This the remainder of the correspondence between me and an earnest inquiirer about Look-in and a little more.
Thanks for all the pictures. Much of this stuff I don’t have copies of. It’s a bit spooky seeing it all.
It is obvious I was still struggling to find my own style. Apart from drawing every strip in a somewhat different way there are influences from different sources.
Any way, your queries.
Had I been asked “Did you ever draw Benny Hill?” I would have said no. Even looking at the drawings, which do have a certain familiarity. I can’t recall doing it. I have been shown early work of mine that I didn’t recognise but this looks like me. It would appear I was feeling some confidence at the time however misplaced. It is from a Look-in Television Annual 1979 so it’s possible done for that and the only one I did.
Doctor On the Go
I must have been a very self occupied little s*** because I had no idea that Tom Kerr or John Cooper had done it. The freehand panel borders indicate the Harry North influence. I don’t know where all the cross-hatching came from. I seem to remember quite enjoying it and I think there was some gratification from being considered worthy to follow on from Harry.
Format fatigue was never something I suffered from even when doing strips that ran much longer than anything I ever did for Look-in. It would be a guess on my part as to what was the longest running series I did for Look-in. Danger mouse?
Using Thomas Henry (original illustrator of Just William books) as a model was my idea. I seem to remember Colin Shelbourn’s eyebrows going up when I suggested it. I don’t know who I thought would notice. There was quite a lot to be learned from following Henry’s pen-work and I found it more interesting than difficult. The reason so many panels are free floating is that that is how Henry’s illustrations appeared in the books. The need to extend a drawing to the inner edge of a frame rather spoils the originals aesthetic.
Again my memory is not something I would rely on in court but I would say that I was surprised to be asked take on the Abba strip. There was an expectation there that I was unprepared for. It looks the way it does because Colin asked me to include tone in the drawing so photographs could be dropped in without creating too great a disjunction with the drawing. It looks as though I was still carrying some Henry influence judging from the weight of the line and the vertical lines as background in a lot of it.
The Bionic Woman
There was no feeling of being a “fill-in artist “ in a derogatory sense but rather that being able to work in different ways made me useful. And I was always very good with deadlines which carries weight with editors. I was happy to be working at all, on anything. Looking a it now I am wondering where all the odd shaped panels idea came from. Frank Bellamy? It was probable more a question of finding a style than changing one. And this was in colour which was good for me.
Yes looks like I was reading Frank Bellamy. Funny panel shapes and solid blacks. I had been keen to do Sci-Fi stuff but wasn’t sorry when this series came to an end. I don’t think I quite got it.
`Lead times’ for scripts didn’t effect me. I got a script, weekly, one episode at a time, with a dead line of a week I think before the editorial team really needed the finished artwork and that was it.
Robin Tucek had left Look-in and gone to Polystyle. He asked me to do Target. It was one of the few jobs I have undertaken that felt like a chore. I had no feeling for the TV series and Robin asked me to use a thick line because it was to be cheaply printed. I wasn’t surprised by the publications short life. It hadn’t felt to me like a good or well thought out idea for a comic.
Believe I took this over from Mike Noble. Still the Thomas Henry influence in the vertical lines I see but some finer line work in the portraits particularly. I think this guy is getting better. Why it was a short run thing I don’t know. Wouldn’t a strip be dropped if it was no longer on TV?. I believe Danger Mouse was later an exception to that rule.
Not lettered by me. (The Doctor thing was )
I would have to know what I was offered in its place to know how I felt about it being dropped. Possibly disappointed to lose it because I thought it was my chance to do a coloured adventure strip and make an impression. I don’t think I saw more than the two scripts that were printed. I can only recall ever having a script each week in advance of the editorial team wanting it. Am I wrong about that? It does seem a risky way for them to do it. I was always on time even though aware that they set a date earlier than they really needed it. Not all artists were as good at deadlines as I was. Always thought that was one of the reasons I was kept on. The weekly script one week in advance was the norm even when later I had two strips running concurrently in Look-in.
Rod Hull and Emu
You haven’t asked about this but searching my bookshelf for something I came across a Look-in Roy Hull and Emu Annual 1975. Emu was never in Look-in so it must have been a one-off. It has strips, games, puzzles, jokes, stories, crafts etc all written by Angus Allan and, in at least three different styles, all drawn by me. It seems to indicate my standing at Look-in as an artist for anything going. Rod Hull liked it.
An embarrassing confession. It appears that I did sell some Beatles artwork in the 90’s. The agent for my work at that time had a query from a buyer after Beatles artwork and as so many pages were anyway missing - ‘lost’ at publishers - it seems I agreed. I put it that way because I had quite forgotten. The buyer took 3 pages and the agent bought one. This came to my notice when the agent returned a fifth piece he still had.
The page returned is no 42 in the original Look-in series.
Of the other four , Page 2 in the Look-in series, page 20 in the ehapa book and another I can’t identify was sold to Paul I believe his name is, in Liverpool. Full name and address unknown.
The page the agent has features the Royal Command performance and I don’t know a page number.
I am telling you this to keep you informed. I could send poor copies of the pages if for any reason you wanted them. Do you have a copy of the Look-in original re-print?
My guess is the Robin Nedwell guest appearance was just my idea of a joke. Like the X-Ray Who Ray sign, and the upside down book saying something about being upside down, I seem unable to keep my thoughts to myself.
As I said I had no recollection of doing this strip but it brings back warm memories and I seemed to have been enjoying myself in a semi-anarchic kind of way. The strips I always liked are ones where there was something personal going on between the artist and his work. I don’t like those professional, commercial, worthy strips that look like a job of work for the artist however proficient.
The signature thing may have been part of that but I do remember there was or had been some stuff going on about whether artists should sign their work. (think for a while Look-in had forebidden it ) I can’t recall exactly or what happened. Harry North, John Burns and Martin Asbury all signed.
