Tuesday 5 April 2011

Embleton At The Court of King Arthur

Apropos of my previous posting, work is progressing on my tree-house, but ever so slowly and my local gentleman's outfitters are selling trilbys with feathers a la Count Arthur Strong, fedoras are conspicuous by their absence.

But what the hell, here following on from John Wigman's excellent post on Steve Holland's Bear Alley is the complete sequence of artworks for a Playhour adaptation of King Arthur he produced prior to Wulf the Briton. I was under the impression that the adaptation only spanned three weeks, I was wrong it was in fact five weeks and shows a much more stylized treatment than he would eventually employ on Wulf.

Ron Embleton did say of Wulf  that it could have been a lot more stylized than it eventually became, and aside from a lightness of content aimed at a much more juvenile market than Wulf was catering for,  in the pages of King Arthur you can get a hint of the much tighter and more decorative handling of figure work which was also apparent during the first few weeks of Wulf the Briton before the style that dominated his handling of the strip eventually evolved in all it's power and majesty.

All images © Look and Learn 2011


  1. Sometimes I find it hard not to see comparisons between the British comics scene in the late 50s and early 60s and the exalted world of the Italian Renaissance. In both cases it seems to me that there were a number of supremely gifted artists whose ambition was constantly spurred on to new heights by eachother's achievements. In particular I imagine Ron Embleton and Frank Bellamy striving to outdo each new masterpiece that issued from their rival's drawing board, almost like Leonardo and Michelangelo duelling with paint and brush on the walls of Florence.

    It's fascinating to think that while Ron was depicting the boyhood of Arthur in the pages of Playhour Frank was illustrating his later reign as King for Swift, and when Frank went on to produce his take on Robin Hood there, Ron was already drawing Strongbow for Mickey Mouse Weekly and would soon go on to draw three Robin Hood books of his own. Similarly it's quite exhilarating to see them both moving into colour with Ron throwing down the gauntlet in Playhour and Frank picking it right up with 'The Happy Warrior' in Eagle. I guess the jury's still out on who was the eventual winner in this titanic battle - especially as both artists were taken from us well before their time: one might as well ask whether Wulf or Heros would have prevailed if their paths had ever crossed!

    It's great to see 'The Story of the Boy King Arthur' presented in full by the way. The Look & Learn site really is a fantastic resource, with all sorts of treasures on display for the discerning Embleton fan (though it has to be said it's not without the occasional error - for example, some of Ron's panels from 'Aladdin' are wrongly attributed to Angus McBride, who only took over the strip with the third episode).

  2. By the way, having just collected my copy of the Complete Embleton Wulf (appropriately enough Parcelforce left it at the same shop I used to buy copies of TV Express and Boys' World from during the early 60s!) I thought your blog's readers might be interested in my completely unbiased review.

    Whatever they may have heard, taking everything into account and allowing for all the hyperbolic claims that writers and publishers are apt to make, I have to say that....it isn't all *that* bad!!! :-/


    ...I mean, obviously we knew all along it could never be as spectacular as a mint condition Spider-Man no.1 (that'd be silly!). Being realistic, though, I reckon it's fair to rank it alongside less earth-shattering items.

    ...Stuff like the Holy Grail or a Gutenberg Bible maybe.

    So, on the whole, it's OK. I guess.

    ...Er, sorry I couldn't be more effusive Peter, but I'm afraid us northerners just aren't any good at the hard sell! ;-)

  3. Phil, if I had a sword (it would of course have to an ancient Brit sword) I'd throw myself on to it.

    But Gutenberg Bibles and Holy Grails are pretty good second bests, I suppose.

    It's just so good to hear feedback from people as the books finally arrive at their doorsteps.

    The one comment everyone seems to make is just how massive the book is and that is one thing that we were not able to convey on the web.