Sunday 28 September 2014

The Philatelists' Art of Diving

I once tried to impress a girl with my stamp collection. It didn't work. She said to me, "Philately will get you nowhere!"


Anyway, here's a collection of diving related postage stamps. The first two come from the old Soviet Union.

I'm assuming this is the right way up based on the diver's bubbles! 1959.


Not quite sure what's going on in this one from the old East Germany. 1985.

This striking pair from Bulgaria date from 1973.

This Finnish stamp appeared in 1966.

Finally, I'm sure you remember that 2011 was the International Year of Biodiversity. In Serbia they marked the occasion with this stamp.


Wednesday 24 September 2014

The Art of Diving with Modesty - Patrick Wright

When John M Burns was abruptly removed from the art duties on Modesty Blaise, midway through the story Eve and Adam, his replacement was Patrick Wright, the son of David Wright. Originally famous as a pin-up artist with his "Lovelies" during World War II, Wright Sr. went on to draw the Carol Day strip in the Daily Mail from 1956 until his death in 1967. I believe Patrick acted as art assistant on some of the later strips and his own career in comics began in Princess Tina. He later worked for Battle Picture Weekly, Commando, 2000ad, The Crunch and Eagle.

His run on Modesty Blaise was the shortest of all the artists and after finishing Eve and Adam he only drew one complete story, Brethren of Blaise. He subsequently moved on to single panel cartoons and has produced a number of books including Walkies, Worthless Pursuits, 101 Uses for John Major and Affairs of the Heart in addition to work for Private Eye. Although undoubtedly a talented artist, I never felt his style was the right fit for Modesty Blaise and I wasn't sorry to see him replaced by Neville Colvin.

In Brethren of Blaise we see Modesty and Willie forced to dive for sunken treasure in a cave system. As ever, their ingenuity allows them to turn the tables on the bad guys. On the diving side of things, Peter O'Donnell obviously did his homework and the mention of depth, time and decompression stops is accurate. Unfortunately Wright appears to have given Modesty and Willie masks that don't cover their noses. Ouch! Mask squeeze!

(Click on the images to see larger scans).

Monday 22 September 2014

PS It's the Art of Diving

I'm in the middle of a busy couple of weeks on the Ryder Cup but I don't want to neglect the blog completely so here's a quickie for you.

PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly was published by American Visuals Corporation for the US Army and was so named because it was a postscript to their normal technical manuals. The founder of AVC and the magazine's artistic director was comics legend Will Eisner, best known for The Spirit newspaper strip as well as graphic novels such as A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories, The Building, Dropsie Avenue and To the Heart of the Storm. The magazine's sexy cover star, Connie Radd, had previously appeared (as Sergeant Connie Radd) in Army Motors which Eisner had drawn while serving in the US Army during World War II.

Click for a larger image.


Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Impractical Art of Diving

We've already seen in some of my previous entries that artistic licence, coupled with a (possibly) tenuous grasp of how dive equipment works, can lead to some rather odd-looking dive gear. Today I'll highlight a few more examples.

I suppose if your going to have birds scuba diving then all bets are off when it comes to how their equipment would actually work. I'm not sure of there's any connection between these characters or if the similarities are just a coincidence.

From 1976, Cracky is the parrot. His companion is called Mr Kaws.

Date unknown.

You'd think Richie Rich would be able to afford a proper full-face mask! (1982).

Rollo was another little rich boy whose working-class friend was the rather oddly named Rock, a young girl who made him laugh and thus was tolerated by his snobby parents. I don't know how practical Rollo's mask is but, strangely, I find myself wanting one! From 1957, this is the only cover in the series not signed but I'm assuming it's also by Frank Johnson (Click for larger version).

In the eighties, Marvel launched their Star line aimed at younger readers. Now, if you're Chuck Norris I guess you have to be ready for a scrap at a moment's notice, even when diving, but not having any fins must make swimming around a bit of a pain! Art by Alex Saviuk (1987).


Saturday 6 September 2014

The Career Girl's Art of Diving

Patsy Walker first appeared in 1944 in comics published by Timely (later Atlas and then Marvel). Redheaded Patsy appeared in various teen-humour titles with her friendly rival Hedy Wolfe before being granted her own eponymous book. This was followed by a spin-off called Patsy and Hedy. Although the early sixties saw the explosion of Marvel superheroes, they still published the Patsy Walker and Millie the Model books but they were re-invented as romance titles. Patsy and Hedy had "Career Girls" added to the title and the girls became roving reporters for a time. (Click on the images to see larger scans).

Millie the Model survived until the early seventies, eventually reverting to humour, but Patsy Walker was cancelled in 1965 with Patsy and Hedy lasting a further year before ending with issue 110. In issue 108, written by Denny O'Neill and drawn by Al Hartley, the girls were sent to interview their editor's nephew who was captain of his own boat. After his crew deserts him, Patsy and Hedy accompany Mickey on his search for some sunken  treasure. We join the story as Mickey prepares to dive...

Al Hartley was born in new Jersey in 1921. He'd begun working as a cartoonist when the war came along and he flew 20 missions as a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber pilot over Europe. After the war he began working in comics with his first credited work appearing in 1946 on the character Rodger Dodger (not the be confused with the Beano's Roger the Dodger). In 1949 he was hired by Stan Lee at Timely and worked across a range of titles. As Timely became Atlas he began a run on the Patsy Walker books that would last over ten years.

In 1967 Hartley, now a born-again Christian, began writing and drawing for Archie Comics. He later helped found the Spire Christian Comics line for which he licensed the use of the Archie characters. He died in 2003 aged 81.