Was the dispute I am thinking of pre their days? Am I confusing Look-in with somewhere else?
In fact I’m a life long smoker who has given it up at least six times. The ‘don’t smoke’ warnings were a public health warning to the young readers of Look-in. That sounds uncomfortably public spirited but I was always conscious of the readership.
I had read Just William as a kid. There was another series by the same author about a boy called Jimmy, which as a boy I preferred. As an adult I was aware of Thomas Henry through my interest in illustration, in the same way one would know about the drawings for Winnie the Pooh.
It was more like work and I was learning again. This was `serious’ so no room for play on my part. In those days like a lot of artists I did suppose that the `serious’ strips were the ones that made a reputation.
The Bionic Woman
would have been part of that same mindset when/if it came to any regrets about leaving it.
Logan's Run What don't I like about it?
It looks clumsy and unexciting. It was before my Al Williamson epiphany.
Colin might know more about the content of the story.
What exactly was Angus Allan's 'grumble' about it? The interference and second guessing. Some thing like not being left alone to get on with a job he knew better then most. It is possible that the editorial ruling that guns should not appear in strips was around at that time too,
No I never coloured the Target strip. This was cheap stuff, why pay me when they could get it done mechanically.
If I started Sapphire and Steel I would have been happy to let get Chips go. S&S offered more room for invention and trying stuff out.
Even seeing it I don’t remember this page, or the story you describe.
It never used to be usual for artists to do their own `sound effects’. I started it because I didn’t like much of what I saw. Effects in UK comics often looked `stuck on’ rather than integral to the frame or page.
Rod Hull and Emu
That is my drawing of Emu. Not that I remember it just that it looks like mine. If you can read the newspaper featured it might clinch it.
There were lots of Dangermouse Annuals. I say lots, I have two, 1984 and 1987 but I suspect more were produced. Every drawing in the 1987 one is by me, including the games and puzzles.
You were right the first time. The drawing (on the first page of each episode) completely covering the width of the top rather than leaving space for a title was part of the original drawings because when I started it I had in mind the hope that the whole strip might be printed as a complete story. At my suggestion Angus and I had kept copyright on it.
It was Al Williamson’s drawings for DC’s Weird Science where I first saw him. As I have said elsewhere what was so freeing for me was seeing an artist who just drew naturally in his own way without, as I then supposed one had to, having a `comic book style`. Or perhaps it was just a model that was closer to my own sensibility.
Nobody criticised Frank Hampson for his use of photographic reference. I started to use reference for consistency. If Joanna Lumley looks like Joanna Lumley everything else in the strip had to look as `real’. Not just figures and faces but backgrounds and props. There was a kind of drawing in comics where things,- guns , cars, pens, whatever, - were all generic rather than specific and identifiable. There was a whole history of TV and film based comics where the characters only bore the slightest resemblance to their real life counterparts. My feeling was if it was supposed to be Jon Pertwee and readers were paying for Jon Pertwee it was only right that the readers got Jon Pertwee. Or whoever.
I possible I raised the bar in that respect. As I understood it Martin Asbury separated from Look-in finally over whether his `portraits’ were sufficiently accurate.
I have a number of film books that I would use as starting points for drawings. Again in the interest of verisimilitude. I am not the only one. Al Williamson drew Stewart Granger as a SF hero, Montgomery Cliff is in the comic book version that became the gangster film with Tom Hanks and Paul Newman whose title I can‘t remember -and there are others. Comic book folk tend to be film fans. I think because we imagine they have a lot in common.
I did invent stuff.
I haven’t yet seen Best of 80s Look-in book.
You would think they could at least send people whose work they used without consultation a free copy.
Graham Kibble-White did phone me for a “quote” for it but my feeling was he had made up his mind about what he, and by extension me, was going to say anyway.
I bought a copy of the 70’s version. I was surprised to see that of the 64 covers shown on the end papers I did at least 13. A higher percentage than I would have expected. I say at least 13 ‘cos there is one I think I did but can’t be sure.
I will keep looking in charity bookshops for Dangermouse Annuals. Some I think were produced using the drawings they had at the animation studio.
I don’t think I ever used any portraits of Look-in staff and/or friends and family in Look-in strips. I started doing that with 2000AD stuff.
On the Look-in website there is an interview with Martin Asbury in which he talks about his departure from Look-in. It is one explanation.
There is also a sidelight on the question of the disposal of artwork. John Burns apparently was given the opportunity to collect his work and he called Asbury who believes I was there at the collection too. I wasn’t.
That Asbury was informed by Burns suggests that the editorial staff did not take the trouble to tell the artists what was going on. Bill Titcombe lost a lot of art too.
In the Best of Look-in book the Look-in cover I think might be mine is on the inside back cover and of a pop star I don’t recognise, dressed in black and shown three times. I was also supposing that the Wurzle Gummidge above it was mine but looking again I don’t think so.
The publishers should have credited these covers. Who did the Sapphire and Steel? It doesn’t look like Arnaldo Putzu.
Thanks for all the info Arthur, I didnt realise you drew every picture in the 87 Dangermouse annual, even including the puzzles?
glad it was of interest.
Answers to your questions :-
1) opportunity to work in comics hadn't arisen before.
2) because I can be a think-I-know-best idiot. The script that Alan sent started with a battle if I remember rightly but anyway a big dramatic scene. I have a taste for the slow build up, Treasure Island syle. I didn't have the sense to discuss it with him.
3) you are right, you are out of line. No offense taken.
Happy to answer questions about work life but have always been clear that this would not be about me as an individual, not a Facebook kind of site.
4) don't know the drawing but no, it wasn't me.
5) Facebook question.
All the best,