Monday, 16 September 2019

Once Upon a Dive

A mixture of fairy tales, children's stories and educational features, Once Upon A Time proudly proclaimed on the cover of its first issue that it was "the loveliest paper in the world!" Published by City Magazines from 1969 - 1972, the magazine boasted full-colour throughout its 163 issues. The magazine boasted some beautiful work by artists such as Ron Embleton, Don Lawrence, Phil Mendoza and Jesús Blasco to name but a few.

The first two pieces featured here are by Andrew Howat. The originals are currently for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery: School of Sharks and Sea Turtle and Diver. They also have a brief biography of Howat. (Click for larger images).

The Art of Diving would just like to stress that it does not condone touching marine life!

I'm not sure who the artist is on this next piece. The Art of Diving would also like to stress that it does not condone the collecting of coral!

This final piece was one of three items grouped together under the heading Well, Fancy That!

The statue of Christ featured in an earlier Art of Diving post back in 2014.

Monday, 9 September 2019

The Humorous Art of Diving - Yak Yak

Jack Davis wrote and drew two issues of Yak Yak for Dell's long-running anthology title Four Color. Subtitled A Pathology of Humor, the issues in question were numbers 1186 and 1348, published in 1961 and 1962 respectively. This look at skin diving appeared in the second issue. (Click for larger images).

Monday, 2 September 2019

The Freezing Art of Diving.

The July 1966 issue of  Popular Mechanics carried a feature on a group of scientists recording the sounds made by the Weddell seals of Antarctica. If you'd like to read the article you can find it here.

Artwork by Howard Shafer. (Click for larger images).

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

L'Art de Plongée - La Spirotechnique

When Jacques Cousteau and Émile Gagnan developed the modern demand-valve regulator in the 1940s, Gagnan was an employee of Air Liquide, a French company that specialised in compressed gas. In 1943 Air Liquide made the first two prototypes which were used by Cousteau and Frédéric Dumas to make the film Épaves (Shipwrecks). In 1946 Air Liquide formed La Spirotechnique, a new division dedicated to the mass production of the new equipment. Their first model, the CG45, was marketed using the name Aqua-Lung in English speaking countries. In America they used the name U.S. Divers Company. Subsequently the company adopted the name Aqua Lung International with the U.S. division known as Aqua Lung America.

The pages below are from a 1978 La Spirotechnique Pro Department catalogue. I particularly like the simple, bold cover illustration.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

The Humorous Art of Diving - More Homer

Here's another selection of Henry Boltinoff's Homer strips plus a couple of other characters.

These first two examples were both on sale in November 1960. The first appeared in an issue of Superboy while the second was in the anthology/try-out series Showcase which was in the middle of a run of aquatic features. The previous three issues had introduced the Sea Devils while this issue (#30) began a four-issue run featuring Aquaman. (Click for larger images.)

Before we get onto more Homer, the same issue of Showcase featured another character called Shorty. You might notice that the art style is slightly different and in fact this strip was originally published in 1956 (in My Greatest Adventure).

They seemed to like characters whose names began with "S" as the next issue of Showcase featured two skin divers called Slim and Soapy.

Into March 1961 and Homer was back in the next issue.

From this point on Homer mainly appeared in Aquaman (see the earlier post) but he also popped up in an issue of World's Finest in December 1962 where his blond hair had turned ginger.

Sadly I don't have any more Homer strips to bring you (he did make some other appearances but they didn't feature diving) but I do have more Boltinoff. Look out for a future post featuring a different Shorty, Lucky, Freddie, Stan and Ollie (no not that Stan & Ollie!)

Monday, 12 August 2019

Three of a Kind - Rolf Torring

Rolf Torring's Abenteur was a German pulp series originally published from 1930 - 1939. In that time 445 issues were produced. I haven't been able to find out much about the eponymous hero but have seen him compared to Herge's Tintin. The stories are predominantly set in Southeast Asia and India but Africa, China and South America also feature. The main author was Wilhelm Reinhard using the pen-name Hans Warren, a character in the stories. Subsequent authors also used the Warren name. The original editions lacked the full-colour covers seen here which are later reprints. The English titles are via Bing Translator. (Click for larger images).

Das Meer-Ungeheuer  (The Sea Monster)

Piratengold (Pirate Gold) (Original title: Der Haifisch-König (The Shark King)).

