An early artwork by “Oor Wullie” and Beano artist Dudley D. Watkins is currently up for sale on eBay. Picturing two Elizabethan gentlemen, bidding starts at £250 and the auctions runs until lunchtime next Thursday (15th August 2019).
The art is described as being painted in 1924, when Dudley began studying at the Nottingham School of Art (not Glasgow School of Art, which is a common and inaccurate error made about his life). This “Elizabethan Scene” is a watercolour on paper applied to board, measuring approx 21″ x 15″ was painted before he embarked on his comics career, moving from Nottingham to Dundee, leaving family behind.
Dudley’s signature is partially obscured by what is possibly the remains of glue from a previous mounting.
Some have remarked on the central characters resemblance to comedians Laurel and Hardy, who did work together on one film in 1921, but they are much better known for films that beagn to be made later in the 1920s.
The seller, hamer8 – who is also selling an impressive range of Rupert the Bear-related books – suggests the art is quite likely an exam piece or was drawn as part of his application to enter the school.
It’s certainly a very early piece of art from the man who went on to draw Desperate Dan, Biffo the Bear, The Broons and Oor Wullie among many others. A wonderful opportunity for the collector, researcher or art gallery.
UPDATE, 15th August: The artwork sold for £630
Everybody from Judy Murray to Ian Rankin has joined in the conversation about the striking artworks commemorating Oor Wullie, which have been installed at a variety of sites across Dundee. Neil Drysdale suggests it’s time to celebrate the achievements of Dudley D. Watkins, a famous adopted Dundonian, who brought the little scamp to life in the first place
• The Broons and Oor Wullie Fan Site (Wayback Archive)
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With thanks to Richard Sheaf – and Angela Keyworth for correcting us on our account of Dudley’s early life (see below)