Archive for the ‘cartoons’ Category

Kitchener, Ernest Noble and the Nignog Club

April 25, 2016
First issue of Kitchener's Army & the Territorial Forces from 1915 written by Edgar Wallace

First issue of Kitchener’s Army & the Territorial Forces from 1915 written by Edgar Wallace

Pick up a magazine and you never know where you’ll end up next. A copy of the first issue of the 6-part Kitchener’s Army & the Territorial Forces arrives in the post. This was a part work published by George Newnes, probably starting in January 1915, though it does not carry a date.  It was written by Fleet Street legend Edgar Wallace.

Magazine's back page advert for Fry's Cocoa by Ernest Noble

Magazine’s back page advert for Fry’s Cocoa drawn by Ernest Noble, which carried the acknowledgement ‘by kind permission of the Northern Echo’

On the back cover is an advert for Fry’s Cocoa drawn by Ernest Noble, which carried the acknowledgement ‘by kind permission of the Northern Echo‘. A search on Noble and the Echo took me to a website about the comedians Morecambe and Wise – and a page dedicated to Ernie Wise and the Nignog Club! As it says:

It is a well recorded fact that Ernie Wise was part of a variety concert party in his youth. Its name has gone into Morecambe and Wise folk law, and is often spoken in hushed tones. It was known as the Nig Nog club, and in these days of political correctness and over-eager internet filters, it’s not a phrase you type into Google with carefree abandon.

The site explains on a page based on material from reporter Chris Lloyd that the club originated in County Durham and was launched by the Darlington-based Northern Echo in 1929 as the Nig-Nog Ring, a children’s club. The ‘Chief Ringers’ were Uncle Mac, BBC broadcaster Derek McCulloch who hosted Children’s Hour, and Uncle Ernest, the Noble of my query who it turns out was from Darlington.

The Oxford English Dictionary cites Beale Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang suggesting that the word was found in army contexts in the sense ‘fool’ from the late 19th century (a ‘nigmenog’) and as a ‘raw recruit’ from c1925. It also notes a possible connection with the Nig-Nog children’s clubs run by local newspapers, ‘following the model of the children’s page of a Birmingham newspaper’, the Evening Dispatch of 1 November 1929:

My Dear Children, I am sure you must be getting awfully excited … about becoming members of the Children’s Ring … The girls will be called ‘Nigs’ and the boys will be called ‘Nogs’ — and if any of you are twins there will be a special name for you. You will be called ‘Nig-Nogs’!

But this policy was changed a few days later:

After Uncle Ernest and I … talked yesterday … we made up our minds that you should all be called Nignogs, so that there will not be any distinction at all between girls and boys.

I leave the Northern Echo and the Evening Dispatch to argue over who came up with the idea. However, ‘uncles’ running children’s cartoons were a traditional form in newspapers – the Daily Mirror‘s ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ were incredibly popular from their founding in the early 1920s, for example.

The Northern Echo is a legendary paper, the place where Sunday Times and Times editor Harry Evans made his name, and before him Ted Pickering, a 1950s editor of the Daily Express, and WT Stead, who as editor of the Pall Mall Gazette was one of the great Victorian crusading journalists and who died on the Titanic. Unfortunately, the Evening Dispatch is no more.

The Lord Kitchener poster

Britain’s national newspapers

Alfred Leete’s advertising characters

March 29, 2016
Alfred Leete's Father William character in London Opinion advertising (1927) for Younger's Scotch Ale

Alfred Leete’s Father William character in London Opinion advertising (1927) for Younger’s Scotch Ale

Alfred Leete was a regular on London Opinion magazine and drew the most famous image of the 20th century – the Lord Kitchener ‘Your Country Needs You’ cover that became the famous poster. No doubt that image will soon be all over the media again as the centenary of Kitchener’s death approaches in June (and I’ve written a book on the Kitchener poster coming out next month from Uniform Press).

Leete was an artist on the George Newnes title from at least 1910. He also did a lot of advertising work and, aside from Kitchener, this led to probably his most famous character – Father William – for William Younger’s Scotch Ale.

Younger’s illustrated adverts in the early 1920s focused on characters who might drink the ale, as several examples from the Shut Up About Barclay Perkins blog show:

William Younger advertising for its Scotch Ale in 1923 from the Nottingham Evening Post

William Younger advertising for its Scotch Ale in 1923

Newspaper cuttings from the Nottingham Evening Post on the same blog suggest Leete’s Father William being used in 1924:

Nottingham Evening Post cutting shows Alfred Leete's Father William character for William Younger Scotch Ale in December 1924

This Nottingham Evening Post cutting shows Leete’s Father William character in December 1924

In 1927, this Lever advert appeared on the back page of All Sports magazine.

