Wednesday 16 March 2011

The English Civil War - Ron Embleton's Artistry At It's Peak!!!

Artwork doesn't get any more exciting than these paintings which Ron Embleton created during his amazing first few years working for Leonard Matthew's Look and Learn. Matthews like Embleton was a man of extraordinary vision and drive. He wanted the very best artists and writers for his brainchild, but even he was blown off his feet when he saw these paintings.

There were a total of six paintings that Embleton created for this series, all six have survived, but for some strange reason one of them has still yet to be scanned.

However I can at least share the following examples with you including the truly amazing full color Battle of Marston Moor, which also features in Ron Embleton's Wulf the Briton The Complete Adventures, which should be arriving on these shores the end of next week.

As with yesterday's selection, all these painting were created by Ron in a really loose and lively manner.
Look closely and you will see the biro under-drawing showing through. The monochrome examples are especially effective, with the black ink creating an almost sepia effect on the off white paper which with the detail picked out in whites and greys, the titanium content of the white paint giving a very cool bluey grey contrast.

Simply superb!!!

I hope Georges (whose English is much better than my French) will enjoy this post as much as I have in bringing it to you all.

All images © 2005-2011 Look and Learn


  1. Very nice and impressive art work.

  2. It's a tribute to Ron's amazing speed and work ethic that, though he found great success as one of Look & Learn's most prolific illustrators (and latterly with his popular prints of historical subjects) he still managed to pursue a full-time career as a comic strip artist as well. Thus, during Look and Learn's second year, he not only found time to produce what I still consider to be his masterpiece "Wrath of the Gods' for Boys' World, but also his little-seen adaptation of 'Children of the New Forest' for Princess (in which he got another chance to display his knowledge of the English Civil War period).

  3. Actually I've never even seen Ron's "Children of the New Forest", Phil - apart from one page and that was light years ago.

    Do you actually this masterpiece in your collection?

  4. It's easy to see why Ron was so popular with commissioning editors. While artists such as Frank Hampson and Frank Bellamy tended to need help in producing two colour pages a week he always seemed capable of knocking off an extra illustration however large his regular workload became. One can imagine the sort of request that led to this extracurricular item from Boys' World no.2 during that magical year of 1962:

    "Hi Ron. I know you've got your hands full at the moment with the latest full-colour centrespread for our new 'Wrath of the Gods' series, not to mention your usual educational stuff for Len's Look & Learn, but we've just discovered there's a blank space on this week's page three and we wondered if you'd mind doing a quick sketch of Julius Caesar and 500 legionaries on the bank of a surging river. All the Best, The Editor."

    I don't know if you've included the above image in your Complete Wulf Peter, but I couldn't resist uploading it to give Georges and other potential buyers an indication of the sort of spectacle they can look forward to! :-)

    (Incidentally, can anyone work out Caesar's real-life solution to this sticky problem?)

  5. ...On 'Children of the New Forest' I only have a couple of episodes not the complete run. If I can find them I'll try to upload a sample page. To be honest I wouldn't rate it among his best work as it seems to be aimed at more of a 'nursery' level readership, as were his first colour strips in Playhour. It does, however, display his technical versatility by employing captions with their own b&w illustrations in a way that is curiously reminiscent of the distinctive technique Carmine Infantino devised for DC Comics' 'Strange Sports' title. A clear case of great minds thinking alike!

  6. (By the way, that Boys' World illustration wasn't from 1962 as I said but 1963 - a year when Philip Larkin was also famously involved in a variety of extracurricular activities!)

    - Phil the Shameless Monopolizer of Other People's Blogs :-/

  7. I didn't include that picture of the legions and the surging river in the Wulf book, Phil.

    Partly (ahem) because it's by Gerry rather than Ron Embleton.

    Have a closer look at those legionaries struggling in the river, particularly the ones with bare heads. Look at the line work, the pose of the figure in the very bottom right hand corner as he comes out of the water.

    There's a few more bits and some covers that he did for Boy's World, one of which is really close to Ron's work but is still (imo) Gerry.

