Thursday 29 December 2022

The Boy's Own Art of Diving

Here's a selection of covers from The Boy's Own Paper to finish off the year. (Click for larger images).

1951. Art by Robert Hodgson.

Robert Hodgson's design sketch for this issue was up for sale in 2021.

There doesn't seem to be a wealth of information available about Robert Hodgson but Steve Holland has some over on his Bear Alley Blog. Scroll down to see comments from his grandson and others who knew him.

1955. Art by George Bowe.

The "Underwater Thrills" mentioned on the cover refers to an article on the making of Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Despite there being nothing about it in the magazine, the artwork looks to me like it's illustrating the incident where Jacques Cousteau fought off a shark with his camera, something which has appeared numerous times on this blog.

George Bowe is another mystery man but, again, Steve Holland has some information. Other publications he worked for include Eagle, Lion and Boy's World.


I don't know the artist for this last cover but, like many others on this blog, he seems to not really understand how regulators work. This diver's hose appears to be connected directly to the manifold, without a regulator to reduce the pressure. Good luck with that!

The Boy's Own Paper was first published in 1879. It was originated by the Religious Tracts Society and later taken over by the Lutterworth Press, Purnell and Sons Ltd, and BPC Publishing Ltd. Originally published weekly, it became a monthly in 1913 and finally ceased publication in 1967.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

The Humorous Art of Diving - Crowther in Trouble

Look-in, the "Junior TV Times", was a children's magazine that ran from 1971-1994.  In addition to interviews, features and competitions, comic strips based on popular TV shows were an important part of its success. For the first two years of publication, the strip that greeted readers each issue was Crowther in Trouble. Instead of being based on a specific TV show, it featured popular TV presenter/actor/comedian Leslie Crowther and his accident-prone adventures, often featuring his real-life wife Jean and their children. Crowther had spent most of the sixties in the children's variety show Crackerjack and so was a popular face with younger viewers as well as adults. Going into the seventies he featured in The Leslie Crowther Show, followed by the sitcom My Good Woman.

During 1972, several issues of the Look-in strip featured the Crowthers on holiday in Spain. I recently acquired the original artwork for issues 15, 16 and 17 (Look-in reset the numbering each year). My motive for buying them was the strip for issue 17 which is presented here. (Click for a larger image).

The art is by Tom Kerr whose worked graced many publications. He was equally adept at adventure or humour strips and his style was easily recognisable in both. Fleetway/IPC sometimes used him as a fill-in artist and he was able to evoke the look of the regular artists while still retaining his own style. I have fond memories of Kit Carter's Clarks Commandos, an advertising strip that he drew from 1969-1972. A new story would appear every few months and would be published in multiple titles at the same time. Unfortunately, not a lot is known about Kerr but you can read a bit more about him here.

Finally, here's a look at the strip as published:

Thursday 22 December 2022

The Art of DIYving

 Today I'm bringing you two covers from Practical Mechanics, both of which were for articles on making your own underwater equipment. Unfortunately they didn't credit their artists so I don't know who painted these.

The first issue, from January 1955, gives details on how to make an aqualung. I wonder how many people successfully managed it?

A year later, anyone who hadn't drowned themselves could make an underwater housing for their camera. I just had a flood during a trip to the Red Sea so perhaps I'll have a go at making a replacement!

I'm afraid I don't have a copy of the first issue so if you want to make your own aqualung you'll have to look elsewhere. I do have a copy of the second though and you can see how to make your own camera housing here.

Monday 5 December 2022

The Seamless Art of Diving - More Nemrod

Following on from my recent post featuring one of their catalogues, here's a few Nemrod odds and ends.

This box was for a mask but highlights the company's origin as a speargun manufacturer.

This 1967 catalogue is courtesy of Blu Time Scuba History, a wonderful virtual museum of scuba equipment. If you've any interest in the history of scuba gear it's well worth a visit.

If anyone can identify the artist's signature on this next piece I'd love to hear from you.

Finally, this sticker dates from the 1980s.

Thursday 24 November 2022

The Sporting Art of Diving

 First published in February 1966 by Odham's Press, Smash! was a sister paper to Wham! and became part of the "Power Comics" line which featured reprints of various Marvel Comics characters. Odham's had been acquired by Fleetway Publications (formerly the Amalgamated Press) in 1961 and in 1963 became a subsidiary of the newly formed International Publishing Company (IPC). In 1969 IPC revamped their comics line and Smash! was relaunched as a more traditional boys' paper in the same vein as the likes of Valiant and Lion.

One of the strips created for the new Smash! was His Sporting Lordship drawn by Doug Maxted (1914-1999). Labourer Henry Nobbins was the heir to the title of the Earl of Ranworth but before he could inherit the family fortune he had to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors and become a champion sportsman. If he failed the family home, Castle Plonkton, would be sold to Mr. Parkinson who wanted to turn it into a glue factory. One of Henry's tasks was to swim the English Channel and, in this sequence, Parkinson attempts to stop him with the aid of his henchman Fred Bloggs.

