Tom Kerr – who was he?

Morgan Wallace commented on a post of mine and forwarded this cartoon signed by “Kerr”. I showed this previously here but didn’t read ‘Kerr’! Interestingly this sent me on an exploratory trip to see what we know about Tom Kerr, if this is his work, which i begin to think it is not!

Morgan said

“I don’t have much information to work with. It came with a collection of other similar pieces. I know that all of them are original commissions, never been published.
All 20+ pieces hail solely from 1941-1943. Many were humour artists that contributed to humour publications of the day. Men’s magazines of the period also ran some of the artists, such as prewar and wartime issues of RAZZLE, LONDON OPINION, LILLIPUT, BLIGHTY, PUNCH, and even the Daily Mirror.

 

Kerr cartoon

 

Tom Kerr’s Wikipedia entry is thin on the ground, to say the least and even Steve Holland, our British comics expert admits defeat! He does have many mentions of Kerr and a very early example of his work, but none that show this style signature. When I see Tom Kerr, the comics artist, sign his work it’s usually in upper case and with no chance of comparing the letter ‘e’, which might give us the best clue!

 

Here’s a page form a 1967 Lady Penelope comic of “The Monkees” comic strip just before he finished drawing it. BUT note the signature. Would the above signature have evolved into this one below?

Anyway I have spent an interesting afternoon scouring all sorts of places for this listing which I hope helps someone! Tom Kerr information is so thin on the ground, if you want to contribute, let  me know.

List of strips (which I could find!)

  1. “Adam Eterno” in Thunder (17 October 1970) – Reprinted in Lion Holiday Special 1974
  2. “Alona” in Princess
  3. “The Avengers” in TV Comic 1968 (#877-887, #889)
  4. “Billy’s Boots” in Scorcher
  5. ” Boy Bandit ” in Jag (27 July 1968-1 March 1969)
  6. “Brew-up Ben and his Boomerang” in the never published Whacko (c.1971) – see Steve Holland
  7. “The Can-Do Kids” in Lion (1 January 1972-15 January 1972, 15 April 1972-22 April 1972)
  8. “Charlie Peace” in Buster (August 1964 – June 1966)
  9. “Coote’s Crocks” in Wizard (c.1972) see George Shier’s blog
  10. “Crowther In Trouble” in Look-In ( 9 January 1971- December 1972)
  11. “The Daredevils ” in Jag (11 May 1968-15 June 1968, 29 June 1968-20 July 1968, 10 August 1968, 14 December 1968, 18 January 1969)
  12. The Day the World Forgot” in Eagle (April 26 1969 vol.20 No.17)
  13. “Doctor In Charge” in Look-In (c. May 1972)
  14. “Fatman and Sparrow” in Solo (15 February 1967 – ?)
  15. “The Fenn Street Gang” in Look-In (c. 1971)
  16. “Fireball XL5” in TV21 (30 September 2067 #141- 30 December 2067 #154)
  17. “Get Smart” in TV21 (1 July 2067 , #128 [published in 1967] – 23 December 2067, #153)
  18. “Jack O’ Justice” in Valiant (23 January 1965 – ?)
  19. “Kelly’s Eye” in Knockout (20 October 1962 -9 February 1963)
  20. “The King of Keg island” ran in Lion (14 November 1970 to 13 March 1971)
  21. “Kraken and the Ogre from the Past” in Valiant (August -September 1964)
  22. “Life with Uncle Lionel” in Princess (September 1963 -?)
  23. “The Magic Bus” in Little Star (1972-1974)
  24. “The Man called 39” in Valiant (February and May 1965)
  25. “The Mark of the Mysterons” in Solo (24 June 1967, #19 – ?)
  26. “Mary Jo: the girl with the heart of gold” ran in Princess (1963 – 1967)
  27. “The Mind Stealers” in Lion (28 December 1968 – 26 April 1969)
  28. “The Monkees” in Lady Penelope (24 September 1966 -14 January 1967?)
  29. “Oddball Oates” in Lion (3 May 1969 – 7 November 1970)
  30. “Patty Pickle” in Twinkle
  31. “The Perils of Paul White” in Whizzer and Chips
  32. “Peter the Cat” in Score ‘n’ Roar 1970
  33. “Phil the Fluter” in Lion (20 March 1971-22 January 1972)
  34. “Pinky & Perky” in Harold Hare’s Own Paper
  35. “Pinocchio” in Harold Hare’s Own Paper (c.1960/61)
  36. “Sgt. Bilko” in Solo (18 February 1967 #1 – 14 September 1967 #31?)
  37. “Sgt. Bilko” in TV21 (
  38. “The Sparrows go to War” in Buster  1965
  39. “The Sparrows fight on” Buster Holiday Special 1980 [7 pages]
  40. “The Stealer” in Whizzer and Chips
  41. “The Steel Claw” in Valiant
  42. “Thunder Boult – the Magician who went to War”  in Buster (April 1964 and January 1965)
  43. “Who’d Kill Cockney Robin” in Shiver and Shake
  44. “Witch Winkle” in Twinkle
  45. “The Outlaws” in Jag 8 June, 15 June, 20 July, 3 August, 31 August, 16 November 1968
  46. Valiant Book of TV’s Sexton Blake
  47.  ~~Anti-smoking strips See Lew Stringer’s blog
  48. ~~Clarkes Commando (boys shoes) adverts (Series 1, Series 2)

