Illustration Art Gallery

The very best from the wide, sometimes overlooked, world of illustration art, including original artwork for book illustrations and covers, comic books and comic strips, graphic novels, magazines, film animation cels, newspaper strips, poster art, album covers, plus superb fine art reproductions and high quality art prints.

Our gallery brings together artists from all over the world and from many backgrounds, including fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, education, sport, history, nature, technology, humour, glamour, architecture, film & tv, whimsy, even political satire and caricature.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Barbara C. Freeman

"Barbara C. Freeman is a gentle writer, with a particular appeal to girls. She makes no great demands of her readers, but does provide good entertainment. Anyone wanting easy, fluent, romantic stories would do well to consider her work." So wrote Felicity Trottman in Twentieth-Century Children's Writers.

Freeman was both a writer and artist, starting out primarily as an illustrator. "I write, I suppose, chiefly because I enjoy writing," she later said. "I like living in two worlds: the one I was born into and the other (which becomes entirely real) which I write about. I'm deeply interested in the way ordinary people lived in the past and the way in which the past thrusts into the present. I believe that most writers find that their characters develop lives of their own and sometimes take charge of both conversations and plots. This, for me, is pure delight, and I allow my people all the freedom that is possible.

"At art school I was trained to observe details of every kind, and it is a habit that one never grows out of. Details, especially those of the past, fascinate me."

Barbara Constance Freeman was born in Ealing, Middlesex, on 29 November 1906, the daughter of writer and secondhand bookseller William Freeman and his wife Lucy Constance Freeman (nee Rimmington), who were married in 1905. She studied at the Tiffin Girls' School, Kingston-upon-Thames and at Kingston School of Art.

Freeman began working as a painter with Green & Abbott, a West End wallpaper studio (1926-27). From there she turned freelance, often working on annuals. She specialised as an artist of fairy tales, although in a realistic style with fantastic elements. She was often called upon to illustrate classic stories the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. She also produced illustrations for The Children's Encyclopedia.

As television grew and the number of annuals and entertainments for children disappeared in the 1950s, Freeman turned to writing her own stories, beginning in 1956. He first books, Timi and Two-Thumb Thomas, were published in 1961.

Her work was exhibited at the Heritage Centre, Kingston-upon-Thames Museum, in 1989.

Since her early childhood, she lived in a mid-Victorian house with a large garden, from which she drew much of her inspiration. She died in May 1999.


Timi. London, Faber, 1961; New York, Grosset and Dunlap, 1970.
Two-Thumb Thomas. London, Faber, 1961.
A Book by Georgina. London, Faber, 1962; New York, Norton, 1968.
Broom-Adelaide. London, Faber, 1963; Boston, Little Brown, 1965.
The Name on the Glass. London, Faber, 1964; New York, Norton, 1966.
Lucinda. London, Faber, 1965; New York, Norton, 1967.
Tobias. London, Faber, 1967.
The Forgotten Theatre. London, Faber, 1967.
The Other Face. London, Macmillan, 1975; New York, Dutton, 1976.
A Haunting Air. London, Macmillan, 1976; New York, Dutton, 1977.
A Pocket of Silence. London, Macmillan, 1977; New York, Dutton, 1978.
The Summer Travellers. London, Macmillan, 1978.
Snow in the Maze. London, Macmillan, 1979.
Clemency in the Moonlight. London, Macmillan, 1981.

Examples of Barbara Freeman's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jesus Blasco

From November 1954 when his first strip appeared in the UK, Jesús Blasco carved an astonishing path through British comics, producing some of the most popular stories of their times. British strips often played fast and loose with historical facts and physics and grounding them in Blasco’s photo realistic artwork made them believable to their youthful audience. His artwork inspired a generation of new artists, Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland both acknowledging his influence.

Jesús Blasco Monterde was born in Barcelona, Spain, on 3 November 1919, one of five siblings—brothers Alejandro, Adriano, Augusto and sister Pilar—who, to one degree or another, all worked in comics. Entirely self-taught, Blasco began working professionally in comics shortly after his first prize-winning drawing appeared in Mickey when he was 14. Only 15, he created ‘Cuto’ for Biloche in 1935. The boy hero become one of Spain’s most popular comic creations following his appearance in Chicos in 1940 and Blasco added a second popular strip to his CV when he created ‘Anna Diminuta’ for Mis Chicas.

Blasco was called up to serve during the Spanish Civil War and, after the war, served three years military service whilst still managing to keep up a steady output of comic strips from war stories to nursery tales.

