Denis McLoughlin “Buffalo Bill” art offered for sale by Illustration Art Gallery

1962 Buffalo Bill True West Annual  - art by Denis McLoughlin
1962 Buffalo Bill True West Annual – art by Denis McLoughlin

Britain has a long and distinguished tradition of publishing comic-branded hardback annuals featuring comic strip, stories and features. There aren’t as many as there once were – the humour comic BEANO being a one of a handful of exceptions to this, along with a Dandy Annual, too, even though that comic ceased physical publication in 2012.

Buffalo Bill was a staple of British comics through the 1950s and into the 1960s, with kids here as enamoured of the much fictionalised Wild West as much, I imagine, as many American children were, boosted by the popularity of various TV shows and feature films of the time.

Featured here is the original art for the 1962 Buffalo Bill True West Annual published by Dean, offered for sale by the Illustration Art Gallery, signed by the British artist Denis McLoughlin, who was a very much in demand artist well known for his work on western comics.

The artwork shows both the front and back cover of the book, the front a superb western scene and the back cover showing both Billy the Kid and General Custer of the 7th cavalry.

McLoughlin is perhaps best-remembered for his work on the highly-collectible series of thirteen Buffalo Bill annuals (published from 1949 to 1961), beautifully illustrated with meticulously authenticated Western lore.

“As a child, I collected them, and loved them, especially the features on what we’d now term Native American history and culture,” enthuses comic archivist Andrew Darlington in an article for downthetubes profiling McLoughlin’s space hero, Swift Morgan, as well as documenting the artist’s long career.

Endpapers from the 1959 Buffalo Bill Wild West Annual by Denis McLoughlin
Endpapers from the 1959 Buffalo Bill Wild West Annual by Denis McLoughlin

McLoughlin was also responsible for painting the full-colour covers for as many as 700 paperback and dust-jacket novels, Cowboys and Romances. His art adorns a new edition of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde as early as 1946, plus TV Boardman’s “Bloodhound Mystery” titles such as The Canvas Coffin by William Campbell-Gault, plus books by Fredric Brown, Ed McBain, Jack Webb and Theodora DuBois.

Later, his distinctive picture-strip artwork could also be found inking Saber: King Of The Jungle who, with Umbala his Zulu companion, encounters lost plateaus, ruined cities and malevolently carnivorous plants (Tiger, 1967-69, and Vulcan, 1975-76). “As proud and untamed as nature herself,” any resemblance to Tarzan is, of course, purely deliberate.

The True West artwork is on sale here from Illustration Art Gallery for £800

You can buy a copy of the 1962 Buffalo Bill True West Annual from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Andrew Darlington’s article on space hero Swift Morgan, also profiling artist Denis McLoughlin, is here on downthetubes – it includes links to a number of other Denis McLoughlin resources online

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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