Sunday, 30 June 2013

Ray Harryhausen in the UK: Mysterious Island

Last month I posted about The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, the first film wich Ray Harryhausen worked on after moving to Britain. His next project was Mysterious Island, a 1961 adaptation of the Jules Verne novel.

Harryhausen provided a set of giant animals to the film: namely, a crab, a bird, bees and an ammonite.

Friday, 28 June 2013

TV Comic Annual 1955

A few scans from the 1955 TV Comic Annual. At this point the comic was aimed at preschool readers (it would later target slightly older kids, with strips based on series such as The Avengers) and was dominated by stories and comic strips starring puppet characters from television programmes for small children.

I'll be the first to admit that these string and glove puppets are not, strictly speaking, animated characters - but I'd say they're close enough cousins to be covered here.

Muffin the Mule appears to have been the comic's main draw at this point, starring in both an illustrated prose story and a comic strip. Neville Main provides art for both, while the prose story is credited to Annette Mills, the presenter who appeared alongside Muffin on television.

Muffin's co-stars Prudence Kitten and Peregrine Penguin get their own strips as well. Annette Mills is again credited with writing for Prudence, but no artist is identified. The Peregrine strip has no credits at all.

More strips credited to Annette Mills, although I'm unsure as to where the characters originated. At first I assumed that Puffer Dog and Charlie Parkin appeared on television alongside Muffin, Peregrine and the rest, but I can find no confirmation online of them ever appearing in anything outside of various tie-in books. Puffer certainly looks like he was modelled around a puppet, so perhaps he was a character who never caught on.

Next up we have Hank, a character created by ventriloquist Francis Coudrill for the children's series Whirligig. Coudrill was also an illustrator, and his distinctive minimalist style can be seen in these illustrations.

Here we have the perennial Sooty. His original performer Harry Corbett is credited and was presumably the writer; more surprising is the name of Tony Hart, familiar from numerous children's arts programmes (some of which saw him appearing alongside Aardman's first star, Morph).

Mr. Turnip is another puppet character from Whirligig. His creator Joy Laurey is credited on this strip.

When this annual was published,  S. G. Hulme Beaman's Toytown stories or radio, which starred Larry the Lamb and others, had not yet been animated. However, this Toytown story has an animated connection as its illustrations are credited to George Moreno, the American animator who moved to the UK and set up British Animated Productions, the studio behind the Bubble and Squeek cartoons of the fifties. Bear Alley has a post about him; one of the replies is from an animator who worked for Moreno in the sixties and speculates that some of the artwork credited to him in fifties comics was actually ghosted by members of his studio

The Bear Alley post mentioned above identifies this series, starring a character named Polly-Copter, as being illustrated by Moreno; however, in this annual the only credit is for Dorothy Dee, presumably the writer. As far as I can tell Polly-Copter was created specifically for TV Comic.

And just to round things off... clowns. Because clowns are always favourites!