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, October 6, 2010

Graham Allen

Born in 1940, Graham Allen is one of the unsung cartoonists whose work filled Fleetway's humour comics for 20 years, although his career in comics began many years earlier. A talent for humour must have run in the family as Allen's father, Clive, was half of a variety hall double act with Bobby Joy and for ten years was Max Miller's pianist.

Graham was already on Fleetway's staff by 1957 as an art bodger working on Davy Crockett and Kanasas Kid stories for Cowboy Comics Library. In the mid-1960s he established himself as a cartoonist with Fleetway drawing "Sir Munchkin—Have Lance Will Travel" for Lion and "One Man and his Dog" for Buster, as well as a weekly strip, "Lord Elpus", for Sunday Extra. He was lured over to work for Odhams on Smash!, Pow! and Wham! in a Baxendale-inspired anarchic style, although he had always crammed every inch of space with multiple characters dating back to the days of "Sir Munchkin". Probably his best work appeared in Smash! where he drew "Tuffy McGrew" and "The Nervs".

With the merger of Odhams' editorial with IPC's, Allen's work began to appear in the newly restyled IPC humour comics. Whizzer & Chips featured "Give a Dog a Bone" from its first issue, featuring the antics of a pooch who always finds trouble when trying to find a place to hide a bone; whilst another doggy character's ongoing battle with a butcher ("Mutt 'n' Chops") began appearing in Buster a few months later. IPC's next launch, Cor!!, featured the antics of the endlessly bored "Eddie" and a trickster whose attempts to spoil people's fun always ended in a comeuppance for "Spoilsport".

Allen also drew "Mickey's Moonbugs" for TV21 & Joe 90 and "Trouble Shooter" for Score 'n' Roar before linking up with Look-In to draw "Please Sir!", adapting the TV series starring John Alderton as teacher Bernard Hedges and a classroom full of miscreants led by Peter Cleall's Eric Duffy. Duffy and his pals (girlfriend Sharon, dimwitted Dennis and the rest) also starred in a spin-off series, The Fenn Street Gang, which Allen also transferred to the pages of Look-In.

One of Allen's most fondly-remembered strips, "Fiends and Neighbours" debuted in Cor!! in 1973, transferring to Buster when Cor!! was merged a few months later. In it, the Jones's, a nice respectable couple in a nice, quiet neighbourhood, find their lives are subjected to all kinds of terrors by newcomers, the Really-Ghastly family, who move in next door.

Allen continued to supply IPC with many more strips during the 1970s, including "Spy School" for new launch Whoopee! in 1974 and "Scruffy Dog and Shaggy Dog" and "Clarence Stringbean" for Buster, as well as drawing strips for D. C. Thomson ("Copycat" for Magic, and "Digby the Human Mole" for Plug) and TV Comic ("Nelly and her Telly").

In 1981, Allen began drawing his best known strip, "Pub Dog" for the Daily Express and, later, the Evening News. Allen's newspaper work in the 1980s and 1990s included "King Kat" in the Daily Star, "One Boy and His Dog" in the News of the World and "Rocky Starr" in People Magazine. He was also briefly the political cartoonist for Robert Maxwell's London Daily News.

Already a prolific illustrator of books (many of them featuring animals and nature), in the 1990s Allen established himself as a caricaturist of politicians and others in the Daily Express.

Some of Graham Allen's work on Please Sir is available for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.

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