Dudley Watkins Centenary

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Kashgar
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Kashgar »

This month sees the 100th anniversary of Dudley Watkins birth and I thought it appropriate to open up this strand in order to discuss all things DDW. And let me nail my colours to the mast from the off 'Is Dudley Watkins the greatest comic artist that Britain has ever produced?' 'Of course he is!'

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Peter Gray
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Peter Gray »

Dudley was great.he really filled up each box....he could convey so much without any words.......Biffo...Ginger...Desperate Dan...Lord Snooty..Mickey the monkey...Oor Wullie...The Broons..Jimmy and his magic patch...Tom Thumb...Peter Piper...Our Gang (loved to see more of those).......I am amazed at his output!!....they are works of art.....and many of his characters are still popular today...amazing...

I love his surrealness...and the impossible in his early work...his interset of far off lands.....and his knowledge of medieval times was super also his history...a bit lacking in comics today.he showed how exciting and really brought it too life...

There should be a whole book about his work...

I will one day do a website on him...as well as David Law,,,

Lew maybe you could mention the 100 on your blog and your views of Dudley

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Re: Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Lew Stringer »

Peter Gray wrote:
Lew maybe you could mention the 100 on your blog and your views of Dudley
Excellent suggestion Peter.

Lew
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Cap Haggis
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Cap Haggis »

I adore Ken Reid (my personal fav) and Leo Baxendale's work but Dudley D Watkins (DDW) - I have to admit, was just something special . He could do it all, children's humour, nursery humour and adventure strips - I don't think I have ever seen a poor DDW strip in all my years of reading comics. I was brought up on DDW 's work via the "Sunday Post" (then a paper almost everyone in Scotland seemed to read) and of course the Beano , Dandy, Topper and Beezer etc. Simply loved DDWs drawings of "feasts" all those lollypops, sumptuous puddings and cakes not to mention cow pies - always had a giggle at the way he drew characters (most notably "Ginger" and "Oor Wullie") chewing on a sweetie straight from the poke (a paper bag for those in England, NI and Wales) the sweetie lodged firmly in his/her cheek lie a massive abcess and the character looking like he/she was in heaven with the simple pleasure of it all - he just got it so right thats how kids are. His ease at switching between human and animal characters (Mickey the Monkey, Biffo etc) was also pretty amazing. It's strange to look back at his work now, once the template (with Leo Baxendale) for how a UK comic should be drawn his work now looks very surreal and new (always fresh) like the art on some of the European and US undergrounds (but done so much better) - As you may have gathered I liked his work.
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SH
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by SH »

I had the pleasure once of seeing a ton of original desperate Dans he'd drawn. I walked into the dandy office and they were all under someone's table and I'm talking piles and piles of them. Anyway I plonked myself down and had a good old look at them. One of my most favourite DCT moments.
I'm sure you know that when he drew the funny strops like snooty and such he pretty much went straight down in ink , pretty amazing huh!

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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Kashgar »

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dudley Watkins, to me and I'm sure to many others, the best British comic artist of all time. In the 44 years that he worked for D C Thomson in Dundee what made him so special? To me, putting it simply, it was the diversity of his talent and the fact that he could use his excellence in one artistic discipline to enhance the effect he sought to achieve in another. No artist, before or since has been able to put so much character into his comic work or so many light comic touches into his adventure strip work where necessary.
And then, in tandem with his talent, there was the sheer artistic prolificness of the man which at times would see him drawing up to seven or more comic pages a week, week in week out, for years on end.
In all his work Dudley had two particular favourites who outshone the rest and who he never got tired of drawing, they were Oor Wullie and Desperate Dan, two characters who appealed to him for vastly different reasons.
Dan was Dudley's chance to explore the surreal and the downright bizarre in a comic strip as he expertly interpreted the scripts written by Dandy editor, and close neighbour, Albert Barnes. While in Wullie Dudley revelled
in creating a world any boy would be happy to live in. In fact according to his wife, the late Doris Watkins, on the rare occasions that he would call her over to his desk to see a finished strip it would invariably be an Oor Wullie strip she'd find lying there. 'I think Dudley liked Wullie so much because, whatever age we are in years, he represented the child in us all, not least in himself.'
Oor Wullie Factfile - In 33 years Dudley Watkins drew 1745 Oor Wullie strips, never missing a single week. A feat he matched exactly with The Broons.
Desperate Dan Factfile - In 32 years Dudley Watkins completed 1608 Desperate Dan strips. 1438 for the Dandy comic, 155 for the Dandy Book and 15 for the Dandy Summer Special. There was a uncompleted Desperate Dan strip on Dudley's desk when he died suddenly of a heart attack in August 1969.
Dudley Watkins, a true original and still the best!

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colcool007
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by colcool007 »

While Ian Kennedy is, to me, the pinnacle of comic artists, I cannot helped but be awed by the phenomenal output and ability of Dudley D Watkins. The only current artist that can keep up with his (DDW) work-rate is Steve Dillon.

The last original DDW published was when I was one, so for me, I have had to discover his skill with the pen through re-print or through the purchase of the odd early Annual.

