Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

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

A Nation in thrall to the Daleks

June 13, 2015
The first Radio Times cover showing Dr Who in February 1964

The first Radio Times cover showing Dr Who – with Marco Polo and devious enemy Tegana – in February 1964

Doctor Who took to the nation’s TV screens in November 1963. The arrival was covered inside the Radio Times, but the first cover was not for another three months, in February.

The first Daleks cover for Radio Times in November 1964

The first Daleks cover for Radio Times in November 1964

In November that year, the Daleks got their first Radio Times cover treatment after the success of their first outing a year earlier. The article inside, below, noted that ‘Currently the robots are multiplying like rabbits for Christmas…’, a reference to the Dalek toys that were appearing the shops.

The Radio Times Dalek article showing the cyborgs on Westminster Bridge

The Radio Times Dalek article showing the cyborgs on Westminster Bridge

In 1965, the Daleks appeared in a comic strip in the comic TV Century 21 that was licensed by Dr Who writer Terry Nation. The story lines are totally different to the TV series because Nation owned the rights to the Daleks and some of the other early monsters, but not the Dr Who character. The two sides fell out in a big way and even 20 years later when the BBC launched its first Dr Who computer programs for the BBC Micro there was no mention of the Daleks.

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times, which recreated the 1964 scene of the Daleks on Westminster Bridge. It was voted the best magazine cover among 10 covers nominated by editors in a competition organised by the PPA, the magazine publishers’ trade association, for its 100th anniversary. Kate Moss, Darth Vader and Dennis the Menace were among the vanquished rivals.

Despite the appearance of Dalek as a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, US software packages and computers – Macs and iPads included – usually treat it as a spelling error and try to change it to ‘dales’ or something similar.  Strangely, though, trademarks such as Microsoft and iPad are accepted as valid words.

The OED entry is worth repeating here for its list of mentions of the word and statement of what inspired Nation to invent the name:

1963 Radio Times 26 Dec. 11/1 Dalek voices: Peter Hawkins, David Graham.
1966 BBC Handbk. 39 The main activity over the period in this ‘merchandising’ operation concerned the widely popular Daleks from the ‘Dr. Who’ series. Some sixty licences for the production of Dalek-inspired articles were issued.
1969 C. Hodder-Williams 98·4 iv. 49 Under what interesting new law do you propose to enforce this regime? Or have you hired the Daleks?
1971 Radio Times 30 Dec. 10/1 Who are the Daleks? Dr. Who’s most dangerous enemies, written into his second adventure in 1963 by Terry Nation, who named them after an encyclopaedia volume covering dal-lek.

The BBC designer Raymond Cusick has been quoted by Asa Briggs as saying that he got the idea for the look of the Daleks ‘while fiddling with a pepper pot’.

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 Viz as an inspiration for Loaded – so much so he later bought it.

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

The self-referential magazine cover

April 1, 2015
The Penny Magazine shows itself being sold from what looks like a railway station stall in 1904

The Penny Magazine shows itself being sold from what looks like a railway station stall in 1904

Self-referential magazine cover covers are a not-so-subtle form of marketing and are pretty rare, but they do crop up, seemingly more often on weekly magazines than monthlies. It’s a brand marketing strategy, though that is not likely to have been a term on anyone’s lips at the time the front cover above was published.

This is the earliest one I’ve noticed, from 1904. It plugs not only itself but its sister magazine from publishers Cassell, the monthly Cassell Magazine, which cost 6d. This strategy of having a cheap weekly and upmarket monthly was common for publishers in the Victorian and Edwardian era. The Penny Magazine had been founded in 1898 as the New Penny Magazine, shortening the name in 1903 and continuing until 1925. The story-based sister monthly was published under various titles from 1853 to 1932. Other magazines shown or partly visible are three titles for children,  Chums (1892-1934), Quiver (1861-1926) and Little Folks; and Cassell’s Saturday Journal (1883-1924) again all from Cassell.

The black-and-white cover illustration with its red spot colour is not a particularly well-crafted image, but then most of these penny weeklies were pretty cheap. It is signed  E Lander, probably Edgar Lander (1872–1958). The quality of some titles improved as sales grew for those titles from the likes of Newnes and Harmsworth that were able to achieve very high sales.

penny_magazine_1904sep17_edgar_lander.jpg

Illustrator Edgar Lander’s signature

Lander worked for several better-produced magazines, including  Harmsworth’s Boys’ Friend comic and  Royal magazine. He was married to another artist, Hilda Cowham (1873-1964), whose signature character was a flighty young girl in a black pinny and white bow with a black cat who appeared in magazines such as Home Chat, Home Notes and Pick Me Up. She did cuter, more homely girls who were used on pottery and for London Underground posters. In The Strand of August 1913 (US edition) Cowham wrote and illustrated an article ‘Amusing Children I Have Met’ in which she talked about receiving letters from ‘mothers saying that they have dressed their little ones like a Hilda Cowham girl’.

Lander’s drawing portrays a railway bookstall of the kind run by WH Smith and Wyman & Sons. No actual cover is shown on the stall, just the magazines’ titles. The uniformed lad with his sales tray looks like he may be selling maps and guides. Note that the Penny Magazine describes itself as being for travellers and commuters – ‘for rail, road, river or sea’.

Cassell is a name that dates back to 1848, when the company was founded by John Cassell. The magazines were an offshoot of his book publishing and were probably regarded as a way of developing writers and promoting established names. Cassell ceased being an independent publisher in 1999 – a decade of concentration in book publishing – when it was bought up by Orion Publishing Group, itself owned by the French group Lagardère. Today, Cassell is an illustrated imprint of Octopus Publishing.

