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.