Saturday, July 07, 2007

'The Bible Story'

Some of you may remember me asking about 3 weeks ago,
"if anyone has any back issues of 'The Bible Story' I'd be very interested", Well, it just so happens that Gill Donaldson from Edinburgh had been clearing out her mothers attic, and came across a complete set of them still in the red and gold binder from when she was a child.

Gill then went onto the internet to search for more information about the magazine, and came across my 'Look & Learn' post!
To cut a long story short, she very kindly allowed me to purchase them, and they are now in my possession!
The collection is in the original binder holding the complete set of 29 issues in mint condition from 1964! And they are superb! The binders were only made to hold 26 issues so the last 3 are loose.
In issue 29, on page 11 there's a full page ad which announces:
"The Editors of The Bible Story announce that as from next week's issue The Bible Story will be incorporated in Look & Learn"

So, issues of 'Look & Learn' dated around 26th September 1964 onwards would have included the continuation of 'The Bible Story' series. Does anyone know how many combined issues followed? If anyone has some of these combined issues, I'd be very interested! (It worked the first time!) :0)
Presumably, the publishers were not selling as many copies of 'The Bible Story' as they had hoped to, and therefore decided to incorporate it into 'Look and Learn'. This would also explain the 3 loose copies!

Thanks to the index that Gill enclosed, (which names almost every artist in the collection), I can now put a name to just about every Bible Artist that I know of! It seems like almost every children's Bible for the last 30 years has included some artwork that appeared in 'The Bible Story' collection!

There are two artists in-particular that stand out. One is Jack Hayes, and the other, Paul Rainer. (Rainer seemed to work in black & white pastel). Above is a sample of Rainer's work. (Image © 'Look & Learn' Magazine Ltd).
Other good artists who contributed include:
James E McConnell (Who did many of the covers).
Don Lawrence
Fortunino Matania
John Millar Watt
Henry Seabright
Selby Donnison, and many more! Sadly, some of the excellent artwork listed in the index remains anonymous.

My only criticism of 'The Bible Story' magazine was the print quality. When you compare the Jack Hayes cover art #22 'The Death of John the Baptist' with the scan of the original artwork displayed on the Look & Learn website, there is really no comparison. Other than that, this collection is still a 'must have' for any Bible artist. It's not just the artwork that is excellent, There are weekly articles on animals of the Bible, everyday life in Bible times, who's who in the Bible etc, etc. It really is packed with info!
A big thanks to Gill Donaldson, and to her son who so carefully parceled the book!

Posts on other helpful books:
The Great Bible Discovery series
Finding Harold Copping
The World Jesus knew
The Splendor of the Temple


Paul Green said...

That's a great story Graham. It appears you were destined to receive these issues. It would be good to see a page of Don Lawrence's strip work from this magazine. His "Trigan Empire" strip in "Ranger" was way ahead of its time. The European tradition(this includes great Spanish artists etc) of illustration was of such a high standard. Many great artists are still virtually unknown in America. If they didn't draw a super-hero forget it!
By the way, I love the work of many American super-hero comic book artists. But seeing the European standard makes me aware of how limited in scope the American comic book magazine tradition really is.

Bible artist said...

A little while ago, my pictures were criticized by an American Christian publisher as being too European in style.
I didn't take that as an insult!
I will try and find a good example of Don Lawrence's strip work.
(That shouldn't be hard!)

Paul Green said...

Try for the Thomas Kinkade look next time Graham. Soft, fuzzy scenes enhanced by the warm glow of lights from cozy storybook cottages or lighthouses overlooking a stormy sea. That sounds like the kind of 'realism' some of these publishers are seeking.

Bible artist said...

You may be right Paul. It must be what sells!

Joking aside, I think that there is an 'American style' of Bible picture emerging on the internet.

Horseman said...

Hey, hey, hey! Ease up on your brothers across the sea! I am an American artist. And I make art about a super-hero... who goes by many names/titles – as of recently I have been liking "Son of Man".

Kidding. I am actually just an amateur, or a hobbyist. And though I do not have the schooling on such matters, I do recognize there is a difference in the art styles - and I too favor the realism style.

This is a great site. I put it as a favorite and check it often.


Paul Green said...

I'm a Brit living in the USA horseman. I like American art in general. But Thomas Kinkade isn't among them. And I love American comic art. Curt Swan was the best in my opinion but there's so many greats. Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Wallace Wood, Murphy Anderson, Carmine Infantino, John Romita, John Buscema, Gil Kane, Gene Colan. The list goes on and on.

And I agree, Graham has created a great source of reference with this site/blog. Well done Graham.

Bible artist said...

Thanks Guys.
By the way, I wasn't having a go at 'American Bible Art' In fact one of my favorite Bible artists Harold Copping, I believe was American.

And who doesn't love Norman Rockwell's work, (although sadly, he didn't actually do any Bible art!)

Horseman said...

Speaking of Norman Rockwell, indeed he did not do Bible art - but, not long ago I was surfing the net and chanced upon a picture he did. It was of about a half dozen people in church, a zoom in of them from about the shoulders up. The facial expressions were... moving. I wished I had made a copy of that picture, or at least memorized the name. His skin work is - wow! especially in that picture.

Anyway, Graham, did you finish the Temptation of Jesus yet? And speaking of skin and such matters, I really like your reflective shadows (I think that is the term the professionals use) - like in the rabbi in the previous post.

Bible artist said...

