It’s a menace to the spaceways Pete…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s confused film stars are: Weese Ritherspoon and Lurt Bancaster.
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Imagine we are going back in time, to visit Britain in the 1950s. See… Ah, it’s Christmas morning. Little Billy wakes, rubs the sleep from his eyes and gasps as he spots the bulging stocking hanging from his bedpost – look, there’s something big and rectangular and weighty wrapped in cheery green and red holly paper sticking out and distorting the stocking’s shape. He springs up, grabs the stocking, pulls the intriguing shape out inadvertently ejecting a rolling orange and an apple onto the hilly eiderdown. The glossy holly paper crackles and comes off quite easily, to reveal a book, a book with a brightly coloured vista showing some spaceships, some spacemen with strange guns, stars, and planets and things on its front and back covers… Gosh! How super!… Billy cries.
Yes, it was the Lion Annual 1956.

It’s looking a bit battered now though, isn’t it? But then, it is 63 years old! I’m surprised it exists at all. I have been showing you illustrations from this fine but defaced (I think Billy’s little sister Shirley has been at some of the pages with her blue ballpoint pen!) book for a while now.
Today’s piece of art I have chosen is a panel (I think that is the correct term) from page 49 with, ‘Captain Condor Fights the Space Pirates’ by Frank S. Pepper. Unfortunately, and sadly, the people who published the Lion comic and annual didn’t bother crediting their illustrators.
Come on dear reader! Let’s nip up into space for a bit, and see what’s going on!

Pete! Come and look! I’ve picked up the asteroid at last!

Oh, isn’t this great? I love the slight roughness of the print too, I suppose it’s because it was produced on the thick fluffy edged paper that was popular back then. On this photograph the colours have reproduced pretty accurately, although for some reason the white of the paper has come out a light blue-grey. Still, the reds and blues are just as the original. Billy would have loved the brightness and gaudiness of it all.
This is like a Roy Lichtenstein painting, but real – me, I love Roy L’s work. I’d happily live with this one framed on my wall, perhaps enlarged to about a metre square and printed on expensive nice paper – I’d never tire of Captain Condor and Pete’s speech bubbles. Oh, that’s a very nice pair of slacks that Pete’s wearing! I wonder why they’ve both got heavy yellow gauntlets on? Perhaps it’s so they don’t burn their fingers whilst stoking the furnace for the spaceship’s steam boilers…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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3 Responses to It’s a menace to the spaceways Pete…

  1. ktz2 says:

    It amuses me that they made the spaceship captain basically a nautical type captain in his clothing, in particular his cap.

  2. Sharon Mann says:

    I love the adventures and art in the “Lion”. Thanks for the space journey Dave.

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