Douglas Francis Maxted was born in London in 1914. Aged 11 he emigrated to Australia with his family. He began drawing comics in the 1940s and had his own publishing company for a time. In 1962 he returned to the UK and began drawing for various IPC comics. Most of the strips he drew had a humorous, sporting theme and included Legge's Eleven and Yellowknife of the Yard for Valiant and Nutty Slack and the Sludgemouth Sloggers in Buster. in 1983 he returned to Australia where he painted as a hobby  in his retirement.

Sunday 13 November 2022

The Seamless Art of Diving

Nemrod were a pioneering Spanish manufacturer of diving equipment. They originally made spear-guns but soon expanded to produce a wide range of products. Their Snark III regulator remains the only three-stage regulator ever made. In the United States they were marketed by the Seamless Rubber Company who produced this lavishly illustrated catalogue for 1970. They used the cover again the following year and I'm assuming this also applies to the interior artwork. I'm afraid I don't know who the artist was but I really like the style they employed here.

Thursday 3 November 2022

The Boys' Art of Diving

Today I'm presenting a double treat from the Collins Boys' Annual  that was published in 1960. The cover features a classic "diver and shark" illustration while the endpapers depict an equally classic scene.

Monday 31 October 2022

The Spooky Art of Diving III

 It's been a few years since I did a Halloween themed post so here are a few spooky items to enjoy.

I posted this cover back in May but it's Joe Kubert so I'm sure you won't mind seeing it again, this time with the associated story.

I particularly like the depiction of the ghost on page five.

Teny Henson (usually "Tenny" in US publications) is from The Philippines and worked for Filipino publishers in the fifties and sixties. From the mid-seventies until the mid-eighties, he worked for DC on their war and horror titles. He then moved into animation, working as a storyboard artist on shows such as Animaniacs, X-Men and Tiny Toons.

This 1958 Fantastic cover is one of 32 painted by Edward Valigursky (1926-2009).

After serving in the US Navy, Valigursky studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the American Academy of Arts and the Art Institute of Pittsburg. He worked as an art director for Ziff-Davis, publishers of Fantastic, and Quinn Publishing before going freelance. He produced over 100 covers for Ace Books, particularly for their science-fiction titles (I featured one of them back in 2017). He later moved into advertising and also produced work for the US Air Force and Air National Guard. Five of his paintings are on display in The Pentagon.

Finally, here's an item from a 1963 issue of Boy's World.

Friday 28 October 2022

The Recreational Art of Diving

Another quickie today. This book was published by the Underwater Unit of the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation. Quite a fun cover I thought.


Saturday 22 October 2022

Two of a Kind - Death Wore Fins

 Just a quick one today - two editions of Death Wore Fins by Dale Clark. I'm glad Mr Clark chose "Fins" for the title; "Death Wore Flippers" wouldn't have sounded as good!

1959 first edition:

The first edition also had this image on the spine (on the dustjacket and the actual book).

1962 paperback:

Thursday 15 September 2022

The Art of Keith Watson

When I featured the Sky Shark strip earlier this year, I promised more from artist Keith Watson so here's a couple of nice examples.

In January 1969, City Magazines Ltd launched a companion title to their Gerry Anderson-themed TV Century 21 (aka TV21). The new comic was Joe 90, based on Anderson's latest Supermarionation series which had appeared on UK TV screens in the autumn of 1968. Some people insist on calling it Joe 90 Top Secret but I maintain that the "top secret" stamp on the masthead was simply a nod to the spy-themed nature of Joe's adventures. At the bottom of each page the comic is identified simply as "Joe 90".

The first issue featured Joe in some underwater exploits. The interior art is by Watson but the art on the cover is by Frank Bellamy.

This next strip appeared in the Daily Mirror Book for Boys 1971 (published in 1970).

Keith Watson was born in Ormesby in England in 1935. He joined Frank Hampson's studio in 1958, working on Dan Dare for Eagle. When Hampson left the strip Watson worked on Captain Condor for Lion. In 1962 he returned to Eagle to work as the sole artist on Dan Dare. When he took over the strip it had been relegated to the inside of the comic in black and white but during his time it reverted to colour and regained its place on the front cover.

As Eagle's sales declined, they ceased publishing new Dan Dare strips and began featuring reprints. Watson moved to TV21 where he drew Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons before being assigned to the Joe 90 strip (he also wrote some of the Joe 90 stories). Other work includes The Space Girls in Tina, Battle of the Planets in TV Comic and filling-in for Mike Noble on The Famous Five in Look-in. He also produced advertising art for companies such as Mobil, Raleigh, Volvo and Vauxhall.

In the 1980s he worked on the football strip Roel Dijkstra in the Dutch publication Eppo before reviving the original Dan Dare for the Eagle in 1989 (IPC had launched a new version of the comic in 1982). Sadly, he died of cancer in 1994 aged just 59.