Our Dutch friends have an entry in the vast Lambiek Comiclopedia which forms the basis of the Wikipedia article and Lew Stringer has examples of his work on his blog, but no biographical information. Roger Perry (a contemporary) in his memoirs for Downthetubes mentions Kerr illustrating strips in the Lady Penelope Annual of the Monkees, which he also did in the comic too. Kerr drew Monty Carstairs (who was also drawn by Frank Bellamy). British Comic Art blog has some nice scans

I used GCD, ComicsUK Forum, the above mentioned Steve Holland’s Bear Alley Blog, Lew Stringer’s Blog and any other source I could find!

And finally, on the ComicsUK Forum Shaqui mentioned on 1 March 2006:

I’ve seen Tom Kerr‘s signature on strips as far back as 1960, drawing ‘Pinky & Perky’ and ‘Pinocchio’ for ‘Harold Hare’s Own Comic’. I tried to trace him through his agent but was told he died in the 1970s.

 

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Supermoose chocolate bar and Peter Ford

Countdown 006_1971_Mar_27 Pg 24

Countdown  #6 27 March 1971, p.24

A recent email prompted me to look into Supermoose, as I was investigating whether Frank Bellamy produced some advertising for the chocolate bar.  I remember the milky chocolate bar (from Cadbury Limited) which I thought more substantial than Milky Way (Mars Limited). It appeared in 1970, as far as I can ascertain, and was “a chocolate covered nougatine whip”, perhaps explaining why I liked it better than Milky Way!

It appears that the cartoons are by Peter Ford, who has an interesting, but brief history on the Internet.

Steve Holland points out his realistic artwork in Commando comics and John Freeman’s DowntheTubes lists a few of the reprinted stories he did. Peter Gray’s comic and art blog mentions his work on “Dad’s Army” in Countdown‘s later incarnation as TV Action and ComicsUK Forum shows he also illustrated “Motormouse and Autocat” strips too. He has also illustrated some “Bewitched” strips which appeared in Lady Penelope in the second half of the 1960s.

Matthew Emery (on the above mentioned forum) says:

Mick Anglo described him in his book on the fifties as, ‘a stocky Maori who used to draw adventure strips in which Aeroplanes often featured.’

Gerry Embleton shared the following, “Peter Ford was a very dear friend of mine when I was in my very early twenties. He was a wonderful character, he sang in amateur opera, played the guitar, was a talented cartoonist and comic strip artist, a paratroop instructor, a judo third Dan and ran a school, and was a school teacher. These separate worlds rarely had contact with each other and when he died representatives of his different interests gathered at his funeral and were amazed to discover how wide his interests were. He was quite a formidable character having a Polynesian anatomy, very big and powerful, a fierce warrior look when angry and a huge white toothed smile.”

From what I’ve researched he very likely grew up in Poplar.

Shaqui on the above Forum mentions that: “[Regarding] “Perils of Parker”, [i]n fact Gerry Embleton did the first 20 or so, then there was a ‘crossing over’ period as Embleton and Ford shared a studio, before Ford took over the strip entirely.”

and later states

“…[H]aving corresponded with his close friend Gerry Embleton, Peter Ford sadly died of a heart attack in the 1970s.”

If you follow Matthew emery’s pursuit of information at Rootschat.com you’ll see, he was an expert in Judo as well as an artist!

Anyway back to the Supermoose series. It surprised me when I researched a bit further as it started in issue 6 (27 March 1971) of Countdown and continued until issue 31 (18 September 1971) without a break. Most appeared on the back page, but sometimes moved inside in order a special feature appear in its stead.

