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Monday, January 22, 2018

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats

Subtitled "Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980", Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats edited by Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette covers that period of paperback fiction that I've always found fascinating. Paperback sales in Britain blossomed in 1950 when paper became more readily available to publishers and the decade following saw the growth of Penguin, Pan, Corgi, Panther and others.

By the end of the decade the UK paperback market faced the twin attacks of the rising popularity of TV and the market being swamped by cheap American paperbacks, with unsold copies brought over from the States for distribution to newsagents' spinner racks and dump bins in Woolworths.

While larger companies can weather such changes, smaller companies had to find ways to survive, and that usually involves one of two ways: to go sleazier or to go more niche... even better if you can do both at the same time. This is why a company like Edwin Self's Pedigree Books managed to survive against the odds, with reprints of Hal Ellson's youthspoitation classics Duke and Reefer Boy, books about the occult and startling original works like R. A. Norton's Through Beatnik Eyeballs.

The growth of youth culture in the 1950s was exploited mercilessly by publishers in the US, who played on fears of juvenile delinquents, hot-rodders and biker gangs to sell books; here in the UK we had a similar explosion of books following the success of Skinhead by Richard Allen, New English Library and other paperback publishers discovering that every tabloid headline was a potential novel, from stoned hippies to soccer hooligans and from cult murderers to hell's angels.

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats isn't a straight telling of history, but a jigsaw that builds up into a widescreen picture of its subjects, using essays about juvenile delinquency, youthsploitation, beats, bikers and bohemians as a starting point; the reader is then treated to reviews of some of the key novels in each of seven sections and interviews with some of those involved, including Ann Bannon, Floyd Salas, Sharon Rudahl, Brad Lang, Marijane Meaker and George Snyder. With my main interest being British paperbacks, it was a real pleasure to see Laurence James interviewed (he authored the Mick Norman Hells Angels books, amongst many, many others) by Stewart Home, one of 23 contributors.

Sections on teens on the rampage and super spies are probably my favourites; a huge plus for me is that these titles  usually had fantastic painted covers, quite a few of which (especially the Australian pulp titles) I've never seen before. The whole book is incredibly well illustrated and is a great book to dip into thanks to the dozens of reviews. How many of these old books do you remember?

At the back of the book there's an advert for an upcoming title from the same editors: Sticking It To The Man. Put me down for a copy, because on the basis of Girl Gangs it's going to be well worth getting your hands on a copy.

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats edited by Iain McIntyre and Andrew Nette. PM Press ISBN 978-162963438-8, 2017, 334pp, $29.95. Available in the UK via Amazon.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

P B Hickling

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

P. B. Hickling was another artist who was equally at home providing illustrations for periodicals such as The Sphere, The Graphic and The Strand Magazine as he was illustrating children’s books, especially girls’ school stories. He was, perhaps best-known for the work he did in the last two or three years of his life, illustrating 10 animal story Ladybird books written by Noel Barr.

He was born in Nottingham on 22 September 1876, and christened Percy Bell Hickling. His father, William Edwin Hickling, born in Leicester in 1844, was originally a mechanical engineer who later became an accountant. He had married Mary Bell, born in 1845 in Denton, Lincolnshire, in 1865. Percy was the sixth of seven children, his siblings being Herbert (born in 1867), Henry (1869), John (1870, Edith (1872), Mary Mabel (1875) – all born in Grantham, Lincolnshire – and Evelyn (born in 1878 in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire).

At the time of the 1881 census, the family was living in Salisbury Road, Leicester, By 1888, they had moved to 66 Laurel Road, Leicester, from where, on 22 January 1889, Percy entered Wyggeston Hospital Boys’ School (later Wyggeston Boys’ Grammar School), following his brothers Herbert and Henry. In 1892 he scored highly in the Cambridge Local Examinations, in freehand and model drawing, and as a result he studied briefly at the National Art Training School in South Kensington, before returning to Wyggeston in 1894 to take up a post as an Art Teacher.

Within eight years, he had taken up art as a full-time career, being recorded in 1899 as an artist working out of 4 Market Place, Leicester. Shortly after this, he moved to London, the 1901 census recording him at 4 Museum Street, Bloomsbury, working as a black and white artist, and sharing the accommodation with a boarder, 25 year-old Joseph Cotton, an art student.

Hickling’s first known published work was for Dean and Son’s The Fox and the Grapes and Other Fables, published in around 1892. In 1895 he contributed to Fun, and in 1897 he began providing illustrations for The Infants’ Magazine. A year later he illustrated his first girls’ school story, Geraldine Mockler’s The Girls of St. Bede’s, published by Jarrold & Sons. His next few books were all published for young children – titles such as Little Folk’s Surprises, Two Little Bears at School and We Three and Grandpa. At the same time he began contributing to The Royal Magazine, The Sphere, The Graphic, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, Cassell’s Magazine and The Sunday Strand, and to annuals such as Nister’s Holiday Annual.

In 1902 he was living in New Court, Carey Street, Holborn. Two years later, in Westminster in 1904, he married Agnes Amy Offord, born in Fulham, London on 30 September 1876, the daughter of Robert Offord, a photographer. They went on to have one child, John Charlton Hickling, born on 16 June 1906, when the Hicklings were living at 1 Holmes Road, Twickenham. At the time of the 1911 census, the family was living at “Shirley”, Rudolph Road, Bushey, Herts.

In the decade leading up to the outbreak of the First World War, Hickling began contributing to The London Magazine, The Strand Magazine, Black and White, The New Magazine, The Royal Magazine, The Red Magazine, Punch and Printers’ Pie. In 1910, he provided three black and white illustrations to accompany an Arthur Conan Doyle story, 'The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans', in the French magazine Je Sais Tout. (It had originally been published in The Strand Magazine in 1908. Illustrated by Arthur Twidle). In 1911 he began illustrating serials in The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph, and continued to do so until 1928. Other periodicals he worked for before and after the war included The Blue Magazine, Hutchinson’s Magazine, The Grand Magazine, The Strand, The Windsor Magazine, The Quiver, The Tatler, Our Own Magazine, The Boy’s Own Paper, The Girl’s Own Paper, The Girls’ Realm, Pearson’s Magazine, Little Folks, The Magpie and The Sketch.

He also illustrated a variety of books, including re-issues of novels by authors such as Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, W.M. Thackeray and Charles Kingsley. (The re-issues of Trollope’s The Three Clerks and Eliot’s Adam Bede both contained no fewer than 16 illustrations).

He seems to have done little artistic work during the war, instead moving to Coventry where he worked as a capstan operator for the engineering firm of Rotherham and Sons. When conscription was introduced (affecting men up to the age of 41) he was granted an exemption because of his work in manufacturing munitions.

In 1923 he began illustrating girls’ stories for Cassell & Co. – authors included Dorothea Moore, Elsie J. Oxenham, Angela Brazil, Mary Gervaise and Brenda Page. In the late 1930s he produced dustwrappers for a few books published by Ward, Lock & Co. He also provided illustrations for children’s annuals such as The British Girls’ Annual, Blackie’s Girls’ Annual, The Triumph Book for Girls, Blackie’s Children’s Annual and The Schoolgirl’s Annual.

By this time he had moved back to London, firstly to 35 West End Lane, West Hampstead (between 1918 and 1924), and then 3 Marlborough Studios, 12 Finchley Road, St, Marylebone. Between 1939 and 1944 he worked as a Camouflage Officer in the Home Office.

After the war he illustrated a handful of omnibus books such as Winning Through: Stories for Girls and My Favourite Story: Selected Stories for Girls, both published by the Thames Publishing Company. Most importantly, in 1949 he illustrated The Inquisitive Harvest Mouse and Tiptoes the Mischievous Kitten, the first two titles in a Ladybird series of animal stories written by Noel Barr. He went on to illustrate eight more, including the immensely popular The Wise Robin. In The Ladybird Story (British Library, 2014) Lorraine Johnson and Brian Alderson erroneously describe Hickling as appearing “only intermittently as a workaday draughtsman from his first essay in 1904”, but went on to praise his “ability to infuse a degree of character in the sundry pets, birds and country stock prefigured in the books’ titles...”

