Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Peter Woolcock was born and raised in Argentina, and worked his passage on a cargo boat to England in 1953 in order to find work as an artist. He went from interview to interview and eventually arrived at the doors of the Amalgamated Press, where, he says, he was seen by the wrong man. Five months later he was persuaded to try them again and was immediately offered work by Leonard Matthews.
He created the frog character 'Anthony Rowley' (named after the Frog who went a-wooing), but the name was changed and, as 'The Funny Tales of Freddie Frog' it began appearing in Jack and Jill in 1954. Woolcock was to draw the strip — with a break in the late 1950s/early 1960s — until 1969. This was not his longest-running strip. In 1955, he drew the hugely popular 'The Wind in the Willows' for Playhour which came to an end a year later. Woolcock revived the character of Mr. Toad in Harold Hare's Own Paper in 1959, and continued to draw that character for Harold Hare's Own and Playhour for 25 years. (Woolcock had drawn an earlier, similar character called Toby Toad for Playhour.)
Woolcock was kept incredibly busy for 38 years, his strips and illustrations appearing in Tiny Tots, Film Fun, Look and Learn, Treasure, Disneyland Magazine, Toby, Dickory Dock and Storyland. He retired from drawing strips in 1987.
Woolcock has lived in England, Spain and, since 1981, in Bermuda where, since 1983, he has become one of the island's leading humour and political cartoonists. Some of his early work has been exhibited at the Bermudan National Gallery and many of his cartoons for the Royal Gazette have been collected in the annual Peter Woolcock's Woppened for many years, the 23rd collection appearing in 2011. He has also illustrated children's books, including The Turtle Who Ate a Balloon (2007) and The Adventures of Bermuda's Toad with One Eye (2008).
Examples of Peter Woolcock's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.