and the S.N.O.R.K.E.L. team for now but they'll return to The Art of Diving soon.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Commercial Art of Diving

Diving was often a popular subject matter for print ads back in the '50s and '60s. These three were all done in a cartoon style.

1956. Drawn by Ted Key (Theodore Keyser, 1912-2008). Key is best known as the creator of Hazel, a single-panel cartoon that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and was later syndicated in newspapers. He also created the Peabody's Improbable History segment for the animated series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

This 1958 ad for Crane Valves is by Stan Ekman (1913-1998) who more commonly worked in full colour. He painted covers for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Colliers and produced a number of ads for RCA Whirlpool fridges and washing machines. His most widely seen work is undoubtedly the American Airlines logo.

This ad from 1960 announces the attendance of the R.D. Wood Company at the American Water Works Association's annual conference. I'm afraid I don't know the identity of the artist but I'm sure you'll be delighted to learn that the company were manufacturers of the Matthews Fire Hydrant.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Weekly Art of Diving - S.N.O.R.K.E.L. Part 6

It's that time again! More undersea action with Johnnie Webb and S.N.O.R.K.E.L.

Come back next Wednesday for the exciting conclusion!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Weekly Art of Diving - S.N.O.R.K.E.L. Part 4

Johnnie and Slim were in trouble when we left them last week...

The excitement continues next Wednesday!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Two of a Kind - Peter Arno

Peter Arno (Curtis Arnoux Peters Jr. 1904-1968) was a cartoonist famed for his work on the New Yorker magazine. He produced 99 covers and many interior illustrations. One 1941 cartoon by Arno and one of his gag writers coined the phrase "back to the drawing board".

This cover is from 1956. (Click for larger image).

I know this 1943 cartoon doesn't feature diving per se but it's a great image so I'm sure you'll indulge me. It was one of Arno's most celebrated cartons and Man in a Shower was the title of one of the many collections of his work.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Weekly Art of Diving - S.N.O.R.K.E.L. Part 3

Time for some more exciting underwater action with Johnnie Webb!

What will happen to Johnnie and Slim now? Find out next Wednesday!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Financial Art of Diving

Today's blog features a selection of ads for financial companies.

1963. I always forget my crowbar when I go diving. Just as well I never find any treasure!

1967. Looks to me like she's got her hair caught in her tank valve and he's having to sort it! Still, at least they can laugh about it, knowing their finances are taken care of. Smug b********!

This 1985 ad is one of a series for New England Life by Rowland B. Wilson (1930-2005). He also illustrated children's books and had cartoons published in the likes of Playboy, Esquire, The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. In the 70s he worked for Richard Williams' animation company in London and later worked as a pre-production designer for the Walt Disney studio. You can see some of his work for The Little Mermaid here. (Click for a larger image).

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Art of Diving for Younger Readers Part 2

No Gulliver Guinea-Pig this time I'm afraid but some covers from books aimed at younger children.

First up is Dougal the Deep-Sea Diver. There's on old blog by author and illustrator Simon Bartram here.

The Bailey School Kids is a long-running series where the eponymous children constantly suspect their teachers are really mythical creatures such as vampires and werewolves. In this particular book it's their new swimming teacher, Nessie Mc Farland, who comes under suspicion. Can you guess who or what they think she is?!

Finally we have James Dean's Pete the Cat. Dean has been painting Pete for ten years and has a website here. You can read an extract from Scuba-Cat here.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Weekly Art of Diving - S.N.O.R.K.E.L. Part 1

By mid-1970 the once-great TV21 was dying a lingering death. Issue 38 of the second series had seen the last Gerry Anderson strips  to appear in the magazine and issue 39 saw a revamp with some new stories. One of these was S.N.O.R.K.E.L. which featured the underwater exploits of diving instructor Johnnie Webb. The first story ran for 15 instalments which I'm going to be bringing you over the next seven weeks.

The art is by José Ortiz Moya (1932 - 2013). You can read more about him here.  The strip was chosen to feature on the cover for issue 39 which was painted by Alan Willow.

I'm starting off this week with the first three parts of the story (Click for larger images).