(Johnson and Alderson’s initial comment was not the first dismissive view of Hickling – in his very brief entry in Simon Houfe’s The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914 Hickling is described as “A very competent but unrecorded pen artist who worked for magazines…..He also illustrated a novel The Three Clerks, John Long, c. 1908.”)

By then he had moved to Channel View, Bannings Vale, Saltdean, Sussex, which is where he died on 10 June 1951, leaving an estate valued at £1,596 (£43,000 in today’s terms). His wife died two years later, on 5 January 1953, at the same address.

As an artist, Hickling worked in both black and white and colour, and had a particular penchant for portraying girls and young women. This is exemplified in his illustrations for girls’ school stories, and also in his work for periodicals such as The Tatler, for which he painted a number of what could be described as post-pre-Raphaelite pictures of demure young women. But he was equally as adept with other subjects, including fairy stories, pictures of playful young children, and domestic scenes.


Books illustrated by P. B. Hickling
The Fox and the Grapes and Other Fables, Dean & Son, 1892(?)
The Girls of St. Bede’s by Geraldine Mockler, Jarrold & Sons, 1898
Little Folk’s Surprises by Hope Myrtoun, Ernest Nister, 1899
Captain Swing: A Tale of the 1830 Riots by Harold Avery, T. Nelson & Sons, 1900
A Stands for Ass by W.R. Borrow, Dean & Son, 1900
Little Pierrot by Constance M. Lowe, C.M. Hammill etc., Dean & Son, 1900
The Seaside Story Book by George Manvill Fenn, L.T. Meade & others, Ernest Nister, 1900
Two Little Bears at School by J.D., S.W. Partridge & Co., 1900(?)
The Magic Mist, and Other Dartmoor Legends by Eva C. Rogers, Andrew Melrose, 1901
We Three and Grandpa: A Pictur Story Book for Little Ones by J.D., S.W Partridge & Co., 1902
The Three Clerks by Anthony Trollope, John Long, 1903 (re-issue)
Adam Bede by George Eliot, John Long, 1904 (re-issue)
The Little Heiress by Margaret Bruce Clarke, T. Nelson & Sons, 1904 
The History of Henry Esmond by William Makepeace Thackeray, John Long, 1904 (re-issue)
Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Stories, Henry Altemus (USA), 1905
Partners: A School Story by H.F. Gethen, T. Nelson & Sons, 1905 (re-issue)
Frank Oldfield, or Lost and Found by Theodore Percival Wilson, T. Nelson & Sons, 1906 (re-issue)
True to His Nickname by Harold Avery, T. Nelson & Sons, 1907
Veiled Hearts: A Romance of Modern Egypt by Rachel Willard, Religious Tract Society, 1908
Every Day Tales by L.L. Weedon, Ernest Nister, 1908
Life’s Contrats by John Foster Fraser, Cassell & Co., 1908
The Wizard’s Wand: A Tale of School Life for Boys and Girls by Harold Avery, T. Nelson Sons, 1909
The Love-Brokers by Albert Kinross, Cassell & Co., 1909
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Make Friends by Elsie J. Oxenham, T. Nelson & Sons, 1909
Some of Our Fellows: A School Story by T.S. Millington, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1909 (re-issue)
The Probationer by Amy Irving, S. W. Partridge, 1910
Helen Grant’s Schooldays by Amanda M. Douglas, Collins, 1910
The Strange Little Girl by Bella Sidney Woolf, Duckworth & Co., 1910
The Sands o’ Dee by Charles Kingsley, Collins, 1910(?) (re-issue)
Hope Glynne's Awakening by Jessie Goldsmith Cooper. London, S. W. Partridge, 1911
The Wrath of Man by Silas Hocking, Frederick Warne & Co., 1912
The Furrow in the Fill by Florence Bone, Religious Tract Society, 1912
The Life and Death of Jason: A Metrical Romance by William Morris, Collins, 1912 (re-issue)
The Mystery of Beechey Grange, or The Missing Host by H.C. Adams, Collins, 1912 (re-issue)
Hepsy Gipsy by L. T. Meade. London, Everett, 1912(?)
Playtime Funny Book, Ernest Nister, 1912(?)
Meddlesome Mattie by Agnes M. Miall. London, S. W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Mary-All-Alone by John Oxenham, Methuen & Co., 1913
Love Stories of Royal Girlhood by Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Captain Swing: A Tale of the 1830s Riots by Harold Avery, T. Nelson & Sons, 1914
Molly Angel's Adventures by Bessie Marchant, Blackie & Son, 1915
Girls Who Were Famous Queens by Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1915
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Collins, 1915(?)
All Change Here! Or Keep Cheerful by Charles F. Parsons, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1916
Bunty’s Book of Heroes by Herbert Hayens, Collins, 1917(?)
Tam of Tiffany’s by Dorothea Moore, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1918
Judy Sees it Through by Doris A. Pocock, Blackie & Son, 1919
The Claverings by Anthony Trollope, Collins, 1920(?) (re-issue)
Queen of the School by E.M. de Foubert, Cassell & Co., 1923
The Boys’ Book of Motors by William Gordon Aston, E. & F.N. Spon, 1923
Fen’s First Term by Dorothea Moore, Cassell & Co., 1924
The Testing of the Torment by Elsie J. Oxenham, Cassell & Co., 1925
The Girls of Dormitory Ten by Betty Laws, Cassell & Co., 1926
Queen of the Dormitory and Other Stories by Angela Brazil, Cassell & Co., 1926
Twenty-six Adventure Stories for Girls by various authors, “Every Girl’s Paper” Office, 1926(?)
The Guides at Calamity Hill by Nancy M. Hayes, Cassell & Co., 1927
Schoolgirl Rivals by Brenda Page, Cassell & Co., 1927
The Head Girl’s Secret by Doris Pocock, Cassell & Co., 1927
The Girl Who Wouldn't Make Friends by Elsie J. Oxenham, T. Nelson & Sons, 1927
Tiger's First Term by Mary Gervaise, Cassell & Co., 1928
The Castle School by Nancy M. Hayes, Cassell & Co., 1928
Schoolgirl Rose by Ethel Talbot, Cassell & Co., 1928
The Fifth Form Adventurers by E. E. Cowper, Cassell & Co., 1929
A Term on Trial by Mary Gervaise, Cassell & Co., 1929
The Girls of Stornham Central by Betty Laws, Cassell & Co., 1929
The Invincible Fifth by E. E. Cowper, Cassell & Co., 1930
The Star of Sr. Anne’s by Bertha Leonard, Cassell & Co., 1930
Dartmoor Legends by Eva C. Rogers, Pilgrim Press, 1930 (re-issue)
Joan and the Scholarship Girl by Brenda Page, Cassell & Co., 1931
Two in Form Four by Christine Chaundler, Collins, 1931
The Joker of Dormitory D by T. H. Scott, F. Warne & Co., 1932
As a Man Loves by Effie Adelaide Rowlands, Ward, Lock & Co., 1936 [dustwrapper]
The House of Life by Fay Inchfawn, Ward, Lock & Co., 1936 [dustwrapper]
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, Ward, Lock & Co., 1936 (re-issue)
Masked Danger by Ben Bolt, Ward, Lock & Co., 1937
The One Who Counted by Effie Adelaide Rowlands, Ward, Lock & Co., 1937 [dustwrapper]
The Top of the Tree by Effie A. Rowlands, Ward, Lock & Co., 1937 [dustwrapper]
"This Time Next Term" by Nancy Breary, Blackie & Son, 1945
Winning Through: Stories for Girls by various authors, Thames Publishing Co., 1947(?)
My Favourite Story: Selected Stories for Girls, Thames Publishing Co., 1948
Sweet Seventeen by various authors, Thames Publishing Co., 1948
Best of All by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1949
Sea Rangers at Sloo by Geoffrey Prout, Blackie & Son, 1949
From a Surgeon's Diary by Clifford Ashdown, Ferret Fantasy, 1975 (stories originally published in Cassell’s Magazine)

Ladybird Books, series 497  -  written by Noel Barr and published by Wills & Hepworth:
The Inquisitive Harvest Mouse, 1949
Tiptoes the Mischievous Kitten, 1949
The Wise Robin, 1950
The Discontented Pony, 1951
The Conceited Lamb, 1951
Beaky the Greedy Duck, 1951
Mick the Disobedient Puppy, 1952
Ned the Lonely Donkey, 1952
Cocky the Lazy Rooster, 1953
The Sleepy Water Vole, 1955

Friday, January 19, 2018

Comic Cuts - 19 January 2017

I think I'm on track to have the next volume of Forgotten Authors out in early February. Now that I have the text, there are still a lot of stages to go through before I can hold a physical book in my hand.

