Last Saturday’s Comic Jam Symposium at London’s Cartoon Museum really got comics artist and author David Roach fired up to try and identify some of the last unknown British comic artists that have been nagging away at him for years.
Please note, we’re updating this article if artists are identified!
(Information on writers – for all British comics companies – is also very welcome, since this continues to be hard to discover, due to missing company records, particularly for IPC/ Fleetway).
“Last week, we discovered the name Don Walker – artist on Judy‘s ‘Backstage Betty’ and a DC Thomson girls comic regular for over 30 years, so anything is possible,” notes David, whose latest book on the world of comic creators, Masters of British Comic Art, is out from Rebellion next year.
Over the next few days, David will be posting a number of the great Unknowns to his Facebook – in the hope that someone out there recognises their art.
Perhaps it was a parent, co-worker or long lost relative? If you recognise any of them, please comment below.
This isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted one of David’s appeals, and we hope posting his “Mystery Artists” here helps find some answers… as it did back in May 2018.
The discovery of Don Walker’s identity came about through researcher Lorraine Nolan‘s contact with the family of author Marion Turner, who wrote many scripts under the name Fiona Turner for DC Thomson girls comics, including “Supercats” (for Spellbound), “Cybela” (for Judy) and “The Double Life of Sad Sarah” (for Mandy), detailed on this extensive site.
Her son Philip identified Don Walker as the artist on “Cybela”.
Mystery Artist Number One
“This page is by someone I’ve nicknamed ‘Square Face’,” says David, “because of their predilection for drawing quite wide faces – but they are certainly skilful and talented, whoever they are.
This is from Bunty 1092 in 1978 though the artist was a regular at DC Thomson for decades. Any ideas?”
Mystery Artist Number Two
“Another great British Unknown from DC Thomson’s Girls Comics, in this case the scan is taken from Bunty 234 in 1962. It’s accomplished art, with possibly a hint of our ‘Square Face’ artist about it.”
Do you recognise who it might be?
Mystery Artist Number Three
Another mystery girls comic artist – taken from Debbie 45, 1973.
“I’ve nick-named this person ‘Snub Nose’, because of the very distinctive turned up noses he or she always drew,” says David. “They were quite prolific through the 1970s, though still un-named as far as I know, unless anyone out there can help identify them?”
Mystery Artist Number Four
“Reach for the Stars” ran in Nikki, from #1 in 1985, so quite possibly this “Mystery Artist” is someone who is still alive.
“This is a pretty accomplished cute looking art style,” David notes, “very much on the cartoony spectrum of girls art… any ideas?”
Mystery Artist Number Five
Most British comic fans are well aware of Misty, but DC Thomson’s Spellbound preceded it by a year and featured some fabulous artists such as Norman Lee, Jesus Redondo, Miguel Fuster, Brian Lewis and the Romero brothers.
It also included this “Unknown” artist on several strips including “Revenge of the Black Swan” in Spellbound 16, 1977, and “Hetty in the House of Secrets“, who some have suggested might be Manuel Carmona.
“I’ve always thought this artist was Argentinian, because the art looks very like Jose Delbo, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t him since he was busy at DC drawing Wonder Woman at the time,” says David. “But that’s what’s sent me in the direction of this being an Argentinian artist.
“It’s all guess-work though! He or she could be Spanish I guess, Or even British, it’s very hard to be sure.
“It’s an understated style, but well drawn. Any ideas?”
Mystery Artist Number Six
Who drew strips such as “Whatever Became of Betsy“, which also featured in Spellbound Issue 28?
“I’m sure this person is British and they’re clearly trying to draw like Norman Lee,” notes David, “but I’m really not sure who it could be – any ideas out there?”
Mystery Artist Number Seven
These Romeo covers feature a rare example of a signature, in this case someone called “Tony”… but Tony who?
“This artist appears for many, many years in DC Thomson Romance and girls comics, mostly drawing in this slightly sketchy style,” David notes.
“Does someone must know who he is?”
Mystery Artist Number Eight
Another DC Thomson Romance artist – and another signature which seems to be “R Hanna“…. does anyone know who that might be?
“I wonder if it might be our mystery ‘Whatever Happened to Betsy’ artist,” David Roach ventures, “trying to draw like Norman Lee. The inking is a bit similar. I’ve always assumed that both R Hanna and Tony might have been DC Thomson staffers perhaps? Mostly working on covers and illustrations wherever needed.
Mystery Artist Number Nine
Sometimes trying to pin down a style can be tricky – particularly when much of an artists work is made up of swipes. This example from Spellbound Issues 54 is typical of this “Mystery Artist” – who offers a very detailed inking style over artwork that’s mostly swiped from Pepe Gonzalez’ Vampirella.
“There is a naive quality to the art which makes me think the artist is British, trying their hardest to look Spanish, armed with a big pile of Warren comics,” David Roach comments. “Later pages swipe from Luis Garcia and Fernando Fernandez as well. But… any ideas who this might be?”
Who’s Asking For Help?
If you can help David in his continuing quest, please comment below (please note that if you haven’t commented before, your comments go through a one time approval process) or comment on his Facebook posts.
Information on writers welcome, too!
Information on writers – for all British comics companies – is also very welcome, since this continues to be hard to discover, due to missing company records, particularly for IPC/ Fleetway.
At present, for example, comics researcher and Senior Lecturer at the Manchester School of Art Joan Ormrod is wondering if anyone knows anything about a British comics of a writer – or studio – called Sampson?
She’s working through issues of Mirabelle from 1967 and there are a lot of references to this person/persons, writing a good chunk of the stories and would welcome information.
Please, by all means comment below if you can help!
• Masters of British Comic Art by David Roach on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
All art copyright DC Thomson