Comic Creator Spotlight: TV Century 21 artist Rab Hamilton… or should that be Robert?

Our recent coverage of art by artist Rab Hamilton on offer from Phil-Comics – part of Jim Baikie’s art collection – has unexpectedly unearthed an anomaly in his entry on the very useful online resource, Lambiek Comiclopedia,

Currently on offer are two pages of the Roxy strip “Ann and Pam, part of a longer story published in the Issue over dated 14th March 1964, a lot that erroneously gives possible buyers the impression they are work of Jim Baikie, which auctioneer Phil Shrimpton acknowledges as an error, but the eBay system prevents any amendments to a listing’s details, once bids have been made,

As we previously reported, the pages are almost certainly the work of Rab Hamilton, whose real name was Alex Hamilton, who also drew various stories for ValentineMarilynRoxy and Serenade in the early 1960s.

Fellow artist David Slinn informs us Rab’s earliest involvement with Valentine was in 1957, an artist with “an apparently prolific output and an assured inking-technique, suggested someone older than my late-teens,” he says.

Rab also handled the illustrations for something along similar lines, for Serenade in late-1962.

“As I recall, ‘Rab’ came from his initials, Robert, Alex, B(?) – and, at first, he may have been referred to as Bob Hamilton.” David notes. “During 1959-61, he drew the relatively short-lived strip, “I’m Patti“, in the Daily Mirror. From memory, “Ann and Pam” was a feature in Roxy (1962-63).”

Steve Holland’s Bear Alley provides the information that “I’m Patti“, intended as a replacement for “Jane”, written by Jenny Butterworth, with art credited to “Bob Hamilton”, ran from October 1959 until August 1961, encompassing just seven stories about an 18-years-old who’d run away from her home in Bruddersfield “to find out what makes the Bright Lights twinkle”.

Rab went on to became a regular in TV Century 21 with the serial “Secret Agent 21” (1965-69), that later became “Mr. Magnet”, and also drew strips for Lady Penelope, his credits on the latter including “Marina, Girl of the Sea” (1966-67), “The Girl from UNCLE” (1967) and “Class Six Sterndorf” (1968).

"Secret Agent 21", drawn by Rab Hamilton, makes his debut in TV Century 21 No. 21, cover dated 12th June 2065 (yes, you did read that right...) © Anderson Entertainment
“Secret Agent 21”, drawn by Rab Hamilton, makes his debut in TV Century 21 No. 21, cover dated 12th June 2065 (yes, you did read that right…) © Anderson Entertainment
The opening page of the one-off strip "A Matter of Contact" from Countdown No. 37, cover dated 10th October 1971. Art by Rab Hamilton
The opening page of the one-off strip “A Matter of Contact” from Countdown No. 37, cover dated 10th October 1971. Art by Rab Hamilton

He also worked on various early Sindy titles, including Sindy & Patch Gift Book (1966), and Sindy in the Country (undated), the latter with a cover by Philip Townsend, both published by Young World Publications.

Sindy Annual 1971 - cover by Rab Hamilton
Sindy Annual 1971 – cover by Rab Hamilton

Lambiek’s outline of Rab Hamilton’s comics career notes he seems to have ceased working in the industry in 1973, and anyone simply visiting that page may well assume that was an end of the artist’s career, an accomplished creator who also drew one-off stories and short-run strips for comics like Countdown, Sally, Sandie, Joe 90: Top Secret, June and TV Action.

Except, until recently, Lambiek’s next entry in its exhaustive and indispensable directory, now removed, was for a British artist called “Robert Hamilton”, who, among other things, drew a Dutch newspaper strip, “Aafje Anders“, strips also clearly the work of Rab Hamilton, and “Kitty” for the Dutch comic Tina, published in 1974.

The work the team working on Lambiek put into the site is quite remarkable and it is a fantastic resource fro archivists, and now this anomaly has been pointed out, they have combined the pages and totally updated Rab’s entry.

Further researching the artist, who moved from comics to advertising storyboards work in the 1970s, I have since discovered other web sites have also separated “Rab” (the Scottish derivation of Robert) and “Robert” Hamilton). Given how little we know about the artist, beyond his many strip credits, under different names, such inadvertent confusion is understandable.

I would never claim to be an expert at identifying comic artists, and I’m regularly in awe of those who are far better at such work. For me, Steve Holland, the late Colin Noble, David Roach, David Slinn, Lew Stringer, and Shaqui le Vesconte are among those who have kindly helped identify “Mystery Artists” for me in the past, and some creators leave even them scratching their heads, since many British comics did not credit those who worked on them.

But this Jekyll and Hyde-style separation of “Rab” and “Robert” Hamilton is a salutary reminder to try, where possible, to double check even the most authoritative of sources!