Not the least of these is reading through all of the essays and doing bits of rewriting, usually just to weed out some of the klutzy writing that might result from revising a paragraph two or three times as you write, pulling it apart and putting it back together again as you go along, finding better places for the information that paragraph contained, or finding that you need to add something that will pay off later in the essay.

I'm four essays in on that process, but I like to break up the proofing process as it's so easy to see what you meant to write rather than what's actually on the page. So the proofing is done in short, intense bursts and I'll then take a bit of time away to work on something else. So I've been writing a couple of pieces that will find their way into the next volume – brand new pieces, as I'm using the book as an excuse to write up some authors I've never before got around to – taking some photos for the next cover and, yes, I finally got around to doing my tax returns on Wednesday.

Once the proofing is done and I've written the introduction and contents page and resized the pages, I can then create a first draft PDF, from which I compile the index. And once that's done I have to produce two different versions of the complete set of texts, one with endnotes for the e-book version and one with footnotes for the printed book. If it's anything like the last time I did this, that will take a few days as I have to go  through every note of the e-book to make sure they all link to and from the text properly. I'm hoping that I can remember how I did it last time because it may have taken some while to do, it worked... and that's how I've muddled through using computers for nearly thirty years.

So we're not quite there yet. But getting there.

No falls or spills this week, but I'm reminded constantly that one of the reasons the paths are so broken up around here is that they're used as car parks by everyone with too many cars for their driveway. The main road into town is full of holes because only one side of the road carries all the traffic; the other side has cars parked along it 24 hours a day.

And then there are the people who cannot follow the most simple of instructions. This was rammed home a couple of times this week when we were on our morning walk last Friday and noticed a car on the main road breaking hard to avoid hitting a bloke who had parked his car on the path in order to jaywalk across the road to the shop. So as well as being parked across the entranceway to the car wash behind the bus stop (so its a busy bit of path), he couldn't be arsed to walk the four yards up the road that would take him to the zebra crossing. It's not the first time it's happened to the same guy with the same result.

Monday afternoon, we spotted someone else parked right up against the No Parking sign outside the new doctor's surgery. Some people will rebel against anything and everything. It reminded me of what happened last July when the council had a major programme of redoing the road surfaces. Huge notices were put up to warn people not to park on the road, but some idiots won't be told, resulting in huge patches of untreated road where the workmen had to work around parked cars.

Today's random scans are on the subject of roads...


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases for 17 January 2018.

There’s never been a more mega time for Judge Dredd Megazine subscribers – they’ll now get a free cover print with every issue!
    Readers who subscribe to 2000 AD’s monthly sister magazine, the Judge Dredd Megazine, will now automatically receive a free print of each month’s cover, shorn of logo and coverlines, as well as the regular 64-page mini-reprint trade.
    Heading out to subscribers this weekend and hitting shelves on 17th January, Judge Dredd Megazine #392 will be bagged with a free print of Jake Lynch's stunning cover art to mark the start of the new DREDD movie tie-in story, The Dead World.
    This new story by Arthur Wyatt, Alex De Campi (script), Henry Flint (art), Chris Blythe (colours), and Annie Parkhouse (letters) features the first appearance of Judge Death and the Dark Judges in the world created by Alex Garland in the cult hit 2012 film.
    Editions with prints are ONLY available to readers who subscribe through the 2000 AD website at – as well as a free print and bagged trade every month, they’ll also receive issues days before they’re available in stores!
    2000 AD editor Matt Smith said: ‘We’re making it better value than ever to subscribe to the Galaxy’s Greatest Comics, with added gifts and incentives for our loyal army of Squaxx dek Thargo. If you’re considering taking out a combi subscription to both 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, now’s the perfect time to jump on board the Thrill-train – you won't regret it!’
    Due to hit shelves on 17th January, Megazine #392 will also feature three new stories starting: Judge Dredd: Krong Island by Arthur Wyatt and Jake Lynch, featuring the return of ‘monkey Judge’ Harry Heston; Cursed Earth Koburn: The Law of the Cursed Earth by Rory McConville and Carlos Ezquerra. Plus there’s fan favourite space Western Lawless and vampire dandy exorcist Devlin Waugh, as well as an interview with Fighting American, Accident Man and Blood of Satanus artist Duke Mighten.
    This month’s Megazine will also include a mini-trade collecting the first series of sci-fi body horror series "Outlier" by T.C. Eglington and Karl Richardson, as well as the concluding chapter to black and white World War II classic "Wagner’s Walk" from Tornado.

Judge Dredd Megazine #392
Ever since the Judge Dredd Megazine began its series extrapolating on the world of the DREDD movie starring Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby, fans have speculated when or even if the Dark Judges would make an appearance in the more 'grim 'n' gritty' world of Alex Garland's action opus. Well they can wonder no longer - series writer Arthur Wyatt and co-writer Alex De Campi (Mayday, Wonder Woman) have teamed up with fan favourite artist Henry Flint to bring Judge Death himself to the strip - and it promises to be one hell of a swansong for the series!

Cover: Jake Lynch
JUDGE DREDD: KRONG ISLAND by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
LAWLESS: BREAKING BADROCK by Dan Abnett (w) Phil Winslade (a) Ellie DeVille (l)
DEVLIN WAUGH: BLOOD DEBT by Rory McConville (w) Mike Dowling (a) Simon Bowland (l)
CURSED EARTH KOBURN by Rory McConville (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)
DREDD: THE DEAD WORLD by Arthur Wyatt & Alex De Campi (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse(l)
Features: Duke Mighten interview, Arthur Ranson interview,
Bagged reprint: Outlier by TC Eglington (w) Karl Richardson (a) Annie Parkhouse (l) with conclusion to Wagner's Walk by RE Wright (w) Mike White (a)

2000AD Prog 2064
Cover: Rufus Dayglo/Dom Regan
JUDGE DREDD: ECHOES by Michael Carroll (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)
ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Ernest Prater

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Ernest Prater was a both a respected war artist and a prolific illustrator of children’s books in a career that lasted for over 50 years.

He was born on 11 March 1864 and baptized exactly two years later at St. Mary’s Church, Islington. He was the sixth of nine children of Joseph Prater, a carpenter (born in Crantock, Cornwall, in 1821) and his wife Jane Harriet, née Larkins. Their other children were William (born in 1851), Francis (1853), Harry (1855), Jane (1857), Joseph (1861), Thomas (1866), Charles (1868), and John (1871). The family lived in Coleman Street, Islington, for many years, from around 1853 to the 1870s, with all the children baptized at the same church.

By the time of the 1891 census, the family had moved to 6 Woodville Road, Highbury, with William, Francis and Joseph working as wood engravers and carpenters, and Ernest working as a publisher’s clerk. However, in the late 1880s Ernest enrolled at the Highbury Institute and School of Art, and in the 1887 Electoral Register was recorded as renting a furnished bedroom at 6 Woodville Road from his father.

