Friday 23 November 2018

The Noble Art of Diving Part Two

Before I bring you the conclusion of the Tomorrow People adventure that began in the previous entry, here are some details of Mike Noble's life and career.

Mike Noble was born on the 17th of September 1930 and grew up with a father and brother who both liked to draw. He attended South West Essex Technical College and School of Art studying  commercial art and also attended St. Martin's in London. At 17 he joined an advertising studio, his time there interrupted by his National Service. He found himself in the drawing office of the 8th Royal Tank Regiment.

In 1950, in search of more interesting work, he took a job at Cooper's Studio where he worked with Leslie Caswell, an artist known for his fashion and romance illustrations and who later drew strips for the Daily Herald. Noble's first strip work was Simon and Sally for Robin and at the same time he provided a weekly illustration for Life with Sally in Woman.

In 1958 he began drawing The Lone Ranger in full colour for Express Weekly. Initially a full page, it was later run across the bottom part of the centre pages. He continued to draw the strip when it transferred to TV Comic, this time in black and white line and wash with a single spot colour. He also drew another TV Western strip, The Range Rider, and, in something of a departure, Popeye and Beetle Bailey.

In 1965 he began his association with the worlds of  Gerry Anderson when he started working on Fireball XL5 for TV Century 21. In January 1967 he began work on Zero X, chronicling the ship and its crew that had appeared in the film Thunderbirds are Go. The following January he took over from Ron Embleton  on Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. At this point TV21 had dropped it's newspaper-style photographic covers, instead devoting the space to the Scarlet strip. It has nothing to do with diving but I feel compelled to share this memorable cover from that run.

In October '68 he moved back to Zero X and remained on the strip for the remainder of TV21's original run (the strip actually finished in the penultimate issue).

In late 1969 and early 1970, he did some work for IPC. This included The Justice of Justine in Sally and Four Alone on the Abandoned Island for Cor!! The highlight of 1970 was a memorable six month run on Star Trek for TV21 which had been relaunched following a merger with Joe 90. For most of his run the strip occupied the front cover as well as two interior pages. January 1971 saw the launch of the "junior TV Times" Look-in which featured a mix of articles and comic strips.  Noble followed his former TV21 editor Alan Fennell to the new magazine and began an association that lasted for 15 years.

His first strip was the children's science fiction series Timeslip in full colour. His next strip, Follyfoot, showed off his skill at drawing horses which was also demonstrated in The Adventures of Black Beauty. This was the last work he produced in colour apart from a six week fill-in on Kung Fu. A typical two-page colour strip would take him six days to complete - two days each for pencilling, drawing and colouring. Unfortunately, the demands of nursing a sick parent meant he couldn't devote the time to producing colour work so for the rest of his time on Look-in he worked in black and white (early instalments of his final strip, Robin of Sherwood, were coloured by Arthur Ranson). Other work for Look-in included The Famous Five, The Tomorrow People, Space: 1999 and Worzel Gummidge.

Although he was now retired, in the 90's he produce occasional illustrations for the Gerry Anderson fan club Fanderson and various magazines produced during the renewed interest in Anderson's programmes. His most recent work included a poster for the Blu-ray release of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and an illustration for a forthcoming Captain Scarlet figure. Both of these were in collaboration with Lee Sullivan and you can read his tribute here.

Mike Noble passed away on the 15th of November 2018.

An interview with Mike Noble.

And now, here's the conclusion of the Tomorrow People story. The laser cannon seen in this story is a typical example of Mike Noble Tech!

I promised a bonus strip yesterday and here it is. Enjoy!

Wednesday 21 November 2018

The Noble Art of Diving Part One

One of the finest talents to work in British comics, Mike Noble, passed away last week aged 88. His work featured briefly in an earlier Art of Diving but this two-part entry is my tribute to one of my all-time favourite artists. I'll provide more details of his career in part two but I'm going to start off with a 1975/6 strip based on the popular TV series The Tomorrow People. The strip is from the pages of Look-in, a magazine with which the artist had a long association. The script was by Angus Allen. (Click for larger images).

That's it for today but don't worry, you don't have to wait until next week to see the rest of this story! Come back tomorrow for the conclusion plus a bonus strip from another '70s TV show.

Thursday 15 November 2018

The Art of Underwater Exploration

Here's a bumper blog entry for you to enjoy.

Ladybird Books are familiar to generations of readers from all over the world. In 1967 they published the tenth book in the "Achievements" series, Underwater Exploration. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find out anything about the artist, B. Knight but he produced some nicely atmospheric paintings. (Click for larger images.)

The first edition that I have doesn't carry the famous Ladybird logo but it was added to later editions.

"In the eternal darkness of the deep, lives plants and animals which man has not yet seen. This book describes man's exploration and achievements in this strange world of the sea."

The strange world of the sea

Divers at work on the Royal George

I like the way the diver on the right is just casually standing there below the cannon being winched up!

Diving dress and equipment

A diver about to start work

Working on a wreck

Here one of the divers seems a little concerned by the one-eyed octopus climbing ominously over the railings!

A diver climbs into a decompression chamber

Diving armour - for work at great depths

Behind you! (I think he'll be okay in his armour!)

Escaping from a submarine

Aqualung divers in action

I hope he's not intending to spear that ray. Bad aqualung diver!

Danger approaches

Here's a situation familiar to long-time Art of Diving followers - Cousteau and Dumas and their encounter with an Oceanic White-tip.

Modern divers working on an ancient wreck

Treasure on the sea bed

A bathysphere descends into the unknown

A jet-propelled diving saucer

And finally, here's the good old SP-350 "Denise", aka Cousteau's Diving Saucer.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

The Archie of Diving - The Deep Six

Here's a complete six-page Archie story from 1959 to brighten your day. This story originally appeared in issue 135 of Pep Comics, the title in which Archie made his first appearance in 1942. The Deep Six was written by Frank Doyle and pencilled by Harry Lucey with inks and lettering by Terry Szenics. (Click for larger images).

Harry Lucey (1913-1984) graduated from Pratt University in 1935. He worked in a studio with original Archie artist Bob Montana and they both worked for the publisher MLJ. He worked on characters such as The Hangman and Madam Satan.

After serving in the army he spent several years in advertising before returning to MLJ which was now called Archie Comics. He drew some adventure and romance titles, including the detective Sam Hill, but primarily worked on the teen humour books. He was the main artist on the flagship Archie comic from the late fifties until the mid-seventies. He also drew many house ads for the company.

Like Samm Schwartz he had his own distinct style rather than following the Dan DeCarlo house style and he was a master of body language and physical comedy. Artist Jaime Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame has named him as an influence. In the late sixties he developed an allergy to graphite and reportedly wore gloves while drawing. In 1976 he abruptly retired after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and died of cancer in 1984.

Fun trivia time: Lucey's sister-in-law Betty had briefly dated Bob Montana and was the inspiration for the character of Betty Cooper.