Sunday, 29 August 2010


Printed result

Here's one that didn't get away. I was in my local chip shop one night
and the owner asked me if I'd do a cartoon to advertise his delivery service.
Rather than take the man's money, I asked for a fish supper every week -
for a year. (With an onion and a beetroot for good measure.) Not too bad
for half an hour's work, eh?

Above is the finished article which appeared on his chip shop bags
and leaflets for years; below is the "rough" of the initial idea.

Initial pencil rough


Here's one of the art samples I presented to 2000 A.D. editor
STEVE MacMANUS at a Glasgow comic mart back in October of
1984. The lettering was done with a fountain pen and was a far cry from
being truly professional, but it was enough to give Steve an idea of my
potential and eventually resulted in me freelancing for IPC about
three months later.

The lettering may be far from perfect, but I was always quite
proud of the rather clean pencilling which it adorned, so I thought
I'd share it with you here.

Saturday, 28 August 2010


The above picture is a B&W copy of a colour cartoon for a proposed
ad for a local restaurant, which I did some years ago. (It's a shame I no
longer have a colour copy 'cos it was quite nice.) However, rarely does
a cartoon (or any illustration for that matter) spring full-blown from the
hand of its creator; it usually undergoes a process of development until
the finished result is reached. Let me show you what I mean.

The following picture is the original 'rough' suggesting the idea.
This is to show the prospective client what one has in mind. (I say
'prospective client', but in actual fact I was doing a 'favour' for the
owner. You know the old saying "There's no such thing as a free
lunch" ? Well, this is the proof of that saying.)

Below is another rough of the proposed final drawing -
this is essentially what I'm aiming for.

And now the finished line artwork. I added the restaurant's logo to the
tablecloth and then coloured it with acrylic inks. The finished result was
very effective, but unfortunately I gave it to someone, so only the B&W
and grey copy at the top of the page remains in my possession. You'll just
have to imagine it in colour - the guy has a blue suit and the girl has a
red dress, if that's any help. Trust me - it was nice.

And guess what? After all that work, the idea for the ad was abandoned.
Just another day in the life of a working cartoonist, eh?


A while back, I posted an unused cover for HUGH CAMPBELL's
'80s fanzine, FUSION. The illustration was one I'd first drawn back in
about 1981 or '82, and as I previously mentioned, I'd first used it for a
suggested cover for RON BENNETT's fanzine/catalogue, SKYRACK'S
FANTASY TRADER, 'though I never got around to sending it. So, 27
years later, here it finally is...quite effective, if I say so myself.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


"I've lost my front door key!"

Here's a real collector's item for you to feast your eyes on - the
1964 AURORA model kit of SUPERMAN, as built and painted by
myself.  Aurora was once the world's biggest plastic model kit company,
before the high price of oil made life difficult for them and forced them
out of business in 1977.  (Oil being one of the ingredients in the
manufacture of plastic.)

Hopefully, MOEBIUS MODELS will get around to rereleasing
this kit in its original form (with original box art) in the near future.
Why not contact them at
and  suggest it?  Go on, you know it makes sense.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Here's a strange little story for you concerning the item in
the above ad.  I bought my one and only TONIBELL MINIBALL
back around 1967 or '68.  (Hard to believe it was over 40 years ago.)
When I moved house in 1972, I was sure I'd brought it with me to my
new home, but, mysteriously, I couldn't find it.  I'd kept it behind the
water tank up in the attic, and I was sure I'd retrieved it the night
before moving, but - search as I might in our new abode - it
was nowhere to be found.

Over the years, I'd regularly have dreams in which I'd
find myself back in my old house, searching for my trusty pal
from childhood.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, 19 years later
I decided to determine its fate once and for all, and managed to gain
access to my old house and attic - and was overjoyed (if flabbergast-
ed) to discover my little yellow Miniball exactly where I'd left it so
many years before - completely untouched.  So, not only was I the
last person to see it back in 1972, but also the first to clap eyes on
it again in 1991.  Strangely, the 19 years that have elapsed since
I retrieved it don't seem a fraction of the time it lay undis-
covered and neglected for the same period.

And guess what?  I've never had those dreams again
since that day  I finally solved the mystery of the dis-
appearing little yellow ball.