He was still at the Highbury Institute in 1890, when his career as an artist appears to have started. In that year, he provided illustrations for two books – Nobody’s Neighbours by L.T. Meade, and The Trespasser by Gilbert Parker, published by Collins and C. Arthur Pearson respectively. Three years later, he began contributing to The Idler, and, more importantly, The Graphic, for whom he worked until the end of the First World War. Other periodicals to which he contributed during the 1890s were The St. James’s Budget, Black and White, Hearth and Home, The Golden Penny, Chums, Black and White, The Ludgate, The Badminton Magazine, The Windsor Magazine, The Lady’s Realm, Pearson’s Magazine and Cassell’s Magazine. At the same time, he was illustrating a variety of children’s books, mainly adventure and family/domestic stories.

In the mid-1890s he began illustrating children’s book for several more publishers, in particular S.W. Partridge & Co., The Religious Tract Society and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

At the time of the 1891 census he was recorded at the family home at 67 Albion Road, Hornsey (although he was listed in that year¹s electoral register at 6 Woodville Road). This was his address when he exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy, A Dash from a Scrimmage, in 1897. He then moved to the Memorial Hall Buildings, Farringdon Street, from where he exhibited three more paintings in 1898, 1899 and 1904. This was also his given address when, on 20 January 1898, at St. Sepulchre’s Church, Holborn, he married Florence Alice Norris. (Her background is unclear – her father’s details are not given on the marriage register, although as far as can be ascertained she was born in Edmonton, Middlesex, in 1876, her parents ostensibly being Henry Norris, a merchant, and his wife Emily. However, she may have been illegitimate.)

The following year, Clement Shorter, a former editor of The Illustrated London News and the founder of The Sketch, decided to launch The Sphere, an illustrated newspaper, in direct competition to The Graphic (founded in 1869). He appointed Prater (who had apparently served with the 3rd Middlesex Artillery, a volunteer force, for a while) as a war artist to cover the Boer War. He left for Capetown on 21 October 1899, and subsequently sent back sketches of the conflict which were the re-drawn for publication by artists such as Joseph Finnemore, Alfred Pearse and Sidney Paget, although occasionally the paper reproduced his original sketches. He also sent back photographs. He spent a month in the late summer of 1900 in hospital with enteric fever.

Pat Hodgson, in The War Illustrators (Osprey Publishing, 1977) observed that “It is difficult to determine his skill as an artist as all his Boer War sketches were redrawn, although The Sphere did say that his pictures were of ‘exceptional merit and would delight the eye of the most exigent master of an art class by their conscientious draughtsmanship.’”

After returning to England in November 1900 Prater continued working for The Sphere, illustrating sporting subjects, royalty, the military, major news stories etc., and he also began contributing to other periodicals, including The Art Journal, Sporting Pictures (launched by Cassell & Co. in 1902), The Wide World Magazine, The Illustrated London News, The Royal Magazine, Pall Mall Magazine, The Strand Magazine, The Red Magazine, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, The Boy’s Own Paper, The Captain, The Girl’s Own Paper, Sunday at Home, Outward Bound, The Yellow Magazine, The Scout, The Children’s Newspaper and The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph.

He also continued illustrating children’s books, specializing in boys’ adventure, historical, war and school stories. Amongst the authors whose books he illustrated were G. A. Henty, Tom Bevan, Frank H. Shaw, Harold Avery, Gunby Hadath, Percy F. Westerman and F. S. Brereton. He also contributed to various children’s annuals, such as The Children’s Treasury of Pictures and Stories, Everyland for Boys and Girls, Collins Boy Scouts Annual, The Boys’ Budget, The Big Budget for Boys, The Golden Budget for Boys and Blackie’s Boys’ Annual.

He had been an active sportsman, his entry in Who’s Who in Art in 1929 stating that his recreations included “vigorous sports.” This was reflected in many of his paintings and illustrations, which included portrayals of football, rugby, cricket, American football and lacrosse.

Shortly after his marriage he and his wife had moved to Hastings, lodging with John Barnes and his family at Cliffside Villa, George Street. In 1901 he commissioned designs for a house to be built on The Leas in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, although he did not move there until sometime after 1908, when he was recorded living at 28 Whitefriars Crescent, Westcliff. He was, however, recorded as living at “Newquay”, The Leas, Westcliff in the 1911 census.

In the meantime the Praters had had five children: Gladys Alma (born in Westcliff in 1899), Mary Lillian (born in Edmonton, Middlesex, in 1902), Maisie Winifred (born in Barnet, Middlesex, in 1904), Ruby Albina (born in Westcliff in 1907), and Raleigh Brandon (born in Westcliff in 1909).

During the First World War Prater worked for The Graphic, producing black and white illustrations from sketches sent back to England by the paper’s war artists. At the same time, he continued working as an illustrator of children’s books.

He remained at Westcliff until 1923, when he moved to “Crantock”, Dollis Avenue, Church End, Finchley, where he and his wife remained for the rest of their lives. Florence died on 10 June 1949, and Ernest died a year later, on 12 June 1950. He left an estate valued at £8,041 (around £233,000 in today’s terms).

Of his brothers, William became an artist, moving to Cornwall where he specialized in seascapes and landscapes; Francis made a career as a joiner/carpenter; Harry made a career as a wood engraver; Joseph became an artist and engraver; Thomas became a carpet salesman; and Charles was working as a clerk in 1901, after which he seems to disappear from online genealogy records.


