Saturday 26 December 2015

The Art of Diving with Dolphins - The Gun Runners

For the final blog of 2015 we're going back to Christmas 1959 when thousands of children all over the UK would have received the Topper Book for 1960 amongst their presents (The book didn't actually have the year on the cover but it was the standard for annuals to be dated for the year to come). One of the adventure strips inside was Dive With the Dolphins which had finished its seven-month run in the weekly comic earlier in 1959 (Regular Art of Diving readers will know that the strip had started life in 1955 as Lucky Dicky Dolphin). Once again, Skipper and Dicky get the lion's share of the action but Sue's quick thinking helps save the day. The artwork is by Bill Holroyd (1919 - 2000). Click for larger images.

William Henry "Bill" Holroyd began his career at a Manchester advertising agency in 1937. After serving with the Royal Artillery during World War II he began freelancing for DC Thomson. Initially working for a number of smaller publishers as well, he soon became excusive to Thomson's where his brother Albert was a staff artist. Speaking of family connections, their sister Elizabeth was married to fellow Dandy and Beano artist Ken Reid. Equally at home drawing humour or adventure stories, Bill is probably most associated with The Dandy where his many strips included Screwy Driver, Spunky and his Spider, Brassneck and Jack Silver. However, his work also appeared in The Beano (The Iron Fish, Red Rory of the Eagles), The Beezer (The Voyage of the Bushwacker) and even in Bunty where he was the original artist on The Four Marys.

As an extra Christmas treat, here's an example of Bill's work on the weekly Dolphins strip from January 1959.


Thursday 17 December 2015

Speargun Special part 3

In the final part of our look at spearguns we get right into the action!

Nick Carter was "Killmaster", Mack Bolan was "The Executioner" and Remo Williams was "The Destroyer". Poor old Mark Hardin must have turned up late to the meeting and got lumbered with "The Penetrator"! Still, he featured in at least 49 books so he must have been doing something right. This edition is from 1976 (Click for larger image).

George Wilson painted many of the early covers and you can see his original below. Can you spot the difference?

If you're interested in series like The Penetrator then I recommend you take a look at the Glorious Trash blog.

No look at spearguns would be complete without something from 007 so here's a simple but striking audiobook cover of Thunderball by Paul Baack.

I think the fella on this 1976 Italian magazine cover is going to need a bigger speargun! (Click for larger image).

Deathstroke was originally created as a villain in DC's Teen Titans series but was popular enough to get his own series. This 1993 cover is by Steve Erwin and Will Blyberg.

This 1962 cover is by Vic Prezio.

Those plucky Sea Devils have swum straight into an ambush on this 1963 cover by Russ Heath. Jack Adler was the colourist and also responsible for the grey washes that add so much atmosphere.

The Dark Knight was a distant memory for much of the fifties and sixties with Batman more likely to be found battling aliens and monsters. Sheldon Moldoff drew this cover and the story inside. Interior inks by Charles Paris. The story was written by Bill Finger who is finally getting the recognition he deserves as the man who created much of the Batman mythos. (Click for larger images).

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Speargun Special part 2

Part two of our look at spearguns and spearfishing.

This 1956 ad for Voit scuba equipment is typical of the times in featuring spearfishing, as can be seen by the cover of the U.S. Divers/Aqua Lung catalogue from the same year.

All the years I've been trying to impress the ladies and I never realised the secret was to dangle a dead fish in front of them! Mind you, things might have moved on since 1966.

Not sure why that diver is trying to spear that nice ray on B Knight's Ladybird Books cover from 1967. Bad diver!

The diver on this 1976 stamp from Grenada certainly has a long speargun. Must be compensating for something! And spearfishing obviously makes you go bald so don't do it! It's not worth the risk!


Tuesday 15 December 2015

Speargun Special part 1

I'm not a big fan of spearguns and spearfishing but there's no denying they've been a staple of underwater illustration over the years and I'll be showcasing some examples over the next couple of days. We'll start with some of the more humorous efforts.

This first page comes from a 1957 issue of The Topper. David "Davey" Law (1908-1971) is best known for creating Dennis the Menace in The Beano but he also created Beryl the Peril and later Corporal Clott in The Dandy. (Click for a larger image).

This 1965 Archie page was drawn by Harry Lucy with inks by Marty Epp. Lucey was the main artist on the flagship Archie title from the late '50s until the mid 70s. In this story Archie is having trouble with jealous boyfriends at the beach. (Click for a larger image).

George Gately's Heathcliff first appeared in American newspapers as a single panel cartoon in 1973. In 1985 he appeared in a series from Marvel under their Star Comics imprint aimed at younger readers. Gately drew a variation on this cover a few years later for the same series.

All I can tell you about the next two covers is that Cucciolo means "puppy". They date from 1956 and 1964 respectively. (Click for larger images).

Richie Rich was Harvey Comics' most popular character for many years and appeared in over 50 different titles. Although many of those were one-offs or short runs that's still an impressive feat. I'm not sure exactly what purpose those cylinders on Richie's back are serving on this 1968 cover.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

The Avenging Art of Diving

Today's post features The Avengers. No, not those ones - it's Steed and Mrs. Peel!

