Wednesday 9 February 2011

War Picture Library - More of the Originals

Just to round off the still extant original art that graced the first twenty covers of War Picture Library, I'm reprising the non De Gaspari's. Here we see Patrick Nicholle's cover for issue 2 with much more landscape than was evident in the published version. This was as far as I know the only cover that Nicholle created for War Picture Library although he did get to draw the contents of issue 88, "Clash of Steel" in his very distinctive clear line pen style.

The remainder of the covers shown here are the work of Septimus Scott who by the this stage in his career was in his late seventies. Following a career as an illustrator with a broad range of clients, he had been coaxed out of retirement by  the visionary Amalgamated Press editor Leonard Matthews where for much of the 1950's  his work dominated Thriller Comics Library. Thriller Comics Library was Matthew's riposte to the U.S. series Classics Comics and provided Scott with a platform to display his superb abilities as a portrait painter with a fabulous feel for the sweep and panoply of historical subject matter.

All images © IPC Media 2011

There are two books showcasing this artwork :

Aarrgghh!! It's War


The Art of War

Both highly recommended!


  1. It's reassuring to see you've been able to maintain the quality of your blog in spite of the disturbing events of Pottergate Peter - in fact, I'd go so far as to say that dropping the reproduction of complete strips has actually added to the appeal for viewers like myself who are lucky enough to own many of them in their printed form!

    I'm particularly pleased to see you spending so much time on the War Libraries which were, as you say, one of the neglected jewels of the British comics scene during the 1960s (though I must admit to something of a personal soft spot for the series characters like Battler Britton, Paddy Payne and Dogfight Dixon). Sometimes it's easy to forget just how much excellent comic-strip material was produced in the first half of that decade: it'd be fascinating to compile a representative collection of all the picture libraries and comics that would have gone on sale in the same month in an average newsagent's (not forgetting the latest batch of US imports and b&w reprints!).

    Speaking of those stunning covers you may be interested to know that in 1964 a number of the Italian artists responsible were also commissioned to produce about a dozen wraparound paintings for some early covers of the comic Hurricane. Although the reproduction of these on common newsprint turned out to be quite blurred they did allow people like Jordi Penalva and Nino Caroselli to work on different subject matter in a more expansive format. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to acquire the original artwork for one of these panoramic scenes which shows the sheer amount of detail they contained. This particular illustration - seemingly the work of Giorgio De Gaspari - depicts a bloody battle in which crusading knights clash with Turkish warriors on the blazing battlements of the fortress of Nicaea. Great stuff!

    If you're interested you should be able to see part of it here:

    (It'd be useful to know if you agree with the attribution to De Gaspari)

    I'd encourage anybody who wants to know more about this unique series to watch out for Steve Holland's upcoming Index of Hurricane and Champion when it goes on sale.

  2. A truly amazing scene Phil and it definitely looks like a De Gaspari. The loose handling of the figures and the way that he sublimates perspective and the relationships of the elements to achieve a greater dynamic are all De Gaspari trademarks.

    But the final clue is the beautiful and loose handling of the background with the white peak of the mountain in the center as the definite De Gaspari flourish.

    I didn't know about the Hurricane covers. Just goes to show Phil, how valuable comments such as yours are.

    Many thanks!