Rab Hamilton in Holland

An early episode of the eighth untitled "Aafje Anders" story, written by Andries Brandt with art are by Robert Hamilton & Richard Klokkers, published in the Dutch newspaper De Telefgraaf. Via  Bobbedoes
An early episode of the eighth untitled “Aafje Anders” story, written by Andries Brandt with art are by Robert Hamilton & Richard Klokkers, published in the Dutch newspaper De Telefgraaf. Via Bobbedoes

Launched in 1971, “Aafje Anders“, conceived and written by Andries Brandt, initially drawn by Jan van Haasteren and, later, Robert Hamilton with Richard Klokkers on backgrounds, published in De Telegraaf, drew to a close in April 1973.

The light-hearted strip, about the adventures of 18-year-old Aafje, ran for a total of 10 stories, seven collected by the publishing house Arboris in three albums.

Bas Schuddeboom at Lambiek is also the comic editor for the Dutch girls magazine Tina, which was originally based on the UK title Princess Tina, a title that is still going strong in Holland after more than 50 years. After we contacted him about the directory anomaly, he very kindly may be able to find out more about Rab (a Scottish derivation, of course, of Robert) in the title’s archives.

“The ‘Aafje Anders’ strip was produced and distributed by the Toonder Studio’s, at the time the largest comics production house in the Netherlands,” Bas tells us.

LTheir best known series were Marten Toonder‘s own creations, Tom Puss and Panda, but they also produced a lot of other comic strips that were syndicated to newspapers. One of the later ones was ‘Aafje Anders’, a recalcitrant girl with out-of-the-box solutions to everyday problems. Her adventures are set in Amsterdam, so it’s a typical Dutch comic, written by Toonder staffer Andries Brandt.

“The conclusion of the strip coincides with the closing of the Toonder Studio’s comic strip department, in 1973. The two staff writers, Patty Klein and Andries Brandt, as well as most of the freelance artists, then became staples of the comic magazines published by Oberon.

LAndries Brandt wrote many comics for girls’ magazine Tina, which by 1973 had dropped most of its ties with the British original, Princess Tina, and featured many original productions. A lot of of Spanish agency artists involved with the British Princess Tina began working directly for the Dutch Tina for decades to come, until about 2010. Their agency was the London-based Creaciones Editoriales, managed by Luis Llorente (he died a couple of years ago, but his wife Isabel is still alive).

“Our Tina not only featured artwork by Spanish artists, but also by British creators,” he reveals, “like Bert Hill. So I guess Creaciones also represented some British artists.

“Tina published four stories drawn by Robert Hamilton: three serials of 44 pages starring Kitty in 1974-1975, written by Andries Brandt, and one of 34 pages called ‘Brigit en de mini’s‘ (Tina 1977-23 through 36). We don’t know the writer of the latter, so it might be a translation of a British serial.”

So how did Robert Hamilton end up in the Dutch Tina?

“I see two options,” says Bas. “The most logical would seem Andries Brandt suggested him, since they had worked together on Aafje Anders. But it’s also possible that Hamilton came with the Creaciones wave. Hamilton’s debut in Tina was around the same time as the arrival of Princess Tina veterans Purita Campos, Comos and Edmond.”

A recent magazine series about the Toonder Studio’s by Jan-Willem de Vries Bas notes that after a disagreement, Jan van Haasteren left both the studio’s and the ‘Aafje Anders’ strip.

Marten Toonder, who lived in Ireland since the mid 1960s, got the tip to recruit Hamilton,” Bas tells us. “I must note here that Toonder’s ties with the everyday production of the studios were very limited by that time, but he was still involved as an advisor. Hamilton took over in the middle an ongoing story.

“De Vries writes that the collaboration instantly satisfied Brand,” Bas tells us. “Hamilton managed to bring exactly the right style and atmosphere to the comic Brandt had envisioned. Every time the new artwork arrived, it was a feast for the writer. But the Brit penciled and inked only the characters. For the backgrounds, he provided quick sketches. These were finished at the studio by Richard Klokkers. This saved costs, since Brandt couldn’t afford Hamilton for the whole job.

“Apparently, ‘Aafje Anders’ was not a success, and every attempt to sell the strip on the British market, failed,” Bas continues.”De Vries mentions that years later, Andries Brandt suggested ‘Aafje Anders’ to Tina magazine. The editors were enthusiastic, but Hamilton never replied to his proposal. So I guess this was after the ‘Kitty’serials.

