Bunty Library Issue 353

British Comics Mystery Artists – can you help identify them?

Bunty Library Issue 353
Spot the artist time. This is an intriguing, strip within a strip cover, but can you identify the artist? Read on to find out more…

Across decades of British comics creation by major publishers, the names of many creators – both writers and artists – were never revealed to readers of titles that once sold in their millions.

Artist and writer David Roach, author of titles such as Masters of of Spanish Comic Book Art and The Art of War, is trying to track down friends or relatives of some “mystery artists”, and we’re trying to help him with his quest. So, please share this post widely in the hopes we get some answers!

The reasons creators weren’t identified was in part so, it’s generally assumed, the best wouldn’t be poached by a rival comics company, and partly because no-one in the management of companies such as Fleetway or DC Thomson back then seems to have thought they needed to be.

(This is, of course, in complete contrast to the way creators were credited for their work in other countries and things are, we should stress, better now).

Things began to change from the 1950s onwards as some of the creators behind Eagle, for example, were visible from the outset, in thanks partly to associated that title’s club activities. As comics fandom developed in the 1960s, the first comic conventions took place, and US comics with clear credits for their authors proliferated, many creators at last found fame. Finally, many were associated with their comics work for the first time.

In the 1970s, as the creator of 2000AD, Pat Mills was one editor at the forefront of driving recognition for creators further with the inclusion of credit boxes on strips.

Today, credit for creators is the norm in most titles, from Beano and Commando to 2000AD (as ever) and Doctor Who Magazine. But a lack of records, often the result of company mergers or accident rather than design, means many great artists of yesteryear remain unidentified.

In many cases, the physical artwork for many of these strips, which might offer further clues, has long since vanished, for many different reasons, none of them good. The records for many DC Thomson’s girls comics creators, it’s reported, were lost in a flood!

“Their names simply aren’t known at all, that’s the problem, so we get suggestions [identifying living artists] when it’s clearly not them!” says David Roach, who has successfully identified around 90 per cent of the artists who worked on Bunty, Judy, Mandy and other DCT girls titles . “I suspect It will have to be a child, or grandchild who had a comic artist relative whose name has never made it into the public arena.”

Some girls comic artists in particular are proving hard to identify, so if you can help with discovering any of the creators whose work appears below, drop us a line or comment below where David can read it – or comment directly on this downthetubes Facebook Page post or this tweet.

(If you leave a suggestion elsewhere, it’s unlikely we’ll see it and the quest will continue in ignorance of your help).

Thank you! Do share this post… we’re on a mission, here!

Mystery Comic Artist One

The first artist David is trying to identify – who also drew the Bunty story featured at the top of this post – was drawing for Judy way for much of their comics life, right through the 1960s, 70s and 80s. He or she has a very distinctive, ultra-polished style, but never once sneaked a signature in anywhere. Who was it – any ideas out there?

“This person drew for DC Thomson for three decades, mostly on Judy, but never signed his or her name so I’ve no idea who it is,” says David. “Hopefully, someone out there will know though.”

Their credits also include “Mary Brown’s Schooldays” for Diana. Names such as Sandy James, Peter Kay and Neville Wilson have been discounted.

This strip – “Backstage Betty” – is from the 1960s when this artist was at their most fluid and bold, later strips were much stiffer. Any ideas?

A page from the Judy story "Backstage Betty", artist unknown. Names such as Peter Kay and Neville Wilson have been discounted.
A page from the Judy story “Backstage Betty”, artist unknown. Names such as Peter Kay and Neville Wilson have been discounted.

“Sonia’s Secret” ran in Judy in the 1970s. It’s typical of his or her 1970s style – lots of long shots, stiffer figures and lots of line work.

"Sonia's Secret", published in Judy in the 1970s. Artist unknown
“Sonia’s Secret”, published in Judy in the 1970s. Artist unknown

This strip – “The Dolls Who Loved Diana” – was published in Judy in the 1980s strip from Judy. “His (or her) later strips are notable for their distinctive, obsessive line work which is incredibly neat and precise,” notes David. “Someone out there must have an name for me surely – a distant relative who drew girls comics perhaps?”