Alfred Leete 1927 Lever advert on the back page of All Sports magazine

Alfred Leete 1927 Lever advert on the back page of All Sports magazine

So, Leete was clearly an expert in creating character in print.

Alfred Leete's 1924 Father William character is still used for William Younger's Best beer from Charles Wells today

Alfred Leete’s Father William used today

In the 1930s, Younger’s merged with McEwan’s as Scottish Brewers, which ended up as Scottish & Newcastle in the 1960s. That fell into the hands of  Heineken and the brand is today part of Bedford-based Wells & Young’s.

Incredibly, Leete’s Father William character has retained its appeal since 1924 and graces the pumps for William Younger’s Best to this day.

>> Kitchener, the man and the poster, from Uniform Press in June

 

Arf-a-mo, Bert Thomas decides it’s time for a Christmas tree

December 5, 2015
The Goose Step: Christmas number of the Humorist for 1939 with a Bert Thomas cover

The Goose-Step: Christmas number of the Humorist for 1939 with a Bert Thomas cover

Bert Thomas was one of the most famous illustrators of the First World War – renowned for the grinning Tommy lighting a pipe with the caption ‘Arf a Mo’, Kaiser!

So the weekly Humorist turned to the veteran artist for its first Christmas number of the Second World War. ‘The Goose-Step’ was the result, with the Tommy bringing back a Christmas tree and goose to Estaminet – French for The Tavern. The look in his eye suggests he knows the woman’s waiting for him.

The soldier was probably understood to be a member of the 158,000-strong, but poorly-equipped, British Expeditionary Force, which was sent to France in September 1939. It was stationed on the Belgian–French border until Germany’s blitzkrieg ended what had been called the ‘phoney war’ in May 1940.

It was the Humorist‘s first wartime Christmas cover – and its last. Paper rationing led to the Humorist becoming a small-format monthly before being merged into London Opinion, a sister magazine at George Newnes.

From 1905, the British Cartoon Archive notes, Thomas began drawing for Punch, a link that continued until 1948. He also drew for London Opinion from 1909 until 1954, when that magazine was merged into Men Only. London Opinion is today famed for publishing one of the few cover illustrations more famous than Thomas’s  ‘Arf a Mo’, Kaiser! This was Alfred Leete’s ‘Your Country Needs You’, which became the Great War recruiting poster of Kitchener.

Bert Thomas’s signature is shown below.

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

Bert Thomas's signature from the Humorist, 25 December 1939

Bert Thomas’s signature from the Humorist, 25 December 1939

Teaching history with tentacles

December 2, 2015
Postcard about Landlordism in London in 1928

Postcard about Landlordism in London in 1928 – a topic that rings bells today with the state of the capital’s property market

Donna Seger’s post about teaching world history using octopus maps caught my attention, with its copious images like the one above from books and magazines, as well as maps and postcards, and has links to other octopus articles (tentacles across the web, clearly).

Much more fun than some of the infographics that litter many magazines and newspapers but require so much work to get anything out of.

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

Bairnsfather’s ‘dirty dog’

August 28, 2015
Captain Bruce Bairnsfather’s dirty dog ending from Fragments from France (volume 4)

Captain Bruce Bairnsfather’s dirty dog ending from Fragments from France (volume 4)

Bruce Bairnsfather was a British soldier who made his name as the most popular cartoonist of the First World War with his Old Bill character in the Bystander magazine. Old Bill was a curmudgeonly veteran coping with life in the mud of the Western Front alongside his pals, Bert and Alf. Bairnsfather sent the first sketch in, the magazine printed it, and, Hey Presto!, they had a massive hit on their hands.

The cartoons were collated and republished as a series of Fragments from France books. There were eight volumes, which sold millions of copies across the world and sparked a merchandise frenzy, as well as plays and films. Bairnfather also worked in the US and Old Bill, and his son, were revived in the Second World War as a mascot for the US troops.

I liked this ‘dirty dog’ ending from Fragments from France, volume 4 in August 1917. The bulldog was regularly used to represent Britain and the dachshund Germany (Kaiser Wilhelm had one as a pet). The dachshund was bred to hunt in burrows – the word means ‘badger hound’ – but this one has clearly seen better days.