A test page for ‘Tina en Debbie’ for Tina comic, drawn by Robert Hamilton:. With thanks to Bas Schuddeboom
A test page for ‘Tina en Debbie’ for Tina comic, drawn by Robert Hamilton:. With thanks to Bas Schuddeboom

“ In a 1985 reprint collection of Aafje Anders, Andries Brandt mentioned that Hamilton was also intended to take over Tina’s title comic, ‘Tina en Debbie’, written by Brandt and drawn by Purita Campos. But that never happened, and Campos drew it until well into the 21st century. Brandt also mentioned that Hamilton later turned to making advertising storyboards . However, in the same interview, Brandt also says that he was still working with Hamilton as an illustrator for the Tina Boelboek series. So that would imply that Robert Hamilton was active until at least the 1980s.”

If you have further information on Rab Hamilton’s career, please get in touch.

The “Ann and Pam” original artwork from Valentine, published in1964, is offered here by Phil-Comics on eBay

Lambiek’s entry revised profile for Rab Hamilton is here

Girls Comics of Yesterday – Robert Hamilton Entries

This article was last updated on Sunday 12th May 2021 to reflect changes made by Lambiek and correct the information about Sindy in the Country

Rab Hamilton – Stripography

A panel from the newspaper strip "I'm Patti", drawn by Rab Hamilton as Bob Hamilton
A panel from the newspaper strip “I’m Patti”, drawn by Rab Hamilton as Bob Hamilton

If you have further information on Rab Hamilton’s career, please get in touch.

The Daily Mirror

• “I’m Patti” (1959 – 1961)

Written by Jenny Butterworh, a replacement strip for “Jane”. Rab is credited as Bob Hamilton

Bear Alley – “I’m Patti” – Checklist and Information

Mariyn

• “My Sister’s Impossible Husband” (1961-64)

Roxy

• “Ann and Pam” (1962 – 1963)

Serenade

Illustrated Features (1962)

Sindy

Sindy in the Country features a cover by Philip Townsend, with interior art by Rab Hamilton. From the collection of Deb Richardson
Sindy in the Country features a cover by Philip Townsend, with interior art by Rab Hamilton. From the collection of Deb Richardson
Sindy in the Country - art by Rab Hamilton. From the collection of Deb Richardson
Sindy in the Country – art by Rab Hamilton. From the collection of Deb Richardson
Sindy & Patch Gift Book art by Rab Hamilton. From the collection of Deb Richardson
Sindy & Patch Gift Book art by Rab Hamilton. From the collection of Deb Richardson

Rab Hamilton was the uncredited seemingly-go-to artist for some of the Sindy annuals and storybooks in the 1960s. These included Sindy & Patch Gift Book (1966), and Sindy in the Country (undated), both published by Young World Publications

Valentine

• “Whatever Will Be Will Be”
One of story for the first issue

TV Century 21

• “Secret Agent 21” (1965-69)
Launched in Issue 21, the strip later became “Mr. Magnet”, capitalising on the interest in superheroes, then reverted to its original title. The strip also featured in some TV21 specials and annuals, drawn by Rab, including the TV Century 21 Summer Extra (1965) and TV Century 21 International Extra (1965)

Lady Penelope

• “Marina, Girl of the Sea” (1966-67)

Rab also drew the strip for some Lady Penelope annuals. Shaquile le Vesconte notes Rab was,no stranger to Stingray, having illustrated almost all of the ©1965 annual and contributing to the Television Story Book. He gave the strip an aquatic fairy tale appearance, and embellished the space between the frames with little undersea motifs like starfish, crabs, anchors and, on a few occasions, aquaphibians and terror fish.

Rab also drew some Stingray advertisements for arm fins.

• “The Girl from UNCLE” (1967)

• “Class Six Sterndorf” (1968)

Joe 90: Top Secret

• “Joe 90”
Issue 34, cover dated 6th September 1969

Countdown

One Shot Stories

• “The Ktuman Invasion” – Issue 31
• “Dangerous Drive” – Issue 33
• “A Matter of Contact” – Issue 37

• UFO – “The Alien-Heart Attack”
Issue 41, cover dated 26 November 1971

1970s GIRLS COMICS

Bunty

• “Big Spender” – Bunty-Judy Special 1976 (reprint?)
• “Big Spender” – Bunty-Judy Special 1977 (reprint?)

