In my blog on Raymond Sheppard I have reproduced all of the Sheppard drawings from the original series in Swift (6 April 1957 to 2 November 1957). Unfortunately, I don’t own all the relevant original Swift comics so was totally reliant on the reprint book Animals and their Young, London: Longacre Press, 1962. This presented a conundrum. Had all the other animal illustrations, present in the reprint book, also first appeared in Swift and – my natural curiosity – who were the artists responsible for them?
Once I’d received the two – anxiously sought after – Longacre books, Birds and their Nests being a companion title, my first task had been to compile a complete listing of their contents, to send to David Slinn who had freelanced on Swift in the late-1950s. His response, immediately clarified a number of issues:
“Where the birds are concerned, those not drawn by Raymond Sheppard will almost certainly have been amongst the subsequent input from Tom Adams. The animals are less straightforward, though somewhat more intriguing, and present various possibilities. The red deer, offers three alternatives, though the hedgehog just one, from separate Tom Adams’ Swift series, in the first instance, ‘Looking at Things’. The sea-lion and walrus required researching further ahead, but eventually turned up, with a couple of illustrations by our old friend Basil Reynolds.
“This Longacre title, based on the first Swift series, ‘Animals and their Young’, which was handled entirely by Raymond Sheppard, has clearly left the book’s editor eleven species short of requirements. There was, by the early 1960s, a wealth of colour wildlife artwork stored in Hulton House, so there would have been very little difficulty in sourcing anything required from earlier Eagle and Girl features as well.”
After I sent him scans of these relevant pages from the reprinted volume, David was able add to his initial comments:
“The editorial budget looks to have been fairly substantial, as it is almost certainly Tom Adams, himself, who has provided the baby hedgehog/leaves/ground (there’s just a trace of the vertical join, while the horizontal is lost in the re-inked shadow area). Likewise the extended left-hand stretch of woodland, behind the stag and family, has been painted with his characteristic treatment.
“Whether, in every case, the original illustrator had been contacted to adapt their artwork, certainly the background sunset to the walrus picture, looks to have been added from the unmistakable “Disney-like” palette associated with Basil Reynolds. Although, the somewhat arbitrary cropping didn’t do this image any favours. Which is slightly worrying as, of course, any re-proportioning or additional artwork required on Raymond Sheppard’s original artwork, unfortunately – as, of course, with his tragic early death in 1958 – won’t have been in his hands.”
Finally, the following alternative Red Deer illustrations to the one included in the book, provide a couple of further examples of Tom Adams’ extensive contribution to the Swift comic.
I wish to register my thanks to David Slinn for his extensive knowledge of who did what in the Swift comic and for his help on this article.