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.

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