I am not a connoisseur of 1920s comics. The ones I know about are the big American strips, such as Herriman’s Krazy Kat and McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland. When I read in comics histories about the great exponents of the adventure strip – cartoonists like Hal Foster and Milton Caniff – those histories invariably point to Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs as the first adventure comic strip. Begun in the USA in 1924 as a daily gag strip about a shop assistant, Wash Tubbs soon broke its boundaries when Tubbs ran off to join the circus, and went on to have adventures in exotic locations. However, a visitor to the Cartoon Museum brought to our attention a different contender for the title of first adventure comic strip – and it’s British. Asger Pedersen is from Denmark, and he dropped into the Museum one recent Saturday with a tale to tell about Britain’s first adventure serial comic strip, Rob the Rover, which predated Wash Tubbs by some four years.
Comics Creators Project Volunteer
Employment status: Volunteer , 2 days per week, 10.00am – 5.30pm
for 6 months
Salary: Unpaid [travel expenses up to £8 per day reimbursed]
Purpose of Job: To assist with the delivery of the Comics Creators Project, an HLF funded project for its Collecting Cultures programme.
As Project Volunteer you will be required to provide support to the Project Curator in the delivery and management of the Comics Creators project, by researching potential acquisitions to the Comics and Sequential Art Collection and assisting with the development and coordination of the activities which include events with project partners.
Main Duties and Responsibilities
• Assist with the research into possible acquisitions to the Comics and Sequential Art collection
• Assist with exhibition/display research
• Assist with developing online resources to encourage the sharing of knowledge between partners and to widen our audience
• Assist with the development and coordination of activities at the museum
• An interest in comics and sequential art
• An interest in gaining curatorial experience
• Good attention to detail
• Confident verbal and written communicator
• Excellent organizational skills
• Proficiency in the use of Windows based packages, particularly Word, Outlook and Excel
• Good level of numeracy
• Ability to work successfully as part of a team and on own initiative
We are particularly looking for someone with experience of web content management, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc
To apply, please send a CV and covering letter to the Project Curator: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for the applications is: Sunday 14 May 2017
As a cartoonist myself, I have to say that Leo was an impossible act to follow. His drawings were always both very, very funny and sublimely well drawn – Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling to my greetings card and gift book scribbles. He cast a long shadow which will be greatly missed now it’s gone.
The humour in Leo’s work for children’s comics and his later newspaper cartoons and books was always anarchic, anti the established order and pro fairness and justice in a generally unfair and unjust world, championing the underdog against the forces of oppression; a reflection of his strongly held left-wing, progressive political views.
In his comics pages he saw the child characters he created (most famously The Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, Little Plum) as the underdogs long controlled and oppressed by the adult world around them and he gave them a voice and actions with which to fight back in hilariously anarchic fashion, allowed them to step into the limelight and control their own destinies. Children of the time responded to that, writing fan letters of glee and appreciation that truly delighted him. The fan letters also came from grown up children, reading his pages with as much enjoyment as their offspring.
He crammed his drawings with masses of tiny comic details that the readers could pour over and come back to time and time again. He believed that children had “super-powerful eyeballs” with which they looked for that kind of tiny comic detail to become absorbed in, and he always wanted to give them more and more, pages that they could become lost in as they studied the detail. He never wanted to disappoint his fans.
In recent years it wasn’t the cancer that he fought for so long that really got him down, so much as the constant march ever more to the right in British politics – a depressing political march away from the principles of fairness, justice and standing up for the underdog that underpinned his life and his cartoons, towards a world built around fear, hatred and division. To the end he believed, despite all the evidence, that he could beat his illness and I’m sure he also believed that the forces of progressive politics could also still win, no matter how long a shadow their opponents might cast.
I will always be grateful that Leo taught me how to draw well enough to make a living from it. I’m equally grateful that his strongly progressive political views and activism rubbed off on me and my brothers and sisters (I vividly remember as a small child being taken on wet and cold CND marches as well as on exciting visits to the Beano offices in Dundee) and so helped to shape the adults we became, and it’s good to know that he also touched and in some small way perhaps influenced the lives of so many others of our generation brought up on his comic pages.
John Constantine has fought world-shattering demonic entities on alternate planes of reality, stared down abyssal horrors that would strike the sanity from ordinary men, and saved the lives of countless innocents during his decades-long career. Yet you’d be far more likely to find the eponymous anti-hero of Hellblazer getting stone drunk at the local boozer than performing feats of derring-do.
If you’re lucky, he might sketch out a few arcane symbols in the beer of a spilled pint before disappearing into the shadows.
Continue reading “Comic Highlights: Hellblazer”
The Comic Creators Project has recently acquired a page of original art of The Big Yin! Started in 1975 by artist Malcolm “Malky” McCormick and featured in the Sunday Times, The Big Yin follows the adventures of well known Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly. It will be displayed later this year.
The Comic Creators Project at the Cartoon Museum in London has original artwork from I Spy, a novelty strip where the hero was a secret agent who wore a long trench coat which concealed hundreds of weapons and gadgets (similar to a character from Smash! called The Cloak and a definite forerunner of Inspector Gadget).
Ronald Sydney Embleton was born in London on the 6th of October of 1930. At the tender age of nine, Ron submitted a political cartoon to the News of the World. Shortly after his parents received a letter that said “you should have him trained” (Clark 1998, 54). Following this sound advice, Ron attended the south East Essex Technical College and School of Art and trained with the painter David Bromberg. At age twelve he won a national poster competition (Wikipedia) and at the age of seventeen he proceeded to sell his first cartoon strip, in 1947, to Scion, a small London publisher at the same time that he contributed to several titles published by Gerald G. Swan.
Nothing is more boring than going to a gallery and seeing the same pieces over and over again. After a while it’s time to shake it up, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here at the Cartoon Museum.