Last year, military historians Tonie and Valmai Holt published The Biography of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather: In Search of the Better ‘Ole, and began a campaign to seek official recognition for Bairnsfather‘s morale-boosting contribution to the war effort. October 2015 marks the centenary of the first published Old Bill cartoon.

‘The Super Moshis need YOU’ – the powerful language of propaganda

August 25, 2015

The advertising watchdog has criticised Mind Candy for tempting children

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority berated Mind Candy on Tuesday. The offence committed by the online company was using adverts inside Moshi Monsters to encourage the game’s young players to pester their parents for paid add-ons and subscriptions.

The problem has come up before with adverts even in games back in the 1980s, but it wasn’t this that grabbed my attention: it was the wording in the adverts.

Alfred Leete's 'Your Country Needs You' London Opinion cover inspired a Great War advertising campaign

Alfred Leete’s ‘Your Country Needs You’ London Opinion cover

Among the copy used were the phrases ‘The Super Moshis need YOU! Rise to the challenge and join the Super Moshis in their crusade’ alongside prominent calls to action such as ‘JOIN NOW’. This is the language of advertising from the Edwardian era and the propaganda posters of the First World War. The Moshi pages make frequent use of the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ to attract children’s attention and make them feel they are being spoken to directly. A classic market technique in 1914 and still effective now.

Black-and-white artist Alfred Leete used exactly that construction when he did his 1914 London Opinion magazine cover of Lord Kitchener that was taken up so powerfully as a government recruiting poster.

Millions of men volunteered to fight and die in the mud of France, enticed to join up by the ‘Your Country Needs You’ magazine covers and posters. In today’s consumer world, it’s children’s pocket money that the likes of Mind Candy are after with ‘Super Moshis need YOU!’.

Harry Linfield – a down-to-earth side of the Star Trek and Doctor Who artist

June 19, 2015
Harry Lindfield drawing for Annabel magazine in 1966

Harry Lindfield drawing for Annabel magazine in 1966

Type the name Harry Lindfield into a search engine and up will come a gang of results pointing to illustrations for Gerry Anderson-based comics such as Joe 90, TV21 and Lady Penelope from City Magazines and Polystyle’s Countdown. For Lindfield drew Star Trek, Doctor Who and others strips from about 1968 in the great heyday of TV-based comics – when some issues were selling in excess of half-a-million copies a week. The illustration above predates that – it’s from a September 1966 issue of DC Thomson’s monthly Annabel. Lindfield had already drawn strips for the Eagle‘s sister paper Swift at Hulton Press.

A colour centre spread of Star Trek by Harry Lindfield from Joe 90 . Click on the image to find a larger version on Beano cartoonist Nigel Parkinson's website

A colour centre spread of Star Trek by Harry Lindfield from Joe 90. Click on the image to see a larger version on Beano artist Nigel Parkinson’s website

The Gerry Anderson website quotes Look-In writer and TV21 script editor Angus Allan on Lindfield:

[Lady Penelope] went into colour, with an artist – a genius – called Harry Lindfield. If ever I had to choose something that I’d done, and was proud of, those strips would be the ones. Harry was brilliant, and it was a pleasure to write for him. And up went the sales. Not to a million, though. Not ever. But 750,000? That was money to Century 21 and City Magazines.

Annabel saw itself as a ‘New young and lively monthly for women’ and was just in its seventh issue. The large page format – almost A3 – could show off the photography and illustration.

Harry Lindfield's Dr Who cover for Countdown comic

A Harry Lindfield Dr Who cover for Countdown comic. Click on the image to see a larger version on comic artist Lew Stringer’s website

Where was Black Bag when I needed saving from a Tesco bag?

April 14, 2015
The best of Viz - Black Bag

The best of Viz – Black Bag (from http://singletrackworld.com)

I was attacked by a Tesco bag last week. It was a blustery day and the wind picked up the plastic shopping bag, spun it round like a plate on a stick in a Greek restaurant and it shot towards me. I had to duck or, I tell you, it would have taken the top of my head off!

It must have beeen the evil cousin of Black Bag – the Faithful Border Bin Liner that was a staple of Viz and took its inspiration from the Dandy‘s Black Bob. Viz has produced many great strips –  Fat Slags, Sid the Sexist, Roger Mellie the foul-mouthed Man on the Telly – but Black Bag trumps Billy the Fish as the best character. It’s the sheer surreal nature of the idea that does it for me. No wonder James Brown credits it as an inspiration for Loaded – and he later bought it.