Books Illustrated by Ernest Prater
Nobody’s Neighbours by L.T. Meade, Collins, 1890
The Trespasser by Gilbert Parker, C. Arthur Pearson, 1890
Comrades Three: A Story of the Canadian Prairies by Argyll Saxby, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1892
Bush Luck: An Australian Story by W.H. Timperly, Religious Tract Society, 1892
Lettie Lawson’s Legacy and Other Stories by Emma Marshall, James Nisbet & Co., 1894
A Heart of Gold by Cecilia Selby Lowndes, S.P.C.K., 1894
The Heart of Man by Silas Hocking, F. Warne & Co., 1895
The Mystery of Hope Lodge by Henrietta S. Streatield, S.P.C.K., 1897
Seaton Court by Maud Carew, S.P.C.K., 1897
The Marie Corelli Birthday Book, Hutchinson & Co., 1897
Nelson and His Times by Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1898
Otterburn Chase by C.N. Carvalho, S.P.C.K., 1898
The Postwoman by Emily Pearson Finnemore, S.P.C.K., 1898
Rob and I, or “By Courage and Faith” by C.A. Mercer, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1898
Janie Fletcher by F.E. Reade, S.P.C.K., 1898
Prince Charlie of the Canongate by S. Horton, W.A. Hammond, 1898(?)
Jack Curzon by Archibald Clavering, George Routledge & Sons, 1899
The Stranding of the “White Rose”: A Story of Adventure by Charles Dudley Lampen, S.P.C.K., 1899
Vanity and Vexation by A.E.D., S.P.C.K., 1899
Mirango the Man-eater: A Tale of Central Africa by C. Dudley Lampen, S.P.C.K., 1899
The Children’s Plan, and What Came of It by Catherine Mary Macroley, S.P.C.K., 1899
The Heir of Hascombe Hall by Evelyn Everett Green, T. Nelson & Sons, 1899
The Lost Heir by G.A. Henty, James Bowden, 1900
The Young Nor’-Wester by J. Macdonald Oxley, Religious Tract Society, 1900
The Lost Continent by Cutliffe Hyne, Hutchinson & Co., 1900
Little Maid Marigold by Eleanora H. Stooke, Religious Tract Society, 1902
Max Victor’s Schooldays by S.S. Pugh, Religious Tract Society, 1903(?) (re-issue)
The Castle of the White Flag: A Tale of the Franco-German War by Evelyn Everett Green, T. Nelson & Sons, 1904
The Official History of the Russian-Japanese War by J. Martin Miller, Bible House (Chicago), 1904 (with other artists)
The Book of Football (in 12 parts), 1905
Our Silver Collection and Other Stories by Wm. J. Forster, Robert Culley, 1905
The Mysterious City by Bessie Marchant, S.P.C.K., 1905
The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer by Charles Lever, Collins, 1905(?) (re-issue)
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss (trans. by W.H.G. Kingston), Ernest Nister 1905 (re-issue)
Prisoners: Fast Bound in Misery and Iron by Mary Cholmondeley, Hutchinson & Co., 1906
The Frozen Venus by Harry Longley Lander, Cassell & Co., 1907
The Quests of Paul Beck by M. McDonnell Bodkin, T. Fisher Unwin, 1908
Peggy Spry by H. Marshall Ward, Religious Tract Society, 1908
Heroes of Pioneering by Edgar Sanderson, Seeley & Co., 1908 (with other artists)
The Romance of Savage Life by G.F. Scott Elliot, Seeley & Co., 1908 (with other artists)
Blue of the Sea by L.T. Meade, James Nisbet & Co., 1909
Heroes of Modern Crusades by Edward Gilliat, Seeley & Co., 1909 (with other artists)
He, She and It by Kate Mellersh, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Loyal Hearts and True by Florence Willmot, Religious Tract Society, 1910 (re-issued as Concerning May, Marjorie and Others, date not known)
A Collegian in Khaki by William Johnston, Religious Tract Society, 1910
The Secret Men by Tom Bevan, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1910
Put Yourself in His Place by Charles Reade, Collins, 1910(?)
The Crew of the Dolphin by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society, 1910(?) (re-issue)
The Champion of the School by Frank. H. Shaw, Cassell & Co., 1911
Not Cricket! A School Story by Harold Avery, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1911
Out With the Buccaneers, or The Treasure of the Snake by Tom Bevan, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1911 (re-issue)
The Castaways of Disappointment Island by H. Escott Inman, S.W Partridge & Co., 1911
Jack Safford: A Tale of the East Coast by William Webster, Religious Tract Society, 1911
Young Beck: A Chip off the Old Block by M. McDonnell Bodkin, T. Fisher Unwin, 1911
Rue Esterby: A Story of Failure and Victory by Amy Whipple, Religious Tract Society, 1911
The Call of Honour by Argyll Saxby, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
Head of the School by Harold Avery, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
Livingstone, The Pathfinder by Basil Mathews, Oxford University Press, 1912
A Fair Prisoner: A Story of the Great Year by Morice Gerard, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
Kitty and Kit by Florence S. Willmot, Religious Tract Society, 1912
Paying the Price: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
In the Grip of the Wild Wa by G.E. Mitton, A. & C. Black, 1913
The Scouts of Seal Island by Percy F. Westerman, A. & C. Black, 1913
King of Ranleigh: A School Story by F.S. Brereton, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Smugglers’ Keep by Silas K. Hocking, F. Warne & Co., 1913
Jack Rollock’s Adventures, or Skeleton Reef by Hugh St. Leger, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Greatheart of Papua by W.P. Nairne, Oxford University Press, 1913
The Child’s Livingstone by Mary Entwistle, Oxford University Press, 1913
The Salvage of a Sailor by Frank Thomas Bullen, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Under Wolfe’s Flag, or The Fight for the Canadas by Rowland Walker, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
With Bandit and Turk by Tom Bevan, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Eric: A Golden Heart by Cecilia Selby Lowndes, S.P.C.K., 1913
The Children of the Crag by Amy Whipple, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
The Sea Scouts of the “Petrel” by Percy F. Westerman, A. & C. Black, 1914
Stories of Red Indian Adventure by H.W.G. Hyrst, Seeley, Service & Co., 1914
The Last of His Line: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1914
Never Say Die: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1914
A Book of Brave Women by Oliver Hope, Religious Tract Society, 1914
Building The Empire: A Story of the North-west Frontier by Percy F. Westerman, Jarrold & Sons, 1914
John Williams the Shipbuilder by Basil Mathews, Oxford University Press, 1915
Ernest Hepburn, or Revenge and Forgiveness by H.C. Adams, Religious Tract Society, 1915(?) (re-issue)
The Splendid Quest: Stories of the Knights on the Pilgrims’ Way by Basil Mathews, Jarrold & Sons, 1916 (re-issue)
Paul the Dauntless, the Course of a Great Adventure by Basil Mathews, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1916
The Secret Battleplane by Percy F. Westerman, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1916
Like Unto Leaven, or Master Desbrowe of Stonecliffe by William G. Leadbetter, W.A. Hammond, 1916
Mackay of the Great Lake by C.E. Padwick, Oxford University Press, 1917
Wheat and Chaff by Sam Horton, W.A. Hammond, 1917
A Year of Adventure by A.O. Charles, Religious Tract Society, 1917
Wilmshurst of the Frontier Force by Percy F. Westerman, S.W. Partridge & Vo., 1918
Roses and Thistles by Samuel Horton, W.A. Hammond, 1918
Palm-nut Valley by Kathleen M. Bell, Carey Press, 1919
The White Knights by W.E. Cule, Carey Press, 1919
Naida the Tenderfoot: A Story of Home and School by A.M. Irvine, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1919
Deville McKeene: The Exploits of the Mystery Airman by Rowland Walker, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1919
Billy the Kid by John W. Poe, E.A. Brininstool, 1919
The Gilroy Family by Constance M. Spender, S.P.C.K., 1919
The Argonauts of Faith: The Adventures of the Mayflower Pilgrims by Basil Mathews, Hodder & Stoughton, 1920
Uncle Michael’s Story: A Tale of the River Amazon by Gertrude Hollis, S.P.C.K., 1920
Peter Playne by Edward Seaman, Carey Press, 1920
The Talisman of Sundu by Kathleen M. Bell, Carey Press, 1921
Westcote Towers by M.C. Barnard, Sheldon Press, 1922
Heroes of the Chitral Siege by Alice F. Jackson, Sheldon Press, 1923
The Race of Heroes by Basil Joseph Mathews, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1924
The Haunted House at Huxtable by Ernest Scrivener, Carey Press, 1924
Wilfred Grenfell The Master Mariner: A Life of Adventure on Sea and Ice by Basil Mathews, S.W. Partridge, 1924
Missionary Heroines in India by E.C. Dawson, Seeley, Service & Co., 1924 (with other artists)
Schooldays at Highfield House by A.N. Malan, Religious Tract Society, 1924 (re-issue)   
Tales from Eastern Wonderlands by Oliver Brown, Carey Press, 1925
The Treasure of the Red Peak: A Tale of the Corderilla by Frederick Bough, Sheldon Press, 1925
What Happened to Eric by Ernest Scrivener, Carey Press, 1926
The Mystery Scout by Edward Le Breton Martin, Sheldon Press, 1927
By Copse, Moor and Jungle: A Tale of Devon and Central Africa by E.D. Sedding, S.P.C.K., 1927
A Chain of Gold by Mary Entwistle, Carey Press, 1927
Star Maiden: A Tale of Southern India by Eleanor Pegg, Sheldon Press, 1927
The Two Shipmates by W.H.G. Kingston, Sheldon Press, 1927 (re-issue)
Adventures of Marshall Vavasour, Midshipman by S. Whitchurch Sadler, Sheldon Press, 1928(?) (re-issue)
The Secret of the South Turret by Kathleen M. Bell, Carey Press, 1929
Owen Hartley, or Ups and Downs: A Tale of the Land and Sea by W./H.G. Kingston, Sheldon Press, 1929 (re-issue)
Ned Garth Made Prisoner in Africa: A Tale of the Slave Trade by W.H.G. Kingston, Sheldon Press, 1929 (re-issue)
The Council of Kandy by Muriel Clark, Carey Press, 1930
The Parliament Man: A Story of Greyhound Court and Other Places by W.E. Cule, Carey Press, 1931
The Watchers of Willowgreen by Kathleen M. Bell, Carey Press, 1931
The Everyland Story Book by Oliver Brown (ed.), Carey Press, 1931
With Drake to Cadiz: A Story of the Inquisition by Morice Gerard, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1933
The Messenger of the Black Prince by T.A.H. Mahwhinney, George Harrap & Co., 1934
King Arthur’s Island by Barbara Bingham Wilson, Carey Press, 1934
There Go the Ships by Basil Mathews, A. & C. Black, 1935
The Secret of the Silver Bottle by Caleb Hawker, Blackie & Son, 1936
Under Fire in Spain by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Co., 1937
Schoolboy Stories by various authors, Blackie 7 Son, 1939 (with other artists)
The Secret Six: A Tale for Boys by S.C. George, Blackie & Son, 1940
Blue Peter: A Romance of the Early Years of William Carey by J. Roland Evans, Oliphants Ltd., 1942
The Bells of Moulton by W.E. Cule, Carey Press, 1942
The Garden of Statues by J. Roland Evans, Kingsgate Press, 1944

