Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Wild Wild West and Ron Embleton

As I mention in the forthcoming book (it's due to arrive very shortly on these shores!)  Wulf The Briton The Complete Adventures, after Ron Embleton moved to Bournemouth towards the end of his tenure on Wulf the Briton, he was keen to develop new techniques and explore new areas of expressing his amazing artistry.

Within a very short space of time he was working for Leonard Matthews who was keen to launch an educational weekly aimed at children. Look and Learn which debuted in 1961 provided Embleton with the ideal vehicle to further his passion for recreating history, whilst developing his painting technique.

Some of the work that he created in those early years of Look and Learn represent not only his finest paintings but also some of the greatest historical artworks ever produced.

Amongst his many spheres of interest was the American West, something which he'd been depicting from the outset of his career and the following examples are, I think you'll agree, nothing short of stunning.

For those of you into the technique that Embleton applied to work like this, his friend and near neighbor Andrew Skilleter described to me the way he would with these particular paintings, create an amazingly vigorous under-drawing using red and blue biros (of all things!) and then apply washes of ink, building up areas of shade and then dropping in color. The finer details would then be picked out in opaque body paint. As he told the young artist, one evening as he literally created a painting before his very eyes, "As an artist you need a formula".

Embleton's formula was always open to development and experimentation but it was certainly strong enough as was his knowledge of form and anatomy to allow him free reign to share his vivid imagination with an audience far beyond the confines of his Bournemouth studio.

All images © 2005-2011 Look and Learn

5 comments:

  1. georges RAMAIOLI16 March 2011 at 05:16

    Thanks again...
    Sure i known the pages of "BIGGLES" printed in France..Some illustrations books about "the West" but i never find those one about
    "The SIOUX".. A friend of mine François CORTEGGIANI, writer of
    youngness of BLUEBERRY, described me a poster of RON which he looked
    on a room of the editor of "LANCE" by Warren TUFTS.. The Assault of a fort by the HURONS...I dreamed about till i see it by internet !!!
    Thanks to post those illustrations about "WEST" an other with the
    "Epic" of my "Domain of predilection"...
    The Epic, i had written with the pseudo of SIMON ROCCA was named
    "VAE VICTIS" ed SOLEIL.The designer is one of the best in France
    JEAN-YVES MITTON...
    About me...http://georgesramaioli.blogspot.com
    I'm boiling in pression of impatience to see the "WULF" book...
    I have all the page in french..But I'm sure there were many inedits
    and surprise and a look really better than the one printed in
    "Intrepide Hurrah"
    please, excuse me for my poor english and thank you again..

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  2. Gosh Georges, 'Vae Victis' looks wonderful - do you know if it has been translated into English?

    Sadly the UK produces very little material like this nowadays, but during the 1950s and 1960s Ron Embleton's Wulf was only one of several British comic strips set in Roman times - the most notable of the others being 'Heros the Spartan' drawn by Frank Bellamy and Luis Bermejo, and 'Olac the Gladiator' drawn by Don Lawrence, Ruggero Giovannini and Gerry Embleton - both of which were huge influences on me as a young boy.

    As for Ron's Western strips, my own personal favorite would have to 'Roger's Rangers' - a historical subject that fascinated him so much he tackled it twice: once in the pages of Mickey Mouse Weekly in 1953, then again almost twenty years later for Look & Learn.

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  3. More information on Georges phenomenal work can be found here:

    http://lambiek.net/artists/r/ramaioli_g.htm

    and here:

    http://georgesramaiolibiographie.blogspot.com/

    Incroyable!!!

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  4. georges RAMAIOLI16 March 2011 at 17:42

    Just an answer...I don't want ti parasitize that wonderful blog...

    Thanks PETER to had a look at my prolific but not always successfull
    production...Too..too much figths with the editors...But it was an other story....

    As i know, only 2 issues of my serie "ZOULOULAND " have been translated in English by an editor in CAPE TOWN South Africa..
    VAE VICTIS exist in French (of course) Italian, German and Neerland..
    I know all the series mentionned by Phil..Some only by few issues
    of EAGLE, LOOK and LEARN, BOY'S WORLD in can find..In the last
    century, it was very difficult to find foreign books..
    Now, with Internet, it is a children's play ground !!
    FRANK BELLAMY drawn fantastic pages..I discovered him in french
    'PILOTE" (Comic book of ASTERIX..approximatively same looking
    than EAGLE)..With FRASER of AFRICA..Amazing colors !! and "The
    life of WINSTON CHURCHILL" I have some double pages of "HEROS
    the SPARTAN" but not enought for reading the story well..
    "OLAC THE GLADIATOR" was printed in France as a pocket comic
    book..I know only 2 issues designed by GERRY EMBLETON
    Many of them are from RUGGERO GIOVANNINI...Some was made in
    France when they had no british material, designed by a late friend
    PIERRE DUPUIS....This serie his the prefered of a very good friend of
    mine MICHEL ELOY a great, great specialist of antic world..
    He has the most beautiful site about the "peplum"
    PEPLUM-IMAGES DE L'ANTIQUITE ..He is Bulge, he worked with
    JACQUES MARTIN (ALIX)..
    RUGGERO GIOVANNINI was a very good designer, very quick..
    his work on "OLAC" was better than the design on "WULF" who
    disapointed me..In Italy, RUGGERO works on many comics
    and superb plates in colors on "IL VITTORIOSO"..Some was
    reprinted in "SPIROU"...
    I've also met DON LAWRENCE at ANGOULEME and AMSTERDAM
    We worked for the same editor GLENAT..He was very well known in france
    for his work on "STORM" and "TRIGAN" ..I don't had a very good
    exchange because i can't speak easealy english..And i said that
    i prefer his old works.. "WELLS FARGO" and "SWORDS of the SEA
    WOLVES" (ERIC le VIKING in France)..Perhaps him not ?
    I know also some "SHEPHERD KING" and "MARCO POLO" by
    BELLAMY and "THE ROAD of COURAGE" by F.HAMPSON but my
    preference always was RON !!! And i could also read the story
    of "WULF" (ROCK) in french and in the majority of my stories
    the theme is the same..The resistance of a free people to an
    powerfull and opressive invader...
    Certainly RON was a foreign master for me and a constant "source
    of inspiration"...by his marvellous design and colours...
    I've seen just only some pages of "DON'O THE DRUMS" and the
    plates of "ROGER'S RANGERS" in color in "LOOK and LEARN"..
    'I had tryed also to tell the story of ROGERS, but the designer don't
    liked old stories, old dumb films (NORTHWEST PASSAGE !!! VIDOR'S
    masterpiece) et dont wan't make efforts and searching on the period
    and costumes..The series was interrompted and was the worst echec
    of my "carreer"..
    Sorry to be so long..And good continuation for your blog and job..

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  5. I'm quite sure that Peter is only too pleased with the added value your comments are bringing to his excellent blog Georges!

    I completely agree that Rugerro Giovannini's later work on Olac was much more impressive than his version of Wulf. For some reason the black & white reproduction (which had also been used for his earlier adaptation of the Iliad in The Children's Newspaper) seemed to suit his style rather better, allowing him to produce some amazingly powerful 'splash' panels (not sure what the French term for that would be!). In my opinion Olac also benefited from some remarkably literate scripts (thought to have been written by Willie Paterson of Jeff Hawke and Wrath of the Gods fame) which displayed a solid grasp of genuine historical events.

    Incidently, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fourth great Olac artist Carlos Roume - another illustrator who deserves a whole website of his own, and one of the best depictors of horses in the history of the comic strip.

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