I can even forgive Black Bag for not trying to save me – no Faithful Border Bin Liner can be everywhere.

Life at Punch in 1962

March 25, 2015
Punch magazine cover from 1879 (November 22). This cover shows the Dickie Bird cover that was used into the 1950s

Punch magazine cover from 1879 (November 22). This shows the Dickie Bird cover that was used into the 1950s

The weekly humour magazine Punch is long dead – despite an attempt to revive it in the 1990s – and only a cartoon archive selling reproductions exists today. Yet, in its day, Punch one of the world’s most influential magazines, not only in encouraging the development of other magazines (Judy, Owl and Lika Joka among them) but also bringing new word usages into the English language – ‘cartoon’, the ‘curate’s egg’ – developing the cartoon itself, and politically – angering Churchill, for example, in the way it portrayed him as an old man in the 1950s (probably losing editor Malcom Muggeridge his job in the process).

By this time, Punch was in decline in the face of competition from television for readers and advertising, and about to face Private Eye at the harder end of topical satire in print. Private Eye even ran a special issue having a go at what it saw as a Punch that had lost its edge (though criticising Punch had been a topic since at least 1916).

But it’s rare to be able to put a face to a famous name in the magazine world, so this British Pathe film from 1962 was a bit of a find.

Punch table in 1962 from British Pathe film

Punch table in 1962 from British Pathe film

It starts with Bernard Hollowood, the editor, and cartoonists in debate around the Punch table and art editor Bill Hewison carves his initials on the table. His letters are shown as well as others by contributors James Thurber, William Makepeace Thackeray and John Leach and a rare guest, Prince Philip. There is a description of the table on the Punch website.

Two Victorian illustrations are shown, ’19th century forecast of television’ and ‘air-to-air refuelling, before the film moves on to summarise the editorial, production and publishing processes at Punch, with Russell Brockbank, contemporary illustrations, subscription orders and magazine binding.

Around the Punch table are: Peter Agnew, Kenneth Bird, J. B. Boothroyd, H. F. Ellis, W. Hewison, C. Hollis, B. Hollowood, D. Langdon, R. Mallett, Norman Mansbridge (who did Her, a brilliant spoof of 1950s women’s magazines), F. L. Marsh, R. G. G. Price, B. A. Young and P. Dickinson.

Leete, Kitchener and the pointing man

February 6, 2015

Alfred Leete’s Kitchener poster was the subject of great debate last year with James Taylor’s book suggesting it might never have existed, but The Amazing Story of the Kitchener Poster proved that thesis wrong by uncovering pictures of the poster on display during the Great War (a book I wrote with Martyn Thatcher).

We also discovered an image that Leete might have seen of a pointing man used in advertising. Now, I’ve unearthed two more pointing figures, one that Leete very possibly saw, and one that he undoubtedly did see.

The first is this one, a pointing man in an advert for The Power Within from Pearson’s magazine (June 1907). I don’t know if Leete was a contributor to Pearson’s at this time, but it was a big illustrated monthly and he would probably have had an eye on it – he certainly did covers for Herbert Jenkins’ Mrs Bindle series in the magazine in 1921. So this advert has to be considered a possible inspiration for Alfred Leete’s Kitchener image. Note the way the word ‘you’ is picked out just below the man’s hand.

A pointing man in an advert from Pearson's magazine (June 1907)

A pointing man in an advert from Pearson’s magazine (June 1907)

The second image that he probably did see is this one:

The pointing man from an advert in London Opinion magazine, 17 September  1910

The pointing man – from an advert in London Opinion magazine, 17 September 1910

Why am I so sure Leete will have seen these? Because Leete was an established illustrator on magazines by 1910, regularly doing covers as well as drawings inside for London Opinion. The latter advert is from London Opinion, of a veterinarian from Kalamazoo in the US, Derk P. Yonkerman, who sold a supposed cure for consumption. Also, there is the illustration below in that very same issue of London Opinion as Yonkerman’s advert – note Leete’s signature to the bottom right. When the war came along, he was in the right place to dash off the ‘Your Country Needs You’ image for the magazine cover.

Drawing by Alfred Leete in the same issue of London Opinion

Drawing by Alfred Leete in the same issue of London Opinion


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