If anyone can add anything, let me know

Countdown 007 Pg 15

Countdown 008 Pg 24
Countdown 009 Pg 24 - SupermousseCountdown 010 Pg 24Countdown 011 Pg 15Countdown 012 Pg 24Countdown 013 Pg 24Countdown 014 Pg 10Countdown 015 Pg 24Countdown 016 Pg 22Countdown 017 Pg 24Countdown 018 Pg 24Countdown 019 Pg 10Countdown 020 Pg 18Countdown 021 Pg 24Countdown 022 Pg 10Countdown 023 Pg 24Countdown 024 Pg 24Countdown 025 Pg 15Countdown 026 Pg 18Countdown 027 Pg 15Countdown 028 Pg 10Countdown 029 Pg 10Countdown 030 Pg 10

And the last strip that I have found was published in Countdown issue 31 (18 September 1971)

Countdown 031 Pg 22_1971_Sep_18

Norman Thelwell

My wife and I visited Hampshire recently in order to see the Norman Thelwell exhibition (16 January to 10 April 2016, 11am – 5pm)at the National Trust property, Mottisfont House. I was really pleased to see that the captions, which were excellent, stated that all the artwork on display was “On loan from the Thelwell Family Archive”. I hope they won’t mind me sharing these crude photographs all taken by me, and thus including reflections!

It was wonderful to walk round a few rooms and find older people than me laughing out loud. The cartoons still work so well and as one caption stated:

“In some ways Thelwell was out of step with conventions for cartoons in post-war Britain – these were often political and urban in outlook and acerbic in tone. […] Thelwell’s approach was completely different. His style was always naturalistic  and he included a great deal of descriptive detail. […] Although he said that politics bored him, Thelwell did produce cartoons that used humour to protest against environmental issues.”

 

The following are borrowed from the Mottisfont website (All Thelwell material is © The Estate of Norman Thelwell, and the official website has great stuff that I have no need to reproduce here!):

1431740628856-thelwell2

 

Romsey Abbey

Romsey Abbey by Norman Thelwell

thelwell4

Ron Embleton in The Crackerjack Western Book published by The Children’s Press

I found these on the web recently and thought them worth posting. I believe the given date of 1959 as the British Library’s copy (if the same book) states [1960], but these things are hard to date. They are by Ron Embleton, an artist I saw a lot when growing up in the late fifties, sixties and seventies. His work appeared in many of the comics of my youth such as ‘Stingray’ in TV21, and many illustrations of historical subjects in Look & Learn. Even my Mother and Father-in-Law had one of his “Victorian sellers” pictures, or was is “Victorian children’s games”? You can buy lots of his original artwork from the nice people at Illustration Art Gallery.

The Crackerjack Western Book [1959] (The Children's Press)_IMG_0001

Roger Hall’s cover to the 1959(?) Crackerjack Western Book

"Express Delivery" illustrated by Ron Embleton

“Express Delivery” illustrated by Ron Embleton, p130

p.126

Ron Embleton p.132

Ron Embleton p.128

Ron Embleton p.134

Ron Embleton p.130

Ron Embleton p.136

Ron Embleton p.131

Ron Embleton p.137

Ron Embleton p.140

Ron Embleton p.140

Ron Embleton p.142

Ron Embleton p.142

Ron Embleton p.143

Ron Embleton p.143

Das Herz der Julia Köster- The Heart of Juliet Jones

I’ve been clearing out my Mother’s house and found  a lot of very tatty love stories in German. They’ve all been put in recyling as they are too tatty to do anything with, but by accident I spotted one I’d thrown for recycling which opened up at a very familiar page.

Just so nothing is wasted and in case someone is researching Stan Drake’s creation, here are the three pages of Stella-Roman Bd. 377 (‘Band’ meaning ‘issue’) which I guess appeared in the 1970s as that’s when my Mum was likely to have got these! But it’s a guess! Stella Roman means ‘Stella Novel’ but I discovered there was a person called that too – who’d have known!

According to the Grand Comics Database the story Das Herz der Julia Köster was published in German in 1953 by Walter Lehning Verlag. And if you want the English version see Classical Comics website for some fantastic stories and artwork.

 

Stella Roman Band 377

Stella Roman Band 377

Das Herz der Julia Köster

Das Herz der Julia Köster

Das Herz der Julia Köster

Das Herz der Julia Köster

Das Herz der Julia Köster

Das Herz der Julia Köster

 

The other thing that piqued my interest was the following novel “Die Zeit mit Leon” by Willo Davis Roberts, “a novel of love and secrets”  and published by Erich PabelVerlag  in Germany in June 1973. The bit cropped off the top says “Der Spannungsroman für Frauen” (mystery fiction for women). The original American title was “The Devil Boy”. Why did I notice this particularly, the cover. It so looks like a DC comic cover from the seventies but which one?

 

Gaslichtroman #51

Gaslichtroman #51