Monday, 6 September 2010

PINOCCHIO ON THE COVERS OF BRITAIN'S MICKEY MOUSE WEEKLY IN 1940


While Pinocchio had made its British debut on the cover of Mickey Mouse Xmas Special published in late 1939, the puppet-boy made its first appearance on the covers of the regular Mickey Mouse Weekly with no. 217 (dated March 30th, 1940) which marked the start of the reformatted serialization of the US 'Pinocchio' Sunday newspaper comics in this British magazine. The artwork of the cover was by Victor Ibbetson who had been on the staff of MMW since its early days in 1936 and was responsible for several covers after the main cover artist Wilfred Haughton left circa 1939 (Prior to his employment in MMW, he had worked in animated short cartoons by Roland Davies based on Davies' newspaper strip 'Come On, Steve'.) As can be seen in the above scan, Ibbetson's rendition of Mickey Mouse is rather substandard, not to mention the awkwardness in the sizes of the featured characters.
On the other hand, the below cover from no. 226 (June 1st, 1940), whose artist is unknown, is quite good-looking in terms of art, and the design, with the panels of the featured Donald Duck strip pasted on the fish bowl, is imaginative.

This copy was recently sold on ebay for app. 17 Br. pounds (app. 26 US dlrs); alas, having gone almost bankrupt after a summer vacation, I couldn't afford to top the highest bid... However, I still dared to snatch the below no. 228 (June 15th, 1940) for app. 13 Br. pounds (app. 21 US dlrs):
In my opinion, this is one of the most creative MMW covers ever with the very meaningful integration of the featured strip into the main illustration. The artist is again unknown, but I suspect Basil Reynolds' hand as he is known to have made similar cover works, with diegetic integration of strips into his own art, in post-war MMW issues.
The below cover of no. 235 (Aug. 3rd, 1940), on the other hand, is average and might again be the work of Ibbetson:
By the end of October 1940, both Reynolds and Ibbetson would be drafted for the 2d World War and the British art chores of MMW would be handed over to Ernest Richardson, the younger brother of Charles Richardson, a collaborator of Ibbetson from his animation days.
The info on the backgrounds of the artists is derived from Basil Reynolds' memoirs, which were kindly made accessable to me by John Wigmans.

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