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 shop bags and leaflets for years;  below is the "rough" of the initial idea.

Initial pencil rough


Characters copyright MARVEL COMICS

Here's one of the art samples I showed 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 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 pic 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 'til 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 'cos I knew him.  You know the old saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch" ?  Well, this is the proof of that saying.  I was going to get paid paid for it, but it's something I was only doing to accommodate a request.)

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 pic 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, I decided to abandon the project when my fee was questioned, so it never saw print.  Just another day in the life of a cartoonist, eh?


A while back, I posted an unused cover for HUGH CAMPBELL's '80s fanzine, FUSION.  The illustration was one I'd drawn back around 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, even 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 put them out of business in 1977.  (Oil being one of the ingredients in the manufacture of plastic.)

Hopefully, MOEBIUS MODELS will get around to reissuing 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 flabbergasted) 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 undiscovered 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 disappearing little yellow ball.

Pic 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


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

I'm glad to be able to say that MARVEL have done themselves proud with the release of the softcover THOR MASTERWORKS volume.  Quite simply, these tales, from JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83-100, have never been presented better - anywhere.  For the first time since its initial 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 a whole load of  earlier reprintings in recent years.

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 permit 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 pictures 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 Masterworks hardback (and subsequent editions up to now), the splash page was reconstructed from the reprint in Thor #158, and the final panel's changes were badly re-lettered back to the original wording.  (Though the misspelling of "THORR" was corrected.)

Rather than bore you with the details of every single presentation of this ace tale, see my previous post on the subject.  How- ever, before you do, rush out and purchase this super 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 first printing .)

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

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Following my post on FANTASTIC FOUR: The LOST ADVENTUREI'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 delayed 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 Publica-tions, 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 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.  (Though, 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 EMBLETONFRANK HAMPSON, DON LAWRENCE, and FRANK BELLAMY were very much the ALEX ROSSes of their day.  Don'tcha think?

To see the 1967 Annual, click here.
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