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Is this A E Allen? 
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Joined: 15 May 2018, 19:43
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I had understood that A E Allen was known to be the main artist for the Barbie series in Tina/Princess Tina, so I was surprised recently to see examples of original artwork on two separate sale/auction websites which look to me very much like A E Allen’s work, but which are attributed to an artist called Graeme Thomas. Here are the links:

http://bookpalace.com/acatalog/Graeme_Thomas_Art.html
https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auction-catalogues/mullocks-specialist-auctioneers-and-valuers/catalogue-id-srmu10043/lot-18fe29e4-d047-4771-b7a7-a528010cc63d
https://www.the-saleroom.com/it-it/auction-catalogues/mullocks-specialist-auctioneers-and-valuers/catalogue-id-srmu10004/lot-7a4f89b8-169c-4f51-9e23-a3f70157bdb5

There is a link in an earlier thread about this topic to an article by Ruth Bernardez which names A E Allen as the main Barbie artist, and which seems to be as authoritative as anyone could wish:

http://candela123.blogspot.com/2010/02/candy-modelo-en-apurosbarbie-model-girl.html

One the other hand it seems odd that at least two sellers should make the same mistake in attribution (although The Illustration Art Gallery has got the dating of its samples spectacularly wrong). But either somebody has made a mistake here, or Graeme Thomas has done a phenomenal imitation of A E Allen’s style.

Does anybody know anything about Graeme Thomas? Was he involved in the Barbie series? Have these sellers got it wrong in attributing the work to him? Or, was this perhaps one artist using two different names?


05 Dec 2018, 19:22
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Joined: 23 Aug 2012, 10:41
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It could A E Allen was a pseudonym. It was a common thing for artists and writers to use pseudonyms when credited. And what does the A E stand for anyway? If they are just initials, it would definitely be a pseudonym.


05 Dec 2018, 21:00
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Joined: 23 Aug 2012, 10:41
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Now I’ve taken a look at the links I am not sure it is A E Allen. Unless it is early Allen of course. Another possibility is two artists with a similar style. This has happened too, such as Barrie Mitchell and Jim Eldridge.


06 Dec 2018, 02:37
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Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56
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The A E Allen identification does seem to be pretty widely confirmed, not least on the Lambiek website. The mention of Graeme Thomas confused me for years too but, unless Tammyfan is right about them being different names used by the same artist, I'm now inclined to think that the latter is just a mistake (certainly not the first that Book Palace has been responsible for).


06 Dec 2018, 12:33
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Joined: 15 May 2018, 19:43
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Thank you both for your thoughts.

It’s interesting, Philcom, that you have seen this name crop up over several years. On the face of it, this suggests it’s not just a mistake by these sellers, but a persistent view that an artist called Graeme Thomas was responsible for at least some of the Barbie series. Do you remember any particular places or circumstances where you saw Barbie artwork attributed to him?

I confess I’m struggling to see how this could be either a different artist copying A E Allen’s style, or one with a style similar to his. So much of the work looks exactly like A E Allen’s highly individual style. The panel at bottom left of the page earmarked for Tina #26 (second link above) is very characteristic – Allen had a wonderful repertoire of comic and bizarre faces and this looks very typical. Also, the closeups of Barbie on this page and on Tina #23 and #24 are exactly in his style, as is the drawing of Ken throughout. I think they probably are fairly early. The numbers on the auction house samples are all from Tina, so these must have been printed in 1967. You would therefore expect the style to be a little different from a lot of the work that he did for girls’ comics, such as the stories done for Bunty in the 70’s and 80’s – generally speaking, they look less rough-edged and angular than his later work.

I’m still puzzled by the whole business, but I’m inclined to think myself that whatever the reason for the confusion of names, only one artist is involved.


06 Dec 2018, 20:52
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Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56
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I think it was through the Book Palace that I came across the name Graeme Thomas more than ten years ago, so any error seems to have originated with them (and they're notorious for not making corrections even after they've been given documented proof of a mistake on their site). For what it's worth I'm sure that all the Barbie strips were drawn by the same artist - in fact I actually have a very early piece of Barbie artwork for Tina where the character's name had originally been written in as 'Sindy'. It seems that Fleetway must have switched from the British doll to her American rival shortly before publication!

Incidentally Goof, I'm still slowly reading through my copies of Princess and Princess Tina. At the moment I'm up to 1971 and, apart from the strips that appeared in the last few issues of Girl I still haven't come across any Happy Days reprints yet.


07 Dec 2018, 03:34
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Joined: 15 May 2018, 19:43
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Many thanks Philcom, I think you’ve got the answer. If the Book Palace have been using Graeme Thomas’s name for more than 10 years, their attribution probably pre-dates the identification of A E Allen as the Barbie artist. They have simply carried on using the same name for Barbie art. The auction site (which makes no pretence of vouching for the authenticity of its names) probably picked up the name from the Book Palace samples, which have been on their website for months.

I’m glad that’s been cleared up. I wasn’t looking forward to poring over dozens of Barbie stories, trying to work out who drew what!

Many thanks also for your continuing search for Happy Days reprints. I thought I had found one in 1970, although I don’t know where it was reprinted from. To save confusion, I’ll post about this on the Happy Days thread.


07 Dec 2018, 18:46
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