Die Tiefe Schweigt (The Depth is Silent) (Original title: Königin Mangaia (Queen Mangaia)).

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Three of a Kind - Umm... Sharks!

As far as I know the only thing these books have in common is that they feature diving and have a shark on the cover but I thought that's good enough for a Three of a Kind  post!

First up is a collection of stories/articles that originally featured in Men's Magazine and Conquest Magazine between 1956 and 1964 (Click for larger image).

Given the source of the contents, it's perhaps surprising that this was published under Pyramid's Willow imprint which was aimed at a juvenile readership. With stories such as Sharkbait Swimmer, Human Torpedoes and Dive or Die they must have been eager to devour this book! I got my information from the excellent Glorious Trash blog and you can read Joe Kenney's full review here.

This 1962 Spanish publication, which translates as Conquests and Mysteries of the Sea, was an album for a set of 128 collectible cards.

The Secret of Shark Reef, published in 1979, was the 30th book in the long-running Three Investigators series. The books were originally billed as "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators" and this was the last to feature the famous director before his death in 1980. This edition is actually from 1985 and the silhouette of Hitchcock that previously appeared in the top corner has been replaced by a keyhole.

The artist is Robert Adragna who painted covers for books 29 - 43 (the last in the series) as well as providing artwork for new editions of earlier books. You can read more about Adragna on this website devoted to the American editions of the books.

Sunday, 4 August 2019


Pete the Cat is the star of over 60 books and an Amazon Prime animated series. Pete is the creation of artist James Dean who self-published the first book, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, in 2008. Harper Collins purchased the rights in 2010. The first few books were written by Eric Litwin but the majority are by Dean and his wife Kimberley.

Pete the Cat: Scuba Cat sees Pete going on a diving trip on Captain Joe's boat.

Pete gets excited when Joe tells him he might see a seahorse.

As the book is still available I'm not going to post any more images here. If you want to see how Pete's dive goes, and whether or not he finds a sea horse, you'll just have to buy a copy!

There's also a wealth of Pete merchandise available on his own website.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Know the Art of Diving

The Know the Game series of books first appeared in the 1950s. They were originally published by Educational Productions Ltd with modern editions still available from the publisher Bloomsbury. They were usually produced in association with an official body as in the case of Underwater Swimming where it was the British Sub-Aqua Club.

The author was BSAC First Class Diver George F. Brookes with R.B. Matkin providing the artwork. My edition is from the mid-70s but the book was originally published in 1962. Here's a selection of Mr. Matkin's illustrations:

I'm sure most people could imagine what a check-up with a doctor would be like but Messrs Brookes and Matkin weren't taking any chances!

As it was the 60s of course they used a female to model a wetsuit! I'd imagine was probably copied from a photo. I like the completely natural pose!

You can see a selection of 60s and 70s covers from the Know the Game series here.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Fauna Marina

This lovely box artwork is from a set of figures made by the Spanish company Jecsan. Originally issued in the 1950s, they were initially made of rubber and then later of plastic. (Click for larger images)

Thursday, 18 July 2019

The Humorous Art of Diving - Homer

I was tempted to call this "The Homerous Art of Diving" which would have been bad even for me.

From the 40s through to the 60s, Henry Boltinoff produced numerous short filler strips for DC featuring the likes of Casey the CopVarsity Vic, Super-Turtle, Slim, and Shorty. Cap's Hobby Hints was his final strip. Sometimes it seems like they came up with a new character for every strip but many of them did in fact feature more than once. These five Homer strips all appeared, appropriately enough, in various issues of Aquaman  published in 1962-3. (Click for larger images).

Look out for more Homer and other Boltinoff characters, coming soon to The Art of Diving!

Henry Boltinoff (1914-2001), brother of writer and editor Murray, began working as a cartoonist in his teens with his work appearing in The New York American. He also worked on longer strips for DC in the 40s including Leave it to Binky, Buzzy and Dover & Clover. In 1969 he became the writer on teen-humour comics Date with Debbi and Swing with Scooter. He also worked for Harvey Comics and Fawcett Publications as well as drawing several newspaper strips over the years. From 1960 - 1985 he drew the single-panel cartoon Stoker the Broker which appeared in various financial publications. In 1981 this won him an award from the National Cartoonists Society.