Diana

• “You Can’t Lick the Cornets!” – Diana series, sometime in late 1971

• “Secret of the Mountain Dog” – Diana Annual 1971
• “A Penny for the Cornets” – Diana Annual 1973

Judy

• “Big Spender” – series, Sporadic appearances from #779 (14/12/74) to #1331 (13/7/85)

• “Janet on Wheels” – Judy series, #887 (08 January 1977) to #892 (19 February 1977) and #916 (30 July 1977) to #922 (10 September 1977)

• “Gentle Jenny” – Judy series, #631 (12 February 1972) to #642 (29 April 1972)

• “Gentle Jenny” – Judy Annual 1973

• “Skinflnt SchoolJudy Annual 1974

“Skinfkint School” was also drawn by George Parlett, Ron Smith and others for the weekly comic

• “My Brother Barney” – Judy for Girls Annual 1975

• “Jane to the Rescue” – Judy Annual 1978
• “Big Spender” – Judy Annual 1978
• “Janet on Wheels ” – Judy Annual 1978
• “Moira’s Magic Mirror” – Judy Annual 1978
• “I Wish I Were You!” – Judy Annual 1978

Jinty

• “The Nodding Mandarin” – Jinty Annual 1977 (probably a reprinted Strange Story from June)

June

Information Welcome! Rab handled some of the complete stories in this long-running title

Mandy

• “Valda” – Mandy Annual 1971

• “A Home for Heather” – Mandy Annual 1972

DC Thomson Picture Library

Work on these included :

• “House of Hate” Bunty Picture Story Library 80 (December 1969)
• “The Long Walk” Judy Picture Story Library 117 (January 1973)
• “Snap-Happy Hetty” Judy Picture Story Library 129 (January 1974)
• “Big Spender” Judy Picture Story Library 236 (December 1982)

Sally

• “The Ghost Hunters” – iaunched in the issue cover dated 9th May 1970

The opening page of a "The Ghost Hunters" story from Sally, titled "The Train From The Past", from the issue cover dated 14th March 1970. With thanks to Paul Brown
The opening page of a “The Ghost Hunters” story from Sally, titled “The Train From The Past”, from the issue cover dated 14th March 1970. With thanks to Paul Brown

Sandie

A page from “Seanna of the Seas” from Sandie, cover dated 12th August 1972. With thanks to David Slinn

• “Seanna of the Seas” (Series)

HAMILTON IN HOLLAND

De Telegraf – Holland

• Aafje Anders (1971 – 1973)

An episode of the eighth untitled "Aafje Anders" story, written by Andries Brandt with art are by Robert Hamilton & Richard Klokkers, published in the Dutch newspaper Telefgraaf on 20th October 1972
An episode of the eighth untitled “Aafje Anders” story, written by Andries Brandt with art are by Robert Hamilton & Richard Klokkers, published in the Dutch newspaper De Telefgraaf on 20th October 1972. Via CatWiki

Produced by Toonder Studios, conceived and written by Andries Brandt, this strip centring on the adventures of a teenage girl was initially drawn by Jan van Haasteren and, later, Robert Hamilton with Richard Klokkers on backgrounds,

Delpher is a fully searchable archive of Dutch newspapers – here is a search for “Aafje Anders”

Wikipedia – “Aafje Anders” (in Dutch) | Checklist (in Dutch)

Tina – Holland

Kitty, for Tuna, drawn by Rab Hamilton
Kitty, for Tuna, drawn by Rab Hamilton

• “Kitty” (1974-1975)
Written by Andries Brandt

• “Brigit en de mini’s” (1977-23 through 36) – possibly British reprint

Hamilton continued to work with Andries Brandt, on a couple of independent stories for the Tina Boel Boek series. He then left the comics field and began doing storyboards in advertising.

Bas Schuddeboom tells us the Boel Boeks appeared in the mid 1980s, and Andries Brandt died in 1986, so no information is known from after We believe Rab’s work involved illustrations for text stories and no comics, but if you have copies, information is welcomed

With many thanks to Deb Richardson, David Slinn, Bas Schuddeboom and Shaqui Le Vesconte

Secret Agent 21 © Anderson Entertainment
“A Matter of Contact” © REACH
The TV Century 21 brand © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

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.



Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Girls Comics, SF Comics

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3 replies

  1. Here are a few more Rab/Robert Hamilton strips in girls’ comics, mostly series in the weekly papers which gave rise to the annual stories listed above:

    “Big Spender”: Judy – sporadic appearances from #779 (14/12/74) to #1331 (13/7/85)

    “Janet on Wheels”: Judy series, #887 (08 January 1977) to #892 (19 February 1977) and #916 (30 July 1977) to #922 (10 September 1977)

    “Gentle Jenny”: Judy series, #631 (12 February 1972) to #642 (29 April 1972)

    “You Can’t Lick the Cornets!”: Diana series, sometime in late 1971

    “The Nodding Mandarin”: Jinty Annual 1977 (probably a reprinted Strange Story from June)

  2. He also did a few Picture Story Libraries for DCT. Here are the ones that I’ve seen:

    “House of Hate” Bunty Picture Story Library 80 (December 1969)
    “The Long Walk” Judy Picture Story Library 117 (January 1973)
    “Snap-Happy Hetty” Judy Picture Story Library 129 (January 1974)
    “Big Spender” Judy Picture Story Library 236 (December 1982)

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