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).