“Jeff Hawke” creator Sydney Jordan dropped in on a very special event celebrating the legendary newspaper strip at the Cartoon Museum last night. Richard Sheaf reports…
London’s Cartoon Museum played host to an unofficial launch party of the latest illustrators special: The art of Sydney Jordan / The art of Jim Holdaway last night (Thursday 21st October 2021). The event proved an unprecedented opportunity to not only view the finest, and largest, collection of Sydney’s artwork I’ve ever seen, but also to meet the man himself, Sydney Jordan.
With nearly 200 pieces of Sydney’s “Jeff Hawke” artwork on view, first published in the Daily Express, this was a mouth-watering treat for fans of one of the most intelligent and beautifully produced newspaper strips ever printed.
Collector Alastair Hunter, previously a volunteer at the museum, kindly brought along the cream of his collection for fans to pore over, including early art from the “Jeff Hawke” strip, as well as unpublished material that Sydney had produced for a couple of abandoned projects.
The first of these was the full colour single page that survives for the strip “The Invaders”, dated 1960, and the second was six pages (five pages fully inked and one page of pencil roughs, with some inking) for a strip called “Invasion of the Drakkons”. This was a strip intended to run in a new comic, again, probably the 1960s, but the project foundered and the project was set aside.
As if this wasn’t enough to keep everyone interested… comic art curator Steve Marchant had also raided the museum archive in order to display some of Syd’s very early work, detailed in a blog post here, acquired from the Bayly-Souster Group art agency, run by Eric Souster and Ernest (also known as Bill) Bayly.
For me, this was the first time to see some of the early example of Syd’s formative years. I was familiar with his work on “Dick Hercules”, but the newspaper strip “Dora, Tony and Liz” was completely new to me. It was also the first time that Sydney had seen this artwork since it had been produced, definitely more than half a lifetime ago, so it was good to see him get re-acquainted with his old art.
Also on display, albeit virtually, was the prototype art for the “Jeff Hawke” strip – although at this stage the strip was actually called “Orion”.
Sydney attributed his and Jeff’s success at the Express to the influence of Sir Max Aitken, son of proprietor Lord Beaverbrook, who’d had a distinguished RAF career in World War Two, and thrilled to see his beloved fighter planes in the newspaper.
Much of the material, including that for “The Invaders”, “Invasion of the Drakkons”, “Dora, Tony and Liz”, as well as scans of the original art for many “Jeff Hawke” strips features in the 10th special edition of ‘Illustrators’ produced by Geoff West at the Book Palace.
Running to 160 pages, this is the biggest volume produced yet in this series and looks fantastic, highly recommended.
Thanks to all those involved in making this a night to remember at the Cartoon Museum.
All photos by and © Richard Sheaf
Special issue, limited to 1000 copies, and the biggest special issue yet! The sumptuous art quarterly presenting the world’s finest illustrators.
At long last, a fitting tribute to two of the greatest British newspaper comic strip artists, Sydney Jordan, renowned for the finest SF strip “Jeff Hawke” and Jim Holdaway, the definitive artist on Peter O’Donnell’s iconic “Modesty Blaise” newspaper strip.
With a touching foreword by Brian Bolland, features include the Jeff Hawke gallery, Jeff Hawke index, an in-depth interview with Sydney Jordan, the art of Jim Holdaway, the Modesty Blaise gallery, Modesty Blaise index, Romeo Brown index, and much more.