As mentioned last month Look-in artist Arthur Ranson signed my guestbook a
while back, and
having got in touch with him, he kindly agreed to answer
some questions for me, and although
you can see some of these answers in a blog on
his website, we decided the best thing was
to do a longer interview specifically for this site. Arthur started in Look-in in 1972, first with covers before moving on to
strips including Potty Time, Worzel, Buck Rogers, Sapphire and Steel and
Danger Mouse. I started right back at the beginning...
Tell me a bit about what
influenced you to become an artist, and what you
read when you were young.
This is a true story. Age four,
a wartime evacuee, in reception class Miss Skillycorn admired my
drawing of her spectacles. I knew then I wanted to be an artist.
Early reading was Beano, Dandy,
Knockout, Film Fun, later text only ‘comics’ Hotspur, Adventure and Rover.
Eagle when that appeared.
Joined the public library as early as I could. Books I remember, Rachel
Edgar Rice Burroughs, a long run on stories of animals from their
gave me some 1930’s children’s albums, heroic tales with great colour
illustrations, loved those.
What were you doing before (working for Look-in)?
to South -East Essex County Technical School, Dagenham. Drew my own
comic, derivative of Superman/Captain Marvel. Confiscated by teacher
curious to read it. Later was an apprentice stamp
designer at Waterlows Security Printers, which included day release to do
South-East- Essex County Technical College and School of Art, Dagenham.
When the five year apprenticeship finished I did three years at South-West
Essex County Technical College and School of
Art, Wathamstow. Ending with
National Diploma in Painting and Printmaking, I wanted to be a painter.
What I did become was a