Friday, January 12, 2018

Comic Cuts - 12 January 2018

After a month where I've had little to show for all the work I have been putting in on the new book, I can say that I'm at last nearly there. I started on the last of the big essays before Christmas, and finally had a completed first draft on Monday. I took a day off of Tuesday to write a related piece which kept me up beyond midnight to complete. Then back to the other piece to start rewriting on Wednesday.

There are a couple of sections that have caused me no end of trouble, trying to untangle various cases of fraud that were perpetuated again and by members of the Heming family, out of which grew quite a writing dynasty. I'll be covering them in volume three, hopefully. Mind you, these plans of mine can often change at the last minute.

I'm still doing a second draft of the lead essay, but it brings volume two of Forgotten Authors to over 64,000 words. I may juggle the contents to add another short piece as I'm thinking of leaving Alfred Barrett (another piece I started before Christmas) for volume three as it will involve some further research. The current line-up for volume two is: Bracebridge Hemyng, Philip Richards, Frank Barrett, Ernest Protheroe (and his son, Cyril), Charles Granville, Louise Heilgers, C. E. Vulliamy, Evelyn Winch, Frederick Foden and David Roberts. Three of the essays run to over 10,000 words and the Hemyng is likely to top 20,000 words by the time I've finished.

That I'll hopefully add to the totalizer next week when I reach the three-fifths mark of my Fifty Forgotten Authors.  If I had any sense I'd start writing very short articles from hereon to get the book finished as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I don't have any sense, and there are a couple of pieces I desperately want to write that have been bubbling along for years. I also want to attack a couple of old pieces that I can probably add significantly to thanks to the increasing availability of family history websites and old newspaper archives.

I haven't much to add. I could tell you that I fell arse over elbow on Wednesday evening as we walked down the road in the pitch black and rain. One of the roads that will take you down to the quay—on which we're the corner house—was recently resurfaced, but the pavements were for the most part ignored. There's a particular stretch of about forty feet which is crumbling away and full of treacherous gaps. One of which I managed to find.

With nothing supporting my foot, my ankle twisted and I went sprawling onto my hands and knees in a manner that was undignified rather than dangerous. The result was a scratched knee, a scraped hand, a wet, muddy trouser leg and some cussing that I won't repeat here. It was too dark to identify the vicious hole that attacked me.

To celebrate my own loss of dignity, here are some random cover scans.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Commando issues 5087-5090

Brand new Commando issues out today! Buckle up and get ready for evading raiders in the Kenyan bush, bickering air-duo bail outs, kamikaze conjurors in the Himalayas and grizzled military detectives tracking down serial killers in the ruined streets of post-war Berlin…

5087: Ambush in Kenya

    The years following the end of World War Two were not as peaceful as you might think. Barely a decade later, Britain had entered another conflict in the blazing heat of the Kenyan grasslands. Wounded, dehydrated, and separated from their commanding officer, they turned to private Alec Murray to lead them and the oppressed local villagers to safety, fleeing not the Mau Mau rebels, but rifle and machete wielding raiders!
    Iain McLaughlin’s thrilling cat-and-mouse story highlights an often overlooked military conflict and Scotland’s role in it, offering an exciting new setting for Commando, which Rezzonico deftly convey through his artwork, focusing on the changing buffet of terrains that Kenya has to offer. Traversing barren grassland and rocky outcrops, how will our Black Watch team ever make it?

Story: Iain McLaughlin
Art: Rezzonico
Cover: Ian Kennedy

5088: Jonah in the Crew
Being a pilot was tough enough, steering through the skies and keeping a cool head while Luftwaffe fighters set their sights on you – but for Jonah Kingston, being a navigator was worse. Flying in a Boston bomber thousands of feet above France, with enemy fighters pelting them with machine gun fire, Jonah’s calculations had to be exact – and they were.  But when the pilots ignored Jonah, that’s when things went wrong, with very deadly consequences…
    With half a dozen types of aircraft filling the pages of R. A. Montague’s story, you can tell this issue was a real treat for lovers of aviation, interior artist, Mira, and cover artist Sanfeliz, as chunks of debris fly right off the cover from the Boston’s torn wing – setting the threatening tone right from the get go!

Story: R. A. Montague
Art: Mira
Cover: Sanfeliz
Originally Commando No. 420 (August 1969). Reprinted No. 1187 (January 1978)

5089: Trouble in Tibet
Imagine if someone had the power to create a storm: a kamikaze or ‘divine wind’. Now imagine the Germans had that power and were wanting to put it to use June 1944…
    The Germans didn’t have that power – yet. But that wasn’t going to stop them from trying. Legend had it that a hermit monk, living on the icy slopes of the Himalayan Mountains could conjure such winds, and now the Germans were on a mission to find him… but not if the British led team of Gurkhas could beat them to it!
    George Low’s charming pairing of the eccentric British Lieutenant and reluctant Gurkha Havildar provide the perfect heroes for this action-packed adventure. With artwork by Manuel Benet and a climax set against treacherous avalanches and rockslides amidst thunder, lightning and blinding blizzards – this is one Commando that certainly packs a punch.

Story: George Low
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet

5090: Murder in Berlin
A follow up to the much loved ‘Killer Commando’, the war may be over, but Chief Inspector Ernie Hallows is back! This time he’s been sent to Berlin to tackle a series of murders in a case that becomes more and more familiar as the body count rises… But even with a homicidal maniac on the loose, post-war Berlin offer its own problems. As tensions rise among his men and the Germans aiding them, Ernie’s new case throws him deeper and deeper into the ruined streets of Germany’s capital.
    With the returning triad of contributors, Mike Knowles once again plays homage to the hard-boiled Noir detectives of the past, with lines like “I could tell you where [to put it]… but it wouldn’t be polite”.  However, this time, Rigby’s interiors are brighter and more detailed, with the action happening in broad daylight instead of during the black out Blitz, proving the light can be just as dangerous as the dark…

Story: Mike Knowles
Art: C. T. Rigby
Cover: Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 2695 (September 1993)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Rebellion Releases (2000AD)

Rebellion releases  10-11 January 2018.

2000AD Prog 2063
Cover: Neil Roberts
JUDGE DREDD: ECHOES by Michael Carroll (w) Colin MacNeil (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
ABC WARRIORS: FALLOUT by Pat Mills (w) Clint Langley (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
BRASS SUN: ENGINE SUMMER by Ian Edginton (w) INJ Culbard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
SAVAGE: THE THOUSAND YEAR STARE by Pat Mills (w) Patrick Goddard (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
BAD COMPANY: TERRORISTS by Peter Milligan (w) Rufus Dayglo (a) Dom Regan (c) Simon Bowland (l)

Grey Area by Dan Abnett, Karl Richardson, Lee Carter and Patrick Goddard.
Rebellion 978-1781-08602-5, 11 January 2018, 178pp, £16.99 / $19.99. Available via Amazon.
North America, 2045. The Global Exo Segregation Zone (aka the "Grey Area") is a huge holding area in Arizona housing all manner of aliens hoping to visit earth: a melting pot for alien disputes, crime and inter-species misunderstandings! The only thing standing in the way of chaos is the Exo Transfer Control squads: heavily-armed immigration cops that keep the peace and make sure everyone has their papers in order. From contemptuous extra-terrestrial ambassadors with diplomatic immunity, to right-wing xenophobic militants and alien freeloaders disguised as luggage: new recruit Jana Birdy discovers that life in the E.T.C. might be the most interesting job on Earth - and the most dangerous!

