28th Jan 1961 Jack and Jill
cover art by Hugh McNeill
Nursery titles like HHOP, Playhour, Jack & Jill, Bimbo, Once Upon a Time, etc. had some fantastic free gifts and were amongst the most successful comics ever published; what's more I suspect they would have been the first type of comic most of us read (or at least owned) - in spite of which they are very rarely collected today. The trouble is that adults only tend to retain a handful of impressionistic memories from infancy. To my mind this is a great shame as these titles didn't only contain work by artists such as Bill Ritchie, Hugh McNeill, Ron Embleton and Don Lawrence, whose work is well-known from publications aimed at older readers, but also some equally remarkable art by people who are now all-but forgotten because they specialized in the nursery market throughout their career. One example of the latter group is the amazing Peter Woolcock whom I'd rate alongside Carl Barks and Reg Parlett as a true master of the humorous comic strip - yet wonderful pieces of his original artwork from the 1950s and 1960s can be acquired for next to nothing today!
Here, for instance, are a couple of panels I picked up from the Birmingham International Comics Convention on Saturday for just £1 each:
...To see how phenomenally good he was one only has to look at the skill with which he added the incidental background characters in these enlarged details from the above scenes:
A brilliant artist - one of the very best in fact. IMHO It would be criminally unjust to ignore him just because he only drew for the very young!
- Phil Rushton
Thanks phil for bringing it to our attention..Peter