"The Dolls Who Loved Diana" from Judy, artist unknown
“The Dolls Who Loved Diana” from Judy, artist unknown

Mystery Comic Artist Two

Here’s another artist who David has tried to identify many times without any luck. “This is a British artist who mostly drew for DC Thomson, but also pops up in IPC’s girls comics as well.

“They have a really distinctive detailed style,” David enthuses, “It’s someone who can definitely draw.”

There have been several suggestions made, some including artists who worked on DCT boys adventure titles, but David feels this particular artist worked exclusively on girls comics, just like other great creators such as John Armstrong, who drew “Bella at the Bar” for Jinty.

This strip – “Bess’s Secret Brother” was published in Judy in the 1980s. But who was the artist?

"Bess's Secret Brother" , a strip for Judy published in the 1980s. Artist unknown
“Bess’s Secret Brother” , a strip for Judy published in the 1980s. Artist unknown

Unusually, this same artist also worked on IPC’s girls comics as well as DC Thomson’s. Here’s an example of “Slaves of the Trapeze”, published in Sandie in 1972.

"Slaves of the Trapeze", published in Sandie in 1972. Artist unknown
“Slaves of the Trapeze”, published in Sandie in 1972. Artist unknown

The next example, “Fiona and the Fighting Finsters”, ran in Sandie in 1973.

"Fiona and the Fighting Finsters", ran in Sandie in 1973. Artist unknown
“Fiona and the Fighting Finsters”, ran in Sandie in 1973. Artist unknown

His or her most famous strip is “Hettie High and Mighty“, which ran in Jinty, published in 1975. “Stylistically, this is not very different from other girls mainstays like Phillip Townsend, Leo Davy, Phil Gascoine and Bill Baker so I’m sure he’s British,” David feels, “but I’ve never seen a signature in all the years he drew comics.

“It’s immensely frustrating, and sad, because this is really nice work and should be celebrated.”

A page from "Hettie High and Mighty", which was published in Jinty in 1975. Artist unknown.
A page from “Hettie High and Mighty”, which was published in Jinty in 1975. Artist unknown.

• If you can help identify any of the creators whose work appears below, drop us a line or comment below where David Roach can read it – or comment directly on this downthetubes Page Facebook post or this tweet.

(If you leave a suggestion elsewhere, it’s unlikely we’ll see it and the quest will continue in ignorance of your help).

Thank you! And, again, please share this post…

• If you’re interested in British girls comics, then two sites – Girls Comics of Yesterday and A Resource on Jinty – are great places to start!

UPDATE – 20th June 2018

Adding to examples of the artists David is trying to identify, this strip, “Sue Spiker” from Emma, may have generated a new lead…

“Sue Spiker” from Emma
“Sue Spiker” from Emma

This strip prompted a member of the ComisUK community to direct David toward artist “B Jackson”, who was credited for this illustration in the Daily Mirror Book for Girls 1971, and the strip “Run Rosie Run”.

Illustration by “B. Jackson” for the Daily Mirror Book for Girls 1971
Illustration by “B. Jackson” for the Daily Mirror Book for Girls 1971
“Run Rosie, Run” Idrawn by “B. Jackson” for the Daily Mirror Book for Girls 1971
“Run Rosie, Run” Idrawn by “B. Jackson” for the Daily Mirror Book for Girls 1971

It looks like this could well be one of the “Mystery Artists” David is searching for, but comics archivist Steve Holland has found no records anywhere of a B Jackson, which is very interesting.

“It means he’s a copletely new name which is exciting in itself, whether or not he turns out to be our mystery artist,” says David. “I have every Daily Mirror annual, except this one so his name is certainly new to me.”

Do you know or are you related to the mysterious “B. Jackson”? Are they Male or female? Please comment below and help David in his continuing quest!

Published by

John Freeman

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.