Sunday, January 07, 2018

J. Ayton Symington

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

J. Ayton Symington is something of an enigma. He was a fairly prolific, and proficient, illustrator of books, in particular children’s historical and adventure stories, between 1885 and 1914, yet his early life, at least as far as online genealogy records go, is a complete mystery. He does not appear in the census records until 1891, when he was 34 years old, and other details of his genealogy are rather sketchy.

All that can be gleaned from the census records from 1891 onwards was that he was born in Leeds in around 1856, and christened James Ayton Symington. In the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census records his wife is recorded as Kate – according to her entry in the 1939 Register, she was born in Leeds on 18 January 1859. She was presumably Catherine Tindall, who married a James Symington at the parish church, Doncaster on 19 May 1889. They had one child, Arthur Ayton Symington, born in Leeds on 30 January 1898 (according to the 1939 Register), but there is otherwise no online record of his birth.

Symington appears to have first come to the public’s attention in January 1887, when The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer reviewed Rambles by Yorkshire Rivers, written by George Radford and published by the Leeds publisher Richard Jackson: “… it is Mr Radford’s happiness to have his own very interesting letter-press illustrated by a dozen full-page etchings, drawn especially for the work by a Yorkshire etcher, Mr J. A. Symington.”

Symington appears to have remained working in Leeds, contributing to more books issued by Richard Jackson, until late 1890/early 1891 – in the 1891 census he was recorded at 71 Chelverton Road, Putney, south London, with his wife Kate, and described as an “Artist Magazine Illustrator.” He was also at this time contributing to various periodicals, including The Universal Review, Atalanta, The Art Journal, The Windsor Magazine, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, Chums, Young England and The Silver Link (the last two being published by the Sunday School Union).

In 1895 he contributed a series of pencil drawings to The Wonderful Wapentake, a collection of short stories – sketches of rural Yorkshire life – written by J. S. Fletcher and which had originally appeared in The Leeds Mercury and then the London newspaper The Star. In the same year he also contributed illustrations to The Shadow on the Blind, a collection of ghost stories by Mrs Alfred Baldwin, and several other books, including a re-issue of Michael Scott’s Tom Cringle’s Log. He was later in some demand as an illustrator of re-issues, providing illustrations for novels by Frederick Marryat, Charles Reade, Charles Kingsley, and, most notably, Honoré de Balzac. He was one of numerous artists who illustrated an edition of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, published by George Routledge in 1903. Perhaps one of his best-known collaborations was with H. G. Wells, for whom he provided 40 black and white illustrations for The Wheels of Chance: A Holiday Adventure (later sub-titled A Bicycling Idyll) in 1896. This was a comic novel about a cycling holiday, with faint echoes of Three Men in a Boat.

Apart from a handful of topographical books (such as books on Norfolk, Hampshire, Surrey, Edinburgh and British cathedrals) his main work was in illustrating children’s historical and adventure stories. He was used by several publishers, including Andrew Melrose, J. M. Dent & Co., W.& R. Chambers, S. W. Partridge, George Routledge and Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. Amongst the authors whose books he illustrated were Evelyn Everett Green, David Ker, Robert Leighton, Frederick Whishaw, J. S. Fletcher and William Murray Graydon. His most lasting legacy was his set of illustrations for a re-issue of Robinson Crusoe in 1905, published by J. M. Dent & Co. in 1905. This contained 8 colour plates and numerous black and white illustrations, which were subsequently used in further re-issues up to the 1970s.

By 1901, after apparently returning to Leeds where his son was born in around 1898, he was living at 1 West Park Gardens, Kew. He remained there until around 1915, when he moved to Old Church Lane, Stanmore, in north-west London. His book work then appears to have dried out completely, as no books with his illustrations have been traced after 1914. He may have been involved in some way in World War I, although he was too old for active service – it is, however, known that his son served with the Royal Field Artillery. He later became a civil engineer.

In the meantime, Symington had done some work for a handful of story papers – for example in 1907 he began illustrating Young Folks Tales, published by James Henderson. He also contributed to the Amalgamated Press’s boys’ story paper Cheer Boys Cheer throughout 1913, in particular illustrating a serialization of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow. After the war, he contributed to one issue of The Boy’s Own Paper in 1921, but nothing further by him has been traced.

In the early 1920s Symington and his wife moved to Hillyridge, Uxbridge Road, Harrow Weald, and in 1927 they moved again, to Dale Cottage, Great Bookham, Surrey. They remained there until 1937, when they moved to Yewby, Yew Tree Gardens, Woodcote Side, Epsom, Surrey. They were living there when Symington died, at Epsom and Ewell General Hospital, on 6 February 1939, leaving an estate valued at just £211. He was buried in Lawnswood Cemetery, Leeds, four days later.  His wife remained in Surrey, being recorded in the 1939 Register as a housekeeper at 119 Sunny Bank, Epsom. She subsequently returned to Leeds, where she died in 1944. Their son died in Surrey in 1955.


