Tuesday, 16 November 2010


THOR The Mighty - from the cover of FANTASTIC
Annual 1968.  Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

I'll probably get some stick for this boastful reminiscence, but believe it or not, when I was a young lad at primary school, I was regarded as the best artist in my class, if not the entire school.  Now before you fall about laughing, that wasn't (and isn't) a figment of my imagination - it just happened to be the consensus of opinion amongst teachers and pupils alike.  Naturally, there must've been a few artistically inclined individuals who resented and disagreed with this generous assessment of my abilities, but -  if so - they remained the (silent) minority.

However, I couldn't really take credit for my place atop the heap.  After all, I was merely regurgitating the styles of artists of the calibre of KIRBYBUSCEMA, DITKO, COLAN, SWAN, ANDERSON - and a whole host of others.  Because of that, my drawings tended to have more impact and therefore made a lasting impression.  What follows is an example of what I'm talking about.

One day I and two of my fellow pupils (JULIE CUNNINGHAM and BILLY McCLUSKEY) each produced a drawing or painting that was regarded as so good that we were taken around the school to show them to the other classes.  Billy had drawn (in pencil) a scene of two boxers pounding it out in the ring (he was a big fan of, and maybe even related, I think, to a famous boxer of the same surname), and Julie had  drawn (also in pencil) a lake scene with swans gliding serenely over the surface.  Both were very nicely done, if I remember correctly after 40-odd years.  As for myself, I had painted a picture of THOR, standing on a mountain top and holding aloft his hammer to the heavens. 

Every class we visited, the result was the same.  We'd stand in a row whilst the teacher indulged in a bit of preamble, and then raise our pictures for the class to see - only to be met with cries of "Look - it's ThorWow!" and similar exclamations of awe and wonder.  Now, truth to tell, my picture was probably not much better-rendered than Julie's or Billy's - but the subject was more dynamic (and in colour) and, consequently, almost guaranteed to draw the attention of just about everyone in the room.  Hardly anybody took a second look at the the pictures of my two despondent classmates - some never even took a first.

Poor Julie and Billy - they must have hated me.

Anyway, what's the point of the story?  Merely that I often look back on those days and wish that I was as good an artist now for my age as I was then.  For a 9 or 10 year old I was "hot" - as an adult I barely qualify as lukewarm.  What's the old saying?  Ah, yes, I remember.


'Nuff said.


(Update:  That's Billy below, in a photo taken at secondary school around 3 years later.)


Anonymous said...

Kid, had the same annual myself. Did you ever keep any of your early school art? My mother kept a few of my efforts which even at such a young age were a clear indication that I would never be exhibited one day!


Kid said...

I've got nothing from my primary school years, but have one drawing of Superman that I drew (very quickly) in English class when I was 13. Truth to tell, it really isn't all that good, and I don't think it represents the potential I displayed at the time. I can only speculate that keeping an eye out for the teacher (so that she didn't see me doodling when I should have been doing something else) inhibited me somewhat. Excuses, excuses.

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