I think that the Rockwell picture that you are talking about might be 'The Freedom of Worship' (1943), from his 'Four Freedoms' series of paintings.
Yes he manages to paint every wrinkle in that picture, it is superb!

I actually haven't started the 'Temptation of Christ' pictures yet. I've gone back to finish the passion which I started on 'Good Friday'! There will be about 14 pictures in this set so it's taking a while.

There will be lots to blog about though when it's complete!

Phil Rushton said...

I thought it might be a good idea to post this here as well as on Steve Holland's Blog site:

The fact is that a number of features which seem to have originally been commissioned for Bible Story did eventually turn up in the pages of Look & Learn - albeit in a truncated form. As Steve says on his site Rainer's "Life of Jesus" got half a page in Look & Learn 141 (the first 'combined issue'), but there was also a second Bible Story item in that issue: 'The Story of the Old Testament' which started halfway into Robert Forrest's marvelously impressionistic adaptation of the story of Joseph - something that must have caused a certain amount of confusion amongst regular L&L readers who were never even told that a 'merger' had taken place!

L&L 142 also included installments of both these series (though "The Life of Jesus" was here briefly renamed "Tales from the New Testament"). From 143 however the latter was dropped altogether as The Story of the Old Testament eked out its remaining course in an increasingly abbreviated format - finally concluding with the funeral of Jacob in three black and white panels crammed into just half a page of L&L 153. Thereafter Paul Rainer's 'Stories from the Life of Jesus' resumed (supposedly as a 'new series'), running from 155 to 164, and when this ended it was in turn replaced from L&L 165 by "Warriors from the Bible" - seemingly another leftover item from the Bible Story backlog.

Incidentally Graham, while I'm very impressed by your blog I've got to admit to being surprised that I can't find any mention of the greatest comic-strip Bible artist of them all: Frank Hampson (particularly his classic "Road of Courage" from the back page of Eagle). I'd be interested to know if you are intending to cover him at some time in the future.

Bible artist said...

Thanks for all the info Phil.
If you check out the 'My Favorite Bible Artists' posts, you'll find that Frank Hampson was number 1! (posted 8 October 2006).
You're right, Frank really was the best. Paul Green, who is a regular contributor to the blog bought me a copy of 'The Road of Courage' many years ago to which I am forever in his debt.

Paul Green said...

Thanks Graham. I recall buying your book in Manchester many years ago. I still have my copy. My only problem with Hampson's strip is the light brown/blonde hair and beard of Jesus. Otherwise the detail is immaculate.

Bible artist said...

Yes, and some of the Roman soldiers look like British RAF pilots! but as you say, other than that, it really is superb!
The only other problem with the book was the 'Theology', (particularly the thoughts of Jesus), but that was down to the writer Marcus Morris.

I recently read on the 'Frank Hampson' site that Morris ended up living in a 'Thames side' apartment and driving a Rolls Royce, while Hampson ended up financially struggling!

Bible artist said...

From the information I've received from both Phil Rushton and 'Look & Learn' archivist Steve Holland, it seems that the merging of 'The Bible Story' and L&L, (which was unannounced to L&L readers), was more like a gradual folding of 'The Bible Story' magazine, which was a shame.

Steve Holland mentioned that the week 'TBS' and 'L&L' merged, the page count of L&L also dropped from 28 pages to 24!

Paul Green said...

That is something I always dreaded. The merging of two titles. It softened the blow of your favourite comic just disappearing overnight but it spelled the beginning of the end. The identity of that title would eventually be swallowed and digested by the dominant title. I used to read Power Comics as a kid. Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic and Terrific. Not to forget Wham! which was swallowed by Smash! before it became a Power Comic. They all merged eventually and only Smash! remained in a drastically new form that bore no resemblance to its Power Comic days.
American comic books - like American TV - was a more lethal business. No gradual disappearance. Just a sudden vanishing act.

Paul Green said...

As you and I know Graham all annual and comic publishers hired artists on a 'work for hire' basis meaning a one time payment. The publisher owned the artwork and copyright and could reprint it as many times as they wished without the need to pay the artist.
Much artwork was destroyed by these publishers when they decided they had no further use for it and no storage space. I recall seeing piles of artwork at World International being thrown out. Most of the good artwork was 'rescued' by workers (usually in production) at a company who then sold it at auctions without the artist's knowledge or consent.
Easy for great artists like Frank Hampson to have financial struggles when others were exploiting his talent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for creating this blog and sharing such great info! Please check out the 10-volume series "The Bible Story" by Arthur S. Maxwell. That series illustrates every single narrative in the entire Bible (a rare feat) with thousands of paintings by magazine-cover artists of the 1950s. Also, please check out my own illustrated series about Mary Magdalene, "Escape of the Sinful Woman," which is on Amazon at God bless you!

beatmenace said...

I'm not sure if it is true but in the introduction to one of his books the British Fantasy writer Michael Moorcock claims that one of his earliest writing jobs was on the 'Bible Story weekly' (as well as 'the Peoples Friend'). I just wonder if it was this publication. Or if its even true.

Bible artist said...

Michael Moorcock's name does appear in 'A Brief History of Look and Learn', an article by Steve Holland. As Look and Learn were responsible for 'The Bible Story' it makes sense that he would have been one on the contributors. Peoples Friend bought in lots of stories and artwork from all over the UK and Europe so again it wouldn't surprise me if he worked on that too.

I worked in-house as an illustrator on the Peoples Friend during my time at D C Thomsons. I worked on the Children's corner. My good friend Mike Barrett produced the 'Will and Wag' strip - still going strong today!