This comes from an April '66 issue of TV Comic and is drawn by Pat Williams. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much information available about the artist - unless you know different!

(Click for larger images).


Sunday 22 November 2015

My What a Whopper!

Today's post showcases some encounters with particularly big sharks.

Once again I'd like to thank Chris for these first two covers (Click for larger images).

Cold Blue Death (1970) was the first adventure featuring William Martin, codename Tiger Shark, an agent of The Secret Underwater Service. I think this one definitely wins the prize for biggest shark!

Judging by this review (scroll down), the cover is probably the best thing about Rip Tide (1984).

1953. Painted by Fred Freeman. I'm not sure my trunks would still be white in those circumstances!

Ironically given the title of this post, I'm afraid I only have small scans of the next two covers.

1957. This is the odd one out as it features a Whale Shark. Being a plankton eater it would be no danger to divers.


Monday 16 November 2015

Two of a Kind - De Kiekeboes

I'd like to thank Chris for bringing the subject of today's entry to my attention and for sending me the images.

De Kiekeboes (originally just Kiekeboe) is a comic strip created by Belgian artist Robert "Merho" Merhottein. It follows the adventures of the Kiekeboe family - Marcel, his wife Charlotte, daughter Fanny and son Konstantinopel. Running since 1977, the Dutch (Flemish) language strip appears in two newspapers with album versions following later. A new volume appears every three months and they sell over 100,00 copies each. As of August 2015, 143 albums have been published. Despite its domestic success, various attempts at publishing the strip in other languages have proved short-lived.

Volume 49, De Medusa-stichting (The Medusa Foundation), was originally published in 1990.

Current editions of the album carry the De Kiekeboes branding, as do those of volume 58, Haaiman (Sharkman), which first appeared in 1992.

The stories sometimes feature science fiction or fantasy elements, in this case a man who turns into a shark. Or possibly vice-versa! I plan to look at the stories and their diving sequences in more detail in future entries.


Saturday 7 November 2015

The Gang-Busting Art of Diving

Gang Busters (called G-Men for the first six months) was an American radio show that ran from 1935 - 1957. There was also a 1942 movie serial and a short-lived TV show in 1952. National (DC) produced a comic version from 1947 - 1959 with 67 issues published. The story below comes from issue 47 (1955) and is illustrated by Rip Kirby artist John Prentice.

The underwater action in this tale doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. The depths involved mean the divers, including the police hard-hat diver, would have been badly affected by nitrogen narcosis as well as needing lengthy decompression stops. Still, I'm sure this didn't stop readers enjoying this nicely illustrated story. (Click for larger images).

Monday 26 October 2015

The Puzzling Art of Diving

Here's a couple of puzzle pages for you (Click for larger images).

The first is from a 1966 issue of Sparky.

The second comes from a 1974 edition of Archie's Pals 'n' Gals.


Thursday 22 October 2015

Two of a Kind - Agent X-9

Just a quickie today - two covers from X-9. Both appear to feature action from the strip that gave the magazine it's name - Secret Agent X-9 (later renamed Secret Agent Corrigan).




Thursday 8 October 2015

The Daily Art of Diving - Rip Kirby

A short while ago I featured the Agent X-9 cover seen below. The main illustration was for a story from the long-running Rip Kirby comic strip. Today I'm going to take a look at that story, Secret of the Shark, which originally appeared in US newspapers in 1973.

While on a trip to the Caribbean, private detective Rip Kirby is playing golf with his assistant Desmond. Puzzled by Desmond's new-found skills, Rip demands an explanation.

Tammy suggests Desmond plays golf instead of going snorkelling and takes him to visit a local witch who gives him a magic iguana ear!

While under observation by Owl and Pussycat, Rip wants to know why Tammy is determined to stop anyone from snorkelling in the area. Tammy shows Rip a map that she claims marks the location of a scuttled boat containing a fortune. Owl and Pussycat send their henchman to put Rip out of action but he fails. The attack persuades Rip that there may be something in Tammy's story and they go out in search of the boat.

Just as Rip discovers that the life rings are full of heroin, Owl and Pussycat arrive and hold them at gunpoint. Taking the drugs, they leave Rip, Tammy and Desmond in a sinking boat, just as a tropical storm strikes. The trio don scuba gear and abandon the boat.

The baddies' boat is also caught in the storm and their engine is flooded.

Pussycat thanks Rip for saving her and, with the drugs lost and the others dead, he decides to remain silent about what happened.

Rip Kirby first appeared in 1946 and told how the ex-marine returned from WWII and began his detective agency. It was originally drawn by the great Alex Raymond who had himself just served in the Marines. Before the war he had drawn Secret Agent X-9, Jungle Jim and, most famously, Flash Gordon.

Following Raymond's death in a car crash in 1956, John Prentice was chosen as the new artist. Born in 1920 in Texas, Prentice had served in the navy during the war and had various illustration jobs, including work for DC Comics, before he took over the strip. He continued to draw (and occasionally write) Rip Kirby until his death in 1999 at which point the strip ended.