Books illustrated by J. Ayton Symington
Rambles by Yorkshire Rivers by George Radford, Richard Jackson, 1885
Some Historic Mansions of Yorkshire and their Associations by William Wheater, Richard Jackson, 1888
Yorkshire by the Sea by George Radford, Richard Jackson, 1891
The Poetical Works of Wordsworth by William Wordsworth, Ramage & Co., 1891(?)
Sedbergh, Garsdale and Dent: Peeps at the Past History and Present Condition of Some Picturesque Yorskhire Dales by William Thompson, Richard Jackson, 1892
Records of the Parish of Whitkirk by George Moreton Platt, Richard Jackson, 1892
The Manor and Park of Roundhay by John William Morkill, Richard Jackson, 1893
The Wonderful Wapentake by J.S. Fletcher, John Lane, 1895
Tom Cringle’s Log by Michael Scott, Macmillan & Co., 1895 (re-isssue)
The Lay of the Bell by Friedrich Schiller, Ernest Nister, 1895 (re-issue)
The Shadow on the Blind and other Ghost Stories by Mrs Alfred Baldwin
The Story of a Marriage by Mrs Alfred Baldwin, J.M. Dent & Co., 1895, J.M. Dent & Co., 1895  
Peter Simple by Frederick Marryat, Macmillan & Co., 1895 (re-issue)
Morag Maclean: A Perthshire Story of Fifty Years Ago by M.M. Rankin, Andrew Melrose, 1895
Where Highways Cross by J.B. Fletcher, J.M. Dent & Co., 1895
Mary Mordaunt, or Faithful in the Least by Annie Gray, Sunday School Union, 1895 (re-issue)
Ralph Roxburgh’s Revenge by Evelyn Everett Green, Andrew Melrose, 1895
Joseph Rushbrook, or The Poacher by Frederick Marryat, J.M. Dent & Co., 1896
Olla Podrida by Frederick Marryat, J.M. Dent & Co., 1896 (re-issue)
The King’s Own and The Pirate by Frederick Marryat, J.M. Dent & Co., 1896
The Wheels of Chance: A Holiday Adventure by H.G. Wells, J.M. Dent & Co., 1896
Under the Naga Banner by Charles J. Mansford, John Hogg, 1896
Jackson’s Cyclist Guide to Yorkshire by T. Bradley, Richard Jackson, 1896
Monsieur Violet by Frederick Marryat, J.M. Dent & Co., 1896 (re-issue)
Snarelyyow, or The Dog Fiend by Frederick Marryat, J.M. Dent & Co., 1896 (re-issue)
Swept Out to Sea by David Ker, W. & R. Chambers, 1897
Masterman Ready by Frederick Marryat, J.M. Dent & Co., 1897 (re-issue)
The Settlers in Canada by Frederick Marryat, J.M. Dent & Co., 1897 (re-issue)
The “Rover’s” Quest: A Story of Foam, Fire and Fight by Hugh St. Leger, W. & R. Chambers, 1897
The Squire of Lonsdale by E.C. Kenyon, F. Warne & Co., 1897
The Mystery of Hoyle’s Mouth, or The Adventures of Two Runaway Boys by Mary E. Ropes, Sunday School Union, 1897
Hunted Through Fiji, or Betwixt Convict and Cannibal by Reginald Horsley, W. & R. Chambers, 1897
Wild Kitty: A Story of Middleton School by L.T. Meade, W. & R Chambers, 1898
Curios: Some Strange Adventures of Two Bachelors by Richard Marsh, John Long, 1898
Yule Logs: Longman’s Christmas Annual for 1898, Longmans, Green & Co., 1898
A Picturesque History of Yorkshire by J.S. Fletcher, J.M. Dent & Co, 1899 (part-work)
From the Land of the Wombat by William Sylvester Walker, John Long, 1899
King Radama’s Word, or John Aikin’s Adventures in Madagascar by Robert Thynne, John Hogg, 1899
The Dacoit’s Mine, or A Fight for Fortune by Charles R. Kenyon, John Hogg, 1899
The Redemption of Freetown by Charles Monroe Sheldon, F. Warne & Co., 1899
Selby Abbey: A Short Account of the Ancient Abbey Church of St. Mary and St. Germanus by Archibald George Tweedie, W.B. Ellerby, 1899
Lancashire Humour by Thomas Newbigging, J.M. Dent & Co., 1900
Norfolk by William A. Dutt, J.M. Dent & Co., 1900
The Schoolmistress of Haven’s End by Ella Edersheim Overton, Religious Tract Society, 1900
Hampshire with the Isle of Wight by George A.B. Dewar, J.M. Dent & Co., 1900
It’s Never Too Late to Mend by Charles Reade, James Nisbet & Co., 1900 (re-issue)
Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, Andrew Melrose, 1900 (re-issue)
The Oak Staircase: A Narrative of the Times of James II by M. & C. Lee, Griffith Farran Browne, 1900 (re-issue)
The Building of the Ship by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ernest Nister, 1900(?)
Some Literary Landmarks for Pilgrims on Wheels by F.W. Bockett, J.M. Dent & Co., 1901
Surrey by Walter Jerrold, J.M. Dent & Co., 1901
Gabriel Garth, Chartist by Evelyn Everett Green, Andrew Melrose, 1902
The Cathedrals of Britain by P.H. Ditchfield, J.M. Dent & Co., 1902
Gold or Dross? By John W. Kneeshaw, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1902
Fighting Fearful Odds, or The Temptations of Jack Rodney by Robert Leighton, Andrew Melrose, 1903
The Yellow Satchel by Frederick Whishaw, George Routledge & Sons, 1903
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, George Routledge & Sons, 1903 (re-issue)
The Stone-cutter of Memphis by William Patrick Kelly, George Routledge & Sons, 1904
Edinburgh and its Story by Oliphant Smeaton, J.M. Dent & Co., 1904
Hurrah for the Spanish Main by Robert Leighton, Andrew Melrose, 1904
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, J.M. Dent & Co., 1905 (re-issue)
Highcroft Farm by J.S. Fletcher, Cassell & Co., 1906
John Halifax, Gentleman by Mrs Craik, Andrew Melrose, 1906 (re-issue)
The Squire’s Grandchildren by Josephine Turle, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1906
Hugh Larkom’s Sacrifice, or Peaceable Fruit by H. Cranstoun Metclaf, Andrew Melrose. 1906
A Boy’s Visit to Iceland by D.B. McKean, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1906
The Fortunes of Philip Chester by D.B. McKean, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1907
The Doctor’s Daughter by Catherine Shaw, John Shaw, 1907
The Adventures of Timothy by E.C. Kenyon, Religious Tract Society, 1907
Paul et Virginie by Bernadin de Saint Pierre, J.M. Dent & Co., 1907
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Routledge & Sons, 1907(?) (re-issue)
The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Browning by Elizabeth Browning, Collins, 1908
In the Van of the Vikings, or How Olaf Tryggvason Lost and Won by Mary Frances Outram, Religious Tract Society, 1908
The Fighting Lads of Devon, or In the Days of the Armada by William Murray Graydon, S.W. Partridge, 1910
A Little Aversion by “Tasman”, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Against the World by Evelyn R. Garratt, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Dickens in Yorkshire: Being Notes of a Journey to the Delightful Village of Dotheboys, near Greta Bridge by Charles Eyre Pascoe, Pitman, 1912
The Story of Daniel by Edward William Osborne, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1912
The Story of Elijah and Elisha by Helen Louisa Taylor, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1912
The Story of David by Helen Louisa Taylor, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1912
The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Coper, Collins, 1912(?) (re-issue)
Daring Deeds by Herbert Strang, Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1913
The Story of St. Peter by G.M., Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1914
The Story of Moses by H.L. Taylor, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1914

Novels of Balzac    Macmillan  1898-1901(?)
The Seamy Side of History
Parisians in the Country
The Member for Arcis
A Daughter of Eve, and, Letters of Two Brides
A Father’s Curse and Other Stories
A Princess’s Secrets
A Daughter of Eve

Friday, January 05, 2018

Comic Cuts - 5 January 2018

Happy New Year to you all.

I hope you had as enjoyable a time at Christmas as I did. I'll confess here that I spent most of it in front of the TV, in a chair, under a dog, with occasional energetic bursts of on a walk, in the cold, behind a dog. The food was great, we had some laughs and nothing that wasn't meant to be chewed was chewed. I think we can chalk that one up as an excellent Xmas.

New Year was also a laugh and probably the first year in forty that I didn't have a single drink. This was prompted by the discovery of some year-old, out of date cans of lager from the New Year of 2016-17. When nobody else around you is drinking beer, guzzling down lager doesn't have the same appeal. I was still dead on my feet the next day, as we didn't get to bed until around 3.00 am, but at least when I awoke it was with a clear head.

By Tuesday I was back at work on the last few bits of writing I need to do for Forgotten Authors volume two. The lead essay is another big one that is taking up every waking moment to check and double-check. Part of the problem is that I've often written pieces in the past where I haven't bothered to note down sources—Bear Alley's early days are a desert as far as citations are concerned, although some might have noticed that, over the past two or three years, I've been better at noting dates when I've quoted newspapers. So I'm having to dig deep to find sources for everything.

Tracking down my own sources aside, I'm also trying to track down where other people have obtained their information. For instance, as I'm writing about Jack Harkaway, the old penny dreadful character, I'm trying to back up the claim that Jack's appearances added 100,000 to sales of Boys of England, which has been repeated time and time again. But where did it originate and was that source reliable?

I'm pleased to say I'm feeling a bit more invigorated after a week and a bit off—and there were whole days over Christmas when the computer was not turned on once. I'm back to my regular 1,000 words a day despite having spent a couple of mornings on other things, such as running OCR on a lot of (legally downloaded) reference material so that I can search the texts, and desperately hunting around the house for hard copy reference books that I know I have... but where the hell are they?

With luck and a good tailwind, I might finish off this particular essay next week, although at some point I'm going to have to stop dead in my tracks and do my accounts for HM Revenue and Customs... not that they'll be getting much out of me this year (and I might even get a rebate from last year, which would be nice!).

No random scans today, but I'll try to get things back to normal next week. We should have an artist bio. from Robert Kirkpatrick up over the weekend and I have a book in hand to review (one of the reasons I've not had a chance to clean up any scans!).