Posts Tagged ‘Bystander’

Christmas in magazines: 1904-1980

December 24, 2019
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A portly Christmas pudding for the Penny Magazine by Lawson Wood

Lawson Wood would have been 26 when he was commissioned to draw this Christmas number cover of the Penny Magazine in 1904. He would later become famous the world over for his drawings of dinosaurs, animals and, most famous of all, Gran’pop, which appeared in the Sketch. There’s always humour in his work, as demonstrated by the smiling face of the rotund man with his even more rotund pudding (in contrast to Wood’s unusually skinny monogram!).

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New Illustrated shows a girl in snow fox fur

It wasn’t until the 1990s that fur became a dirty word and this New Illustrated cover from December 6, 1919 shows a girl in snow fox fur. New Illustrated had adopted the photogravure printing process in April that year and, at the end of the war, had changed its name from War Illustrated. It was less successful with another change of name, to Record Weekly, and closed in 1920. The cover was by Harry Woolley.

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Fry’s Magazine of Sport portrays a traditional coach in 1913

Lawson Wood also drew for Fry’s Magazine, though this unsigned traditional coaching image doesn’t look like one of his.  

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John Bull portrays British and French generals toasting entente in 1914

Christmas 1914 would not have been much fun on the Western Front, even if peace did break out for a legendary day of football on parts of the line. But John Bull editor Horatio Bottomley – who would be shamed a decade later as a champagne-swigging con artist – chose to celebrate the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France with Kitchener among the generals of the two nations.  Notice how delicately they all hold their flutes.

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Christmas cheer at the front in 1918, according to the Christmas Pearson’s

An optimistic Pearson’s Christmas at the front in 1918, just weeks after the Armistice was signed. Again the cover was not signed, but the artist has made very good use of the limited range of colours. Note the free distribution for magazines sent to the troops and navy.

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Christmas is a merry time for the gent and his parcel-carrying lad on the right of this Howard Elcock masthead for Bystander in 1925, but the woman who is the focus of the image is still looking for something. The main feature promoted above the titlepiece is by Basil MacDonald Hastings, who would die three years later, aged just 46. His son ‘Mac’ would make his name as a war correspondent on Picture Post, before editing the Strand from 1945 until it closed in 1950, and then going on to be a roving reporter for the Eagle comic. He married Anne Scott-James, the Harper’s Bazaar editor and newspaper columnist. One of their children, Max, followed in the family footsteps to become editor of the Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard.

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The Observer’s colour supplement celebrates a century of comics in 1974 (December 22)

This 1974 Observer Sunday newspaper supplement cover celebrates a century of comics, though it is dominated by two relatively new characters in the comics pantheon, Corky the Cat and Desperate Dan, who both appeared in the Dandy from its launch in 1937. In fact, they all look like Dandy characters. Also, I’m not sure why 1874 is the starting date, with Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday of 1884 often being regarded as the first comic, with Ally Sloper first appearing as a strip in 1867.

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The BBC’s Listener has a Bruegel parody by Peter Brookes (1980, December 18)

Peter Brookes has a long, clever history of reinterpreting magazine covers and paintings in his cartoons and illustrations. This 1980 Listener cover takes Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow and replaces the hunters with a BBC detector van and a team of men setting out to identify houses where the TV watchers had not paid their BBC licences. The Listener was published by the BBC and the cover can been seen as taking a dig at the corporation because the detector vans were disliked (and possibly ineffective). In 2016, the Guardian said on its Facebook page:

For years, enforcement has relied on the scary idea of ‘detector vans’ in our streets, but we still don’t know for sure if they actually exist.

Detector vans or not, the BBC gets my cash every year (unlike the Guardian, which I’ve given up on since it gave up covering a broad range of news – though the BBC shows every sign of following the Guardian‘s news-light, celebrity-heavy strategy to attract US readers).

This is one of several Christmas cover posts I’m putting up.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine covers.

 


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


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.