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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

"A warehouse full of art - dear God!"

Monday, October 06, 2008

Back at the beginning of this summer I received a note from David Roach, British comics artist of Judge Dredd, author, historian, and long-time TI subscriber. David had the most incredible story to tell me, and has agreed to allow me to share it with you:

"I was trying to track down some 70's IPC strips for a Spanish company and rang round everybody I could think of, finally speaking to someone in licencing who mentioned 2 warehouses - one with bound volumes in it and another with the art. A warehouse full of art - dear God!"


"I went along soon after (this is early 2005 I think) to a very rough part of London called Canning Town and found stack after stack of comic pages and covers stretching back to the 50's - just as I always dreamed might happen but never thought actually would. Just think of the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and you'll get a good picture of the scene. It turned out that they had no idea what was there (or even which comics they'd published!) so I suggested I do an inventory for them which I duly did throughout that summer."

All told there were about 26,000 (yup, that's right) comic book pages from girls and boys comics as well as about 10,000 Nursery pages. Around 1400 war covers had survived, the best of which are in my books. My chum Rufus (currently drawing Tank Girl) helped and has said on several occasions that it was the best summer of his life - and you can bet the same goes for me - I was in heaven."


"At some point an editor from Carlton books was in IPC's offices and saw a few covers which had been moved there. He was so inspired by them he decided to put out 2 collections of them whereupon I was drafted in as the only person in the country who could actually identify the artists and could write about them. As a fan I was thrilled to see how the first one came out - the reproduction was incredible so I'd have bought it myself if I hadn't written it."

David agreed to share with us some examples from this astonishing treasure-trove, and has provided his expertise about the artists and the publications for which they worked. If you reside in North America, I suspect much or all of this material will be entirely unknown to you, as it was to me. It is with great pleasure that I invite you to join me on this week's journey of discovery of the long-forgotten cover art of British war comics, with my sincere thanks to David Roach for being our guide...

7 comments

  1. This is amazing! Thank you to you and David for sharing it with us!

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  2. Astonishing story!!! I remember buying a garage full of stuff owned by the family of a deceased newsstand owner when I worked for a comic store in the late 70's. In it we found bundles of unopened comics from the early 1960's that contained FIVE beautiful copies of Fantastic Four #1, ELEVEN Spider-Man #2's and many others. Your hear stories like this less and less these days. Really brings a smile to my face to know this art still exists!

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  3. You're very welcome, innisart - I'm sure David says so too - and thanks for the encouraging comment :-)

    Joe;

    I had a dream like that once... that I was driving in the country and stopped at a mom n' pop in some small town, and near the back, by the magazine rack, was a cardboard box full of old EC's and early Marvels and such - 5 cents each. When I woke up and realized it was just a dream I nearly wept!

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  4. I've a brother-in-law who buys estates from families who've lost a senior loved one. Many of these are old homes, some a hundred years old or more. I've told him time and again, should he ever uncover a stash of old magazines or comics hidden away in some antic or cellar, he is to call me immediately. This story of the warehouse filled with comic art is simply astounding!! And marvelous. Nice to know that somewhere in the world, someone was wise enough to hold on to these, no matter their reasoning. Bravo.

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  5. Terrific, thnx to David!

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  6. Thank goodness this fell into the right hands before some disaster - fire, flood, the bin.

    And thanks for sharing it! Simply astounding.

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  7. JEFF SLATER12:01 PM

    I bought the war comics as a kid in the 50's and 60's and at that young age it was the covers that made me buy the comic. I never stopped looking at those comic covers and wondred in later years what medium were they painted in and where are the originals now. Fast forward to the release of Aaarrrgh it's War, there they all were, I did some digging and found who had them, I drove down to his wherehouse with some cash I scraped together hoping to buy some, my thoughts were that the best ones had gone. As I met him, he led me to where they were, there two pallets and maybe three foot high all original cover artwork from War Picture Library and Battle. I went through each one picking out which I considered the best. I only had enough for five which I still have, they are a part of my memories and childhood and they belong to me.

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