Eagles, comics and magazines at the V&A’s NAL

May 21, 2012

Comics blog Cor Blimey! has visited the Eagle-era comics exhibition at the V&A and his review starts off cool but warms up.

The Eagle exhibition was mounted by Marc Ward of the National Art Library, which is housed at the V&A – but, despite its size, is easy to miss! The NAL has a very easy to search catalogue – you can just search on periodical names for example – which is useful not only for planning what to see but also for checking dates, publisher (even if they do not have a particular item).

They have complete runs of magazine such as Vogue and while it’s biased towards fashion and design titles, has issues across a range of areas, including international titles It’s a reference only collection but worth becoming a reader if they’ve got what you want.

As an example, I was in there a few weeks ago to look at Dazed & Confused. I could check what the NAL holds and a search on the main V&A website showed that Nick Knight had donated a selection of his photographs and I could look at them too – including prints of Aimee Mullins from the Fashion-Able issue. Tip: search on the surname. And, of course, the NAL holds a copy of last year’s Dazed history published by Rizzoli by Jefferson Hack with Kate Moss on the cover.

Spot the difference – FT and Punch

September 5, 2011

Catching up on reading at the weekend and this FT Magazine looked so familiar:

FT Weekend Magazine with tennis champion Kim Clijsters on the cover

FT Weekend Magazine with tennis champion Kim Clijsters on the cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I remembered  this one:

From Punch 155 Dec 1954: 'Her' a magazine spoof with spot colour by Norman Mansbridge

From Punch 15 Dec 1954: ‘Her’ a magazine spoof with spot colour by Norman Mansbridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Must be something about the eyes, the position on the page and that shade of red!

It was part of a 5-page skit on women’s magazines by Norman Mansbridge in Punch. Perhaps not an everyday name now, but he was a Punch cartoonist before and after the war, a navy war artist, and later cartoonist for the Daily Sketch. He retired from there to add another string to his bow – cartoon trips for Fleetway and IPC comics, some of which ran for 20 years – among them ‘Fuss Pot’, ‘Tough Nutt and Softly Centre’ and ‘Mummy’s Boy’.

The Dark Knight rises in a London library

July 7, 2011

On Tuesday, I was in the Gotham City Library, today I’m sitting in a vaulted Tudor room in Hadleigh trying to write a book about British Magazine Design. But it’s so distracting … there’s a cupboard door in the wall that I can open and admire the wattle & daub (one of those great terms that sticks to you like glue from history lessons). Hadleigh is where 5 of the men who translated the King James Bible came from, so an exhibition in the church of St Mary tells me, and I’m hoping for inspiration. Yesterday, the town beat off an attempted invasion by Tesco (been trying to destroy this ancient Suffolk wool town for 16 years apparently). In terms of seeing people off, the town has form – Guthrum, King of the Danes, is said to be buried in the grounds of St Mary’s, since being defeated  by King Alfred in the C9th.

And if Gotham City sounds far fetched, just look at these covers from 1904 and 1927 – don’t they put the much later Bat-man artwork  to shame:

spring_heeled_jack_1904

Penny dreadful – Spring-Heeled Jack

Tatler cover from summer 1927

The reason I was in Gotham City was for a meeting of contributors to the Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (vol 7) at the University of London. It turned out the place was being used as a location for the next Batman film – The Dark Knight Rises – due out in 2012. Take a look the libraries page and you’ll see why. Apparently, an ‘evil ball’ had been seen in the building, some very strange plants, as well as Christian Bale.

Pink Floyd cartoon: what’s it all about?

December 13, 2010
Pink Floyd Richard Right cartoon in the style of Playboy

Pink Floyd Richard Right cartoon in the style of Playboy

The more you look at this the more you see: Hugh Hefner, Charlton Heston, Rupert the Bear, they’re all obvious. But why is Charlton shouting ‘Annie Goni!’; who are the ‘wild bunch’ ‘packed lunch’ pair; and what about ‘The puppy ate the guppy’?

If anyone can translate Richard Wright’s ‘Rich right’ cartoon from ‘The Pink Floyd Super All-Action Official Music Programme for Boys and Girls‘, I’d be grateful.

Fab Lady Penelope wows eBay buyers

March 11, 2010

Lady Penelope comic - first issue

I once had a conversation in a pub during which all but one of the women present (5 or 6 of them) admitted to having had a crush on a Thunderbirds puppet (Virgil or Scott).

It seems Lady Penelope may have the same effect on eBayers – 11 offers have been made for the first issue of her 1966 comic taking the bidding to £63.51 with 3 days to go. As well as featuring Lady P’s exciting adventures, the comic offers The Man from UNCLE and Bewitched strips – but no free gift.

FAB! Incredibly, 16 bidders took the final selling price to £155! The seller has another copy up of the same Lady Penelope issue, but not in such good condition, as well as the next 4 issues.

TV and film magazines at Magforum.com

Pink Floyd’s brilliant comic

January 10, 2010

Pink Floyd played the Liverpool Empire in November 1974 on their Wish You Were Here tour with a brilliant programme. ‘The Pink Floyd Super All-Action Official Music Programme for Boys and Girls‘ was a comic with a two-page cartoon strip for each of the band. Nick Mason and album art specialists Hipgnosis were the brains behind a great concept with art from Gerald Scarfe, Paul Stubbs, Joe Petagno, Colin Elgie and Richad Evans. I remember thinking when I saw the centre-spread cartoon by Scarfe -Why would anyone pay to make themselves look as ugly as that?!

Pink Floyd 1974 tour programme