Comic Art screenprints by John Patrick Reynolds
I’ve read comics all my life, since the 1960s, when I practically learned to read with them. The Rover was my first love – an adventure comic which was all-text. Every week it held stirring stories about everything from cyclists in the Tour de France to soldiers in The Second World War. The paper it was printed on was uncoated newsprint – I loved the way it felt in my hands. It was also well designed – I loved the way it looked, and loved the pictures.
Now I’m a screenprinter. I discovered about 15 years ago that comics were a perfect fit for screenprinting. The medium is good at producing flat vivid colour and bold outline – just right for the stylised nature of comics.
Soon after that, I was lucky enough to be the first screenprinter to gain permission from Britain’s top comic publisher, DC Thomson, to use its fabulous archive of images in my screenprints. So I am the first to produce screenprints of such icons as Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and my old favourite from The Rover (and then The Victor), Alf Tupper, The Tough Of The Track – and I’m proud of that.
All the images – or versions of them – have started life in comics. I present the panels or details of panels to be appreciated in their own right, independently of the stories they spring from and were created for.
You’ll find images from several categories of comic:
- British classics from the UK’s top comic publisher DC Thomson, including such icons as Dennis the Menace, Desperate Dan, Minnie the Minx and the Bash St Kids from The Beano and The Dandy.
- American stars Popeye and Olive Oyl
- Scottish favourites Oor Wullie and The Broons, also from DC Thomson, but this time The Sunday Post
- Boys’ own adventure heroes
- French creations Asterix, Obelix and the hound Dogmatix.
The paper I’ve used is cotton, mould-made paper milled in Somerset – I use a soft paper which soaks up the ink. It also reminds me a bit of the old newsprint that British comics used to be printed on.
I usually produce editions in three formats – from 19x26cms to 38x48cms and 56x76cms. I am also happy to print commissions.
I hope you enjoy browsing the site.
Popeye is another comic character who proves ideal material for bold, fresh screenprints. The character was originally printed in America either in black and white or in newspaper half-tones, but the screenprinting medium’s strength is in bright, flat colours and Elzie Segar’s creation proves an ideal subject for this treatment.
I have enjoyed hunting through the Popeye archives to find the material for simple, bold images with intriguing speech bubbles to print in striking colours. I hope you enjoy the results.
As far as I can tell, these are the only screenprints of Popeye available, although Andy Warhol did use the character in the early 1960s.
Dennis the Menace and Gnasher
Dennis the Menace is a gift to the screenprinter: his spikey black hair and red-and-black jumper make for dramatic pictures. Gnasher – a wire-haired Abyssinian tripe hound – entered the scene on 31 August 1968. It is if he is made of the same stuff as Dennis’s hair. And just as Dennis’s hair symbolises the boy’s wildness, so Gnasher is wild. His anthropomorphism is endearing, though.
He is also an icon: one of Britain’s most recognisable fictional characters – the British Bart Simpson or Tin Tin or Asterix – and so there’s an extra power to the prints: classic images as they’ve never been seen before.
The Menace first appeared in The Beano (1938-present) in March 1951. His wild hair was there from the start, and his signature red and black jumper – a football strip – was introduced within a few weeks. Gnasher (the Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound) joined him in 1968.
I am the the first and only British screenprinter to have permission from French publisher Editions Albert Rene to use their archive of images for my work.
Asterix first appeared in 1959 and 35 books drawn by Albert Uderzo and written by Rene Goscinny were published until 2010, although new titles are now being issued with new writers and draftsmen.
The official website can be found here http://www.asterix.com/
© Editions Albert Rene
Boys own and adventure
These images are from the great British tradition of boys’ own comics, especially The Victor and Commando!, which is still being published today. They are stories of adventure and daring and inspired generations of British children from the late 19th century onwards.
Alf Tupper, aka The Tough of the Track, is one of my personal favourites. He first appeared in The Rover (1922-1973) in 1949 and became the flagship character in The Victor (1961-1992). He trains on the canalside, works as a welder, lives under the railway arches and loves fish and chips. Tupper embodies honest guts and is always fighting snobs and cheats against apparently impossible odds. His emblem, often printed on the front of his running vest, is the lone wolf. The Tough has inspired generations of middle-distance and long-distance runners such as Ron Hill, who represented Britain in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics and was world record holder at various distances. Ron Hill’s home page.