Photo taken on June 9th 1991, before I removed the ball from where
it had lain ever since I'd flitted from the house on June 14th 1972

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


I'm glad to report that
MARVEL have done them-
selves proud with the release
of the softcover THOR
Quite simply, these tales,
MYSTERY #83-100, have
never been presented better
anywhere. For the first time
since its original printing
back in 1962, Thor's origin
is reproduced - in colour -
from pristine proofs, with
no evidence of clumsy,
so-called "restoration" or
"reconstruction" as was the
case in most earlier reprints.

For example, when the
story was reprinted in MARVEL TALES #1, a badly lettered blurb on the
splash page declared it was originally printed in JIM #38 (instead of 83) -
and the final page was cropped to allow a wrap-up panel to the issue. When the
tale was reprinted in the GOLDEN BOOK & RECORD SET, the splash page
was printed in black and white, and the "Editor's Note" panel on the last page was
eliminated, with the last two pics being resized to fill the space. In ORIGINS OF
MARVEL COMICS, the corner page numbers were removed and some clumsy
touch-up work was noticable in places. For the first printing of the hardback
edition of Masterworks (and subsequent editions up until now), the splash page
was reconstructed from the reprint in Thor #158, and the final panel was badly
re-lettered from the changes made in the aforementioned issue to its original
wording. (Although the misspelling of "THORR" was corrected.)

Rather than bore you
here with the details of
every single printing of this
classic tale, see my previous
post on the subject. However,
before you do that, run out
and buy this beautiful edition
before it's sold out. (It's just a
shame that they inadvertently
missed out a paragraph in
STAN LEE's introduction,
originally written for the
1991 printing.)

ISBN# 978-0-7851-4568-4.

Start saving now for
the giant-sized OMNIBUS volume coming out at the end of the year.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Following on from my post
I'd like to look at another of
the fantasies surrounding the
original printing of this story
in FF #108.  I've previously
addressed JON B. COOKE's
idle speculation that STAN
LEE may possibly have de-
layed printing JACK KIRBY's
version out of spite, so I'd now
like to examine the suggestion
that it was released the same
month as the first issue of DC
COMICS' (then National
Periodical Publications,
Inc.) NEW GODS title in a
malicious attempt to sabotage
its launch.

Sound plausible?  Let's examine the facts.  Kirby's first comic to be
released by DC was SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN.  When New
Gods hit the stands (six months after Kirby had left MARVEL) no special
attention or promotion was given to FF #108;  Kirby wasn't mentioned on
the JOHN BUSCEMA cover and the Kirby content was bookended by a
Buscema splash and end page, with quite a few redrawn panels inside the
book - rendering Kirby's involvement practically invisible 'til the reader
got the mag home and sat down to read it.  Hardly the way to create
an impact and steal New Gods' thunder, I'd suggest.

Marvel were trying to establish Big John Buscema as the FF's new
regular, superstar artist (after four issues by JOHN ROMITA), so that
would surely count against them harping on about the past glory that was
Jack.  And sales on 'The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!' actually
increased after Kirby left the book (as they did with SPIDER-MAN after
STEVE DITKO departed) so, Stan Lee's personal sadness aside, Marvel
wouldn't have been overly concerned over the King's departure.  The most
likely explanation seems to be that the story was printed simply because
it had been paid for - and once Stan had worked out the problems with
it and incorporated it into a longer, more cosmic story arc, there
was no good reason not to print it.

When one examines the evidence, the fact that FF #108 featured
Kirby material and came out the same month as New Gods #1 seems to
be nothing more than coincidence, otherwise Marvel surely would have
hyped it to the rafters.  They didn't - which puts paid to that little notion as
far as I'm concerned.  That's the trouble with most "conspiracy theories" -
they seldom withstand scrutiny when measured against the plain and
simple facts of the matter.


For previous post on this topic, click here.

Monday, 2 August 2010


Here's another fine example of RON EMBLETON artwork -
the cover to the very first TV CENTURY 21 ANNUAL from 1965
(for 1966).  When the weekly comic first debuted, STINGRAY was
the current GERRY ANDERSON show on TV, essentially making it
the 'starring' strip of the publication.  (Although, with the LADY
PENELOPE strip, the comic was already preparing the ground
 for THUNDERBIRDS as the upcoming main feature.)

Thinking about it, artists like RON EMBLETON,
BELLAMY were very much the ALEX ROSSes of their
day.  Don'tcha think?

To see the 1967 Annual, click here.