In 1954, he made his debut in the UK and continued to contribute to British comics for over 20 years. From drawing ‘Buffalo Bill’ and ‘Billy the Kid’ in Comet and Sun, Blasco took over the artwork of those most British of heroes, ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Dick Turpin’. He also turned his hand to fairy tales, drawing beautifully painted spreads for Playhour featuring Pinocchio, the Dancing Princesses, Rumpelstiltskin and others.

In 1962 he drew ‘Vengeance Trail’ for Eagle and, that same year, began work on his two longest-running strips: the darkly menacing adventures of ‘The Steel Claw’ in Valiant and the whimsical children’s fantasy ‘Edward and the Jumblies’ for Teddy Bear.

Thanks to inking help from his brothers Alejandro and Adriano, who did not receive any individual credits in the UK after 1955, the Blasco family were able to turn out an astonishing number of pages each week with no fall-off in quality.

In 1968, Blasco adapted ‘Montezuma’s Daughter’ for Look and Learn and went on to draw further features and stories for that paper and its companion, Treasure. In the 1970s, he also drew the adventures of ‘The Wombles’ and ‘Return of the Claw’, but the market in the UK was no longer able to absorb his output. In 1968 he had drawn ‘Los guerrilleros’, written by Michael Cussó, for Spirou. Now, in 1974, he became more heavily involved in the Portuguese comic Jornal do Cuto and the Spanish comic Chito and his output in the UK fell away. Apart from a few episodes of ‘Dredger’ in Action and the opening three episodes of ‘Invasion’ for 2000AD, Blasco turned his sights to Europe, where he was invited to adapt the Bible as a series of comic strips.

In 1982, Blasco was awarded the prestigious Yellow Kid at Lucca and the French honorary award Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 1986 he worked with Victor Mora on reviving ‘El Capitán Trueno’ but the strip was caught up in the collapse of its publisher. Blasco turned to Italy and Bonelli’s long-running western saga ‘Tex’ and science-fantasy ‘Zona X’. He also teamed up again with Victor Mora to recount the historical adventures of ‘Tallaferro’.

Blasco died on 21 October 1995, survived by only one brother, Adriano.

Examples of Jesus Blasco's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mike Hubbard

Although known as Mike Hubbard, he was born Ernest Alfred Hubbard in Harold's Cross, Dublin, Ireland, on 2 April 1902. Given his Irish origins, the belief that his name was Mike was almost certainly a corruption of Mick.

Hubbard was the son of London-born Edmond John Hubbard, a bookbinder who worked on book edge gilding, and Irish-born Mary Ellen Hubbard. Their two children, Edmond John Hubbard and Ernest Alfred Hubbard were both schooled in Manor Park, Essex

His earliest known work, which appeared in the Amalgamated Press's The Thriller, was signed Ernest Hubbard. Hubbard was already an accomplished artist even in these early illustrations. He was particularly noted for his lissome women in figure-hugging silk dresses, which was to stand him in good stead in the future. His work appeared in Detective Weekly, Modern Wonder and The Passing Show in the 1930s but, like many artists, he turned to comic strips in the post-World War II years, the storypaper having suffered so greatly from the paper shortages and rationing.

During the war, Percy Clarke had stepped into the shoes of Edward Holmes as editor of Knock-out Comic. With scriptwriters in short supply, Clarke instigated a series of adaptations of classics, starting with Gulliver's Travels and taking in Peter the Whaler, Mr. Midshipman Easy and The Children of the New Forest.

For his next adaptation, Clarke hired Hubbard and, thereon, Hubbard (roughly) alternated with Eric R. Parker on adaptations, his strips for Knockout including Treasure Island, The Coral Island, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Sinbad the Sailor, The Adventures of Marco Polo and Red River.

By this time, Hubbard was also involved in the strip that was to make his name. The war years had made Jane of the Daily Mirror a household name. The saucy Jane had won over the hearts of soldiers and her knockabout adventures continued to offer plenty of cheerful, cheeky fun in the drab post-war years. However, the artwork of the strip's creator, Norman Pett, was starting to look a little old-fashioned and Hubbard was bought in as an assistant, at first to draw backgrounds but, before long, to draw Jane herself. After two years, Pett was let-go and Hubbard took over the strip completely.

He was to draw Jane for eleven years, at the same time continuing his association with Knockout until pressure on the daily strip meant no time for further assignments.

However, eventually Jane came to an end and Hubbard returned to drawing for comics, finding work mostly on girls' titles such as Valentine, Schoolgirl Picture Library, Poppet and June in the early- to mid-1960s. He would also pop up in boys' titles, drawing adaptations of King Solomon's Mines and Alan Quartermain for Ranger, and Coral Island for Look and Learn.

One of his finest later strips was 'Jane Bond, Secret Agent' for Tina and Princess Tina and he produced a range of beautifully painted fairy tales and adaptations of Francis Hodgson Burnett in the early 1970s for Pixie. He was still drawing in his late sixties but eventually had to lay down his pen. He died on 25 June 1976.

Examples of Mike Hubbard's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

C. L. Doughty

Cecil Langley Doughty was one of the most prolific and successful historical illustrators to work on Look and Learn and other weekly educational papers. He produced several thousand illustrations between 1961 and 1982, his output astonishing in both quantity and quality.

Doughty was born in Withernsea, Yorkshire, on 7 November 1913 and trained at Battersea Polytechnic. His earliest comic strip was a two-page Buffalo Bill adventure which appeared in Knockout in July 1948. Doughty produced strips for Phillip Marx’s Star Flash Comic and Challenger Comic in 1948, followed by the cover and interior art for an adaptation of 'Oliver Twist' for the first issue of A Classic in Pictures (1949). 'Lorna Doone' followed soon after (in issue 8) before Doughty returned to the Amalgamated Press, drawing ‘Terry Brent’, a spot-the-clue detective series for School Friend.

Doughty found his metier when he began drawing for Thriller Comics, the 64-page pocket library edited by Leonard Matthews. His first tale was an adaptation of W. Harrison Ainsworth’s Windsor Castle (1953) followed by a variety of stories featuring Robin Hood and Dick Turpin. Critic David Ashford, a long-time fan of Doughty’s work, has said, “Turpin’s comrades were beautifully realised by Doughty. Based, as they are, on R. H. Brock’s drawings for the Newnes pocket book series of the 1930s, all the varied personalities came to life – among them, the elegant “gentleman highwayman” Tom King, the swaggering Irishman, Pat O’Flynn and, perhaps best of all, the humorous character Jem Peters, he of the mutton chop whiskers. All are portrayed with obvious affection and enormous gusto. Strongly influenced not only by the Brock brothers but by other 19th century artists of 18th century subjects such as Hugh Thomson, Doughty’s style is, I think, best expressed in the one word, “debonair”. There is a certain way in which his leading characters stand, move and tilt their head which is peculiar to Doughty. It is a style which is ideal for these historical entertainments and strongly reminiscent at times of Douglas Fairbanks at his swashbuckling best.”

Doughty’s ability to paint had not been recognised in the 1950s, his only full page painting appearing on the rear cover of an issue of Comet in 1958. He worked briefly for Express Weekly (1957-58) and for eight months took over the artwork for ‘Jack O’Lantern’, a historical adventure strip in Eagle (1959-60).

In 1962, Doughty began producing illustrations in colour and black & white for Look & Learn. Doughty occasionally wrote his own scripts for the series on ‘Famous Houses’ that appeared on the centre pages of in early issues. 

When Look and Learn closed in April 1982, Doughty decided to retire from commercial artwork and concentrate on landscapes. Already in his late sixties, he held an exhibition of his ‘straight’ work in Carmarthen, where he was then living.  He also took on commissions and produced some magnificent paintings for fans.

In 1985, Doughty moved to a dilapidated cottage with a splendid studio, but died shortly after, on 26 October 1985, aged 71. An extensive biography and gallery of Doughty's Look and Learn work appeared in 2012 entitled Pages From History.

Examples of Doughty's work can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bill Baker

Bill Baker is something of a mystery artist. Although it is possible to track his work through various comics over a twenty-year period, very little is known about the artist himself. He first appears with one-off stories in Top Spot, followed by a brief serial, 'New Rider at Clearwater', and illustrations for Girl in 1960-64. He remained active in girls' papers for the next decade, contributing to Tina ('Two on Cockatoo') Princess Tina ('Life with Tina'), June ('Call Me Cupid', 'Wedding in the Family') and Pixie Annual.

In 1974 he produced his first literary adaptation for Look and Learn, based on Jack London's The Call of the Wild. This was followed in quick succession by The Sea Wolf (London, 1974-75), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne, 1975), Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes, 1975), The Prince and the Pauper (Mark Twain, 1976), Moby Dick (Herman Melville, 1977), Westward Ho! (Charles Kingsley, 1977), A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens, 1977-78) and King Solomon's Mines (H. Rider Haggard, 1978).

It was during the publication of the latter – in August 1978 – that Baker disappeared from the pages of Look and Learn, the strip taken over with episode nine by C. L. Doughty.

Examples of Baker's work can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.