Today's entry rounds up work from some of the other notable artists who worked on the British war Picture Library comics .
Like his fellow Italians Caroseli moved on from movie posters to war comic covers commissioned through the Milan based D’Ami studio . His earliest British work was for the detective series Sexton Blake but he soon moved over to the war titles and ended up painting almost 200 of them . His painting style was polished and slick like DeGaspari but perhaps without the same sense of the dramatic . On occasions though he could come up with a real classic, like the example here . He would appear to have drifted away from comics in the mid 60’s and I believe he moved over to fine art .
Not all the cover artist were Spanish and the most prolific of all was a Brit – Graham Coton . Coton started out as a comic book artist in the early 50’s and developed an incredibly detailed pen and ink style . Machines and vehicles were his speciality and he drew numerous strips featuring racing cars or aeroplanes . In the early 60’s his covers began appearing on Air Ace though at this stage he was using thin watercolour washes , By the end of the decade he had changed over completely to thickly troweled on oils , painted on enormous sheets of masonite , board or wood. His later covers – of which there must be well over 1000 are typified by grizzled , dirt encrusted soldiers and vast monolithic war machines, gesturally painted in a style that always reminds me of the great John Berkey. Coton was there until the end in 1984 and continued to turn out vast numbers of pictures for Look And Learn magazine and the fine art market .
Best known in the states as the artist of the Friday Foster newspaper strip Jordi Longaron was a much more versatile artist than most people are aware . From the late 50’s to the late 60’s he was absolutely the top Romance artist in Britain providing countless strips the S.I agency to titles such as Valentine and Marilyn . In fact he so dominated the genre that his sleek , pared down style and knack for drawing pretty girls set the style of the genre for over two decades . In between the romance strips he squeezed in over 30 war covers in an ultra – dynamic , gritty style more reminiscent of Jordi Penalva than his own comic work . After Friday Foster was cancelled in the mid 70’s he turned primarily to western paperback covers which combine elements of his war covers with the realism of a Robert McGinnis . I’ve long believed that Longaron ius one of the giants of illustration but sadly his work is almost totally forgotten these days – it’s high time for a revival !
A legend in British comics, the Scottish artist Ian Kennedy has had a long and varied career but his passion remains aeroplanes. Throughout the 50’s and sixties he drew numerous strips about cowboys , ballerina’s or spacemen but he really came into his own in the pages of Air Ace. His comic work was staggeringly detailed and precise and he revealed a masterful grasp of drawing dynamic hardware of all sorts from the most detailed cockpit control panels to rampaging Tiger Tanks , ships , jeeps or planes. In the mid 60’s he began to paint covers in the same tight, precise style that typified his comic work often employing a vibrantly bright palette. In the 70’s he jumped over to Commando and almost forty years laters he’s still there and still creating new masterpieces each month every bit as beautifully as he had in his youth. Kennedy remains one of the most popular artists amongst British comic fans with one of the most recognised styles in the business .
The final artist this week is the Swiss-born , but London based Oliver Frey. In 1969 the 21 year old Frey was studying in film school when he approached Fleetway hoping to pick up some easy money to live on. They loved his samples and he went away with a script . After a short while he began painting the covers to his strips and eventually became primarily a painter – his film career long forgotten. Freys work in this period is perhaps less realistic than his peers but he more than makes up for that with a real – in your face – sense of the dramatic and many of the most memorable 70’s covers are his. He went on to paint numerous covers for science fiction and video game projects and has amassed quite a following amongst British fans .
So ends our week peering into the dim and dusty past of British comic books – I hope you’ve all enjoyed it .
* Many thanks to David Roach, British comics artist of Judge Dredd, author, comics historian, and long-time TI subscriber for providing this week's enlightening series of posts! All this week's images are mostly taken from the original art and can be found in David's latest book, "The Art Of War" published by Prion books in the UK. An earlier volume "Aarrgghh It’s War" came out last year and each contain over 1000 of the best war comic covers.
This week's images are © IPC Media.