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, December 29, 2010

R. B. Davis

Reginald Ben Davis had a lengthy career at Amalgamated Press and Fleetway Publications as one of their top illustrators. Born in Wandsworth on 10 December 1907, it seems likely that Davis began his commercial career in around 1930 and it is known that he was represented by Byron Studios prior to the Second World War.

It seems likely that he began drawing for boys' or girls' story papers during the war, or perhaps shortly after the war during the period of paper rationing when work was thin on the ground. Some of his earliest work is associated with boys' writer Edward R. Home-Gall as he illustrated covers for Home-Gall's Panmure Press publications and both of the author's collectable novels featuring The Human Bat. Around the same time he began working for the newly launched School Friend, drawing one of their most popular strips, 'Jill Crusoe'. Jill Blair was from a long line of castaways, although in this instance she had been travelling to Australia when the ship she was on was wrecked in the Indian Ocean; Jill found herself the lone, exhausted survivor on a small island that turns out to be far from deserted.

Davis was to be associated with the strip for five years, the various stories subsequently reprinted in various comics, including June and Princess amongst others, in the 1960s. For School Friend he also drew 'Jon of the Jungle', 'Lost in Red Man's Land', 'The Riddle of Beacon Heights' and various other strips, the most popular of which was probably 'Kay of Cedar Creek' which ran for sixteen months in 1957-58.

Davis also contributed to the girls' pocket libraries, beginning with covers for early issues of Schoolgirls' Picture Library beginning in 1957; he also provided interior artwork for Princess Picture Library, School Friend Picture Library and Schoolgirls' Picture Library (including two episodes of the popular Zanna jungle girl series).

His work in girls' comics became more irregular in the 1960s, although he had a lengthy association with Fleetway's June drawing one-off strips ('The Strangest Stories Ever Told', 'Pony Tales'), the occasional strip ('Speed-Girl Julie') and illustrations for stories. Instead, the bulk of his output from 1963 on was a complete change in direction as Davis proved himself to be a master of wildlife illustration, painting beautiful covers and illustrations for Treasure, the educational magazine for the very young.

He was to be associated with Treasure for almost the whole of the magazine's existence; towards the end of Treasure's run (it folded in 1971), he also began working for Look and Learn, his first work appearing in the 1960s but more regularly from 1970 and including the back cover feature, 'Life in Nature' in 1971.

Davis continued to contribute to Look and Learn, mostly series like 'Nature's Notebook' and 'Nature's Kingdom', and was with the paper until its end in 1982. He also illustrated wildlife features for Once Upon a Time and contributed to a number of books, including Let's Look at Forestry by Ivor Lewer (F. Warne, 1967), Be a Nature Detective by Maxwell Knight (F. Warne, 1968), Animal Partnerships by Maurice Buxton (F. Warne, 1969), Colour Identification Guide to british Butterflies by T. G. Howarth (F. Warne, 1973), Snakes by Valerie Pitt (F. Watts, 1973), Flying Creatures by Patricia Gray (F. Watts, 1973), Slow Creatures by Patricia Gray (F. Watts, 1974), Ants by Diana Ferguson (Macdonald, 1974), Swimming Mammals by Patricia Gray (F. Watts, 1976), The Observer's Book of Wild Flowers by Francis Rose (F. Warne, 1978), The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose (Penguin, 1981) and Colour Identification Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and North-Western Europe by Francis Rose (Viking, 1989).

He died in December 1998 in Alton, Hampshire.

Examples of Davis's artwork can be found for sale here.

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