I feel that if he had decided to venture into the Popular Art Movement as evinced by Andy Warhol, then he would have been a giant in that Movement.
I started to say something sensible but my parents took over my brain!

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philcom55
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Re: Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by philcom55 »

Kashgar wrote:In 33 years Dudley Watkins drew 1745 Oor Wullie strips, never missing a single week. A feat he matched exactly with The Broons.
How strange! I don't know much about his politics but is it possible that was a deliberate commemoration of Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 Jacobite Rising - the high watermark of Scottish Nationalism prior to the present day?

- Phil Rushton

Cap Haggis
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Cap Haggis »

What an amazing number of pages to draw that must be some sort of record working on those strips non stop (ntil his death) -you are an amazing fountain of knowledge Kashgar, you def should write a book amazing the information you have how do you acces this ? - I would add (tongue in cheek) that the the 1745 Jacobite Rising was not , at the time. an event shared by all Scots ast the Scots fought against Bonnie Prince Charlie as well as for him (it was another religous thing in many ways plus we managed to blame the poor English for it again lol), now Archie Gemmel's goal against Holland in 1978 (and the first deep fried mars bar) they were our real high watermark!
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philcom55
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by philcom55 »

I guess if he drew them until he died then it obviously wasn't any more than a coincidence; but a pretty remarkable one for all that - almost worthy of Ripley! Yes I know that Culloden was more like the culmination of a Scottish Civil War rather than the example of English imperialism it's usually presented as. In spite of that I've always tended to associate Watkins with Wild Young Dirky, whose sympathies were very definitely against the 'invading' redcoats.

In fact, between DC Thomson's Dirky and DC Comics' Tomahawk, as a kid I always used to get pretty confused about who were the good guys and who were the bad guys! :roll:

- Phil Rushton

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philcom55
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by philcom55 »

Incidentally, although I grew up during the 1960s with characters like Desperate Dan and Lord Snooty I've always regretted that I never discovered Oor Wullie and the Broons until much later - especially as I now look upon them as some of Watkins' most impressive creations. Did I suffer from some sort of selective blindness or am I right in thinking that, like the fabled 'Irn Bru', these strips just never appeared South of the border prior to the 1970s? Could it be that somebody at DCT decided we Sassenachs wouldn't be able to understand them...?

- Phil Rushton

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Re: Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Lew Stringer »

philcom55 wrote:Incidentally, although I grew up during the 1960s with characters like Desperate Dan and Lord Snooty I've always regretted that I never discovered Oor Wullie and the Broons until much later - especially as I now look upon them as some of Watkins' most impressive creations. Did I suffer from some sort of selective blindness or am I right in thinking that, like the fabled 'Irn Bru', these strips just never appeared South of the border prior to the 1970s? Could it be that somebody at DCT decided we Sassenachs wouldn't be able to understand them...?

- Phil Rushton

I think you're right Phil. My first introduction to The Broons was when I received one of the books for Christmas in 1971 (or 72). I instantly recognized the work of "the Desperate Dan artist" and eagerly tried to get The Sunday Post afterwards, to no avail. (I used to see it in Blackpool though, but never in the Midlands until several years later. Shops tended to order one or two "for the Scottish customers". Now of course you can find it every Sunday in most areas without fail.)

My first memories of the great Dudley Watkins' artwork were the Desperate Dan strips I read in The Dandy throughout 1964. Those genuinely funny strips were something I looked forward to every Monday. I remember noticing when those strips were reprinted around 1971, and as other artists took over his other strips I think I probably guessed that he'd died.

He certainly died too young, but I'm glad we have such superb work to remember him by. A true giant in the comics industry.

Any news of any tribute by Thomsons? I'd have thought a book collecting various strips with Dan, Broons, and Wullie at the core might be a good seller?

Lew
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by stevezodiac »

I think Desperate Dan stands out above all because unlike his other creations it was such a weird fantasy world (I wonder what Steve Ditko could have done with it). There were so many recurring storylines like the robot teacher (can't remember any others at short notice - please fill in the gaps). I think Charles Griggs drew the strip after he died and did a very good job. As for the Sunday Post the only person who could step in his shoes was Ken Harrison and i'll always regret that he didn't persevere with the strips. The present artist is ok but a bit wishy washy - his lines are too weak and there are no backgrounds. Also with Watkins he was one of the few artists given the honour of having his work published in hardback form. I recently picked up a hardback copy of his Tom Brown's Schooldays - let's not forget those superb versions of classic literature he did on the back of The Topper - beautiful colours too - did he colour them? I think his dilligence is something we will all treasure.

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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by AndyB »

Charlie Grigg drew Dan in the Annuals until the 1980s. Old Dan strips were reprinted in the weekly Dandy from Watkins' death until 1982 when Ken Harrison took over.

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Peter Gray
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Dudley Watkins Centenary

Post by Peter Gray »

[img:361:500]http://www.comicsuk.co.uk/images/covers ... per_20.jpg[/img]

He didn't need words so expressive...and keeps you interested
.....amazing.......the same with the early Biffo..

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