Friday, August 3, 2012

British Cartoonists Album: Part 2

A Glance at English Strippers
Today we continue yesterday's stroll through the 1962 British Cartoonists Album. This will be the first of two posts focusing on the collection's sampling of newspaper strips. Strips in the Album come in two flavors: individual dailies placed among the cartoons, and proof sheets filling an entire page. We'll start with the former category and tackle the latter next time.

An inauspicious start: beneath a Clive Hudson he-she cartoon  are two unnamed strips by a cartoonist named Ghilchik. The lightweight jokes seem to depict the escapades of Boy Scouts. I found many online references to a cartoonist named David Louis Ghilchik, who was active at Punch during the 1930s. Could this possibly be the same guy? The style in his Punch work looks nothing like these strips.

Next comes a caricature of someone I don't recognize and an amusing gag by a Daily Sketch cartoonist named Rains. Below that is an interesting sample from a pin-up strip called Lindy, drawn by Ernest Ratcliff. I don't know how long this strip ran; Ratcliff apparently drew several British girl strips. He was also a magazine illustrator during the 1950s. This sample only hints at Ratcliff's abilities. Take a look at these two originals on comicartfans. Nice!


 I'm puzzled that while Lindy has a nice pin-up figure, her face isn't particularly pretty. I gather from this sample she's supposed to be a "tough broad" type; maybe this was extended to her character design.

An entire page is given to Trog's Flook. I can add nothing to the reams of material written about this British icon, except to wonder that anyone could have thought of syndicating this ultra-English strip in the USA (It happened!).

Beneath a funny gag by Spencer is a superb Carol Day daily by David Wright. I've never seen enough strips from any Carol Day continuity to get a sense of the stories. Various commentators have called them "brooding" and even "death-obsessed." However there's no question about the quality of Wright's art. For years he used the elaborate cross-hatched style shown here. Later he switched to rendering with overlaid Ben Day films. The art still looked great, but I prefer the earlier pen style, which ranked right up there with the great Gilded Age penmen. Carol has her own website,, with biographical info and tons of beautiful art supplied by Wright's son Patrick.

After Carol comes a typical episode of the seafaring adventure strip Tug Transom, which the Album misspells "Transon." Alfred Sindall's rough-edged, brush-based artwork was just right for the subject. Scripts were supplied by Peter O'Donnell. I was interested to learn that Sindall was the original artist on Paul Temple, though I haven't turned up any examples.

 Next are two gags by Burgin. Wrapping up the page is For Better or for Worse, a gag-a-day strip about a young married couple. Leslie Caswell's art seems a touch over-realistic for such a strip, but the closer you look the more there is to like. The chattering biddies in the last panel are wonderfully characterized. It turns out Caswell was more of an illustrator than a comics artist. He did many monochrome illos for various British magazines. Here's a nice overview of his work. For Better or for Worse seems to have run quite a while. It was later taken over by Frank Langford, another talented illustrator, who brought a more decorative style to the project. One web reference from 2008 said a "modernized" version of the strip was still running.

The frustrations of search engines hover over Twick by Digby Adams for the Thomson Newspapers. Overwhelmed by Twickenham, Digby the World's Biggest Dog, Douglas Adams, and companies named Thompson, I found nary a mention of this so-so married-couple strip.

Speakiing of married-couple strips, I get a distinct Dagwood vibe from The Daily Dees by Butterworth, though the art isn't that similar. Perhaps it's the Chic Young-style balloons, which are rare in British strips. I don't know anything about the artist. It surely couldn't be Jenny Butterworth, the Tiffany Jones artist. But it's she and Rick Dees who dominate the Google results.

The strip below the Dees is my nominee for the hidden jewel of the collection. I'd never heard of Colonel Pewter, but I was impressed by Arthur Horner's whimsical artwork. Thanks to the Web, I've learned that Horner was an Australian cartoonist who lived for many years in England. He wrote and drew the Colonel's adventures between 1952 and 1970. The more I read about this strip, which combined social commentary with fanciful adventures and odd characters, the more I want to read a long run. Here's an introduction on the "Ian T. Graphics" blog. Maybe I'll be able to scour up a (affordable) copy of one of the reprints.

Next post we'll scan a few proof sheets from noted English continuity strips.


Paul said...

I am searching for the date of death of a cartoonist called Alfred Sindall. Do you have any resources that would mention him? Google is of no help.
Paul Hannah

Smurfswacker said...

Paul, I'm sorry but I haven't had any luck finding info on Sindall. Given the length of his career you'd think he'd be better-documented. If he is, I haven't found the right places to look!

Paddy Brown said...

Interesting post. Couple of comments.

Jenny Butterworth was the writer of Tiffany Jones (Pat Tourret was the artist). I haven't found any reference to her being an artist. However, her husband Mike Butterworth, who was also a prolific writer of comics among other things, did start out as an artist. Could possibly be him?

Paul's question about Alfred Sindall's death. His death is registered in Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey, in the first quarter of 1973.