  8. georges RAMAIOLI17 March 2011 at 14:32

    Peter ! if you cause me, i'm obliged to intervene !!!
    Oh yes, those illustrations please, please me..
    I had seen them in the "LOOK and LEARN" site
    but here i can zoom on it and discovered the work
    of construction of the drawind in tranparency under
    the colored inks..Its fabulous..
    Also the beauty of the work with only sepia, pale blue
    and white..The reflections on the helmets, armors, metals
    a speciality of RON, already present in his design of "WULF"
    Wow !!!
    The water traitment, simple and effective... Many thanks !!

    PHIL : I knwone the drawings of CARLOS ROUME but not his name
    never mentionned in french reprints..Yes a very good one
    with the horses..I feel HUGO PRATT was very inspired by
    his works with OESTERHELD...
    I can't open the illustration of "CEASAR"..
    I know one on "LOOK and LEARN" on the shores of Britain..
    If a day you'll can see the work of J-Y MITTON in his drawings
    of CEASAR tentatives to conquest the Britain..It is strong too
    not light beer !!! But not as wonderful as the job of RON..
    I have many of his roman's illustrations.. in "HADRIAN WALL"
    "The Armour of Roman Legions" " What they Wore on HADRIAN WALL"
    Really a great work.. of precision, spectacular and ethnologist..
    Thats (and his native americans)make me dream many years..

    I own just 4 or 5 double pages of "WRATH of the GODS" how many
    make the complete story ? Thank you !!!!

  9. Georges many thanks for your kind words, there were 23 episodes of Wrath of the Gods by Ron and scripted by Willie Paterson before Ron handed over the strip to John Burns.

    It was on this strip that John Burns style really came together, definite influence of Jim Holdaway but he made the work his own.

    I still much prefer Ron's work on Wrath of the Gods, but John Burns has continued to get better and better and some of the work he is doing at the moment is his best work ever.

  10. P.S. the 23 episodes of Wrath that Embleton drew were a self contained complete story but left the way open for more adventures of Arion and his friends.

  11. Don't keep us in suspense, Phil! How did Caesar get across?

    I particularly like those near-monochrome images. You can feel the chill in the air as those boatmen scull across the water!

  12. Dave: here's Caesar's solution (with a diagram that may or may not have been drawn by Gerry, Ron or Uncle Tom Cobley & All)

    Georges: Have you tried cutting and pasting the links into your browser's address bar?

    Peter: I know Gerry's work is often misattributed to his brother (there's at least one glaring example on the Book Palace Gallery!), but while I did wonder about this piece I'm still slightly more inclined to give it to Ron. The B&W drawings in Boys' World no.3 are certainly his work. No offence but unless you have proof from Gerry himself or Longacre's records we'll probably have to agree to disagree on this.

    - Darn! Looking at it again some bits *do* look like Gerry so I could well be wrong. On the other hand I seem to remember that they occasionally worked together so I guess we could both be right...

  13. Blimey, those Romans were smart. We could do with a few of them around these days.

  14. ...On the other hand if you've read Robert Harris' 'Lustrum' yet I wouldn't be so sure Dave. His depiction of Julius Caesar as a coldly calculating megalomaniac is frighteningly convincing: someone so sharp, in fact, it's a wonder he didn't stab himself...!

  15. georges RAMAIOLI17 March 2011 at 22:28

    I succeded to open the link...It is not the illustration i though..
    Ceasar on the shores of britain in full colors..
    I have this one and the book and the solution in P.27 !!!
    BOYS'S WORLD 2 February 1963 Vol .I N°2..
    I had not considered this illustration for a "RON" work..
    Certainly his brother's one...But it is true sometimes the
    younger help his brother..The horses looks like RON
    but not really the legionaries...And more, but in 1963 we don't
    know really that the armors at the time of Ceasar were not
    "lorica segmentata"..
    The designe seems a "montage" of two parts..line drawing
    for before plan and characters and painting for the back ground..
    It is good..But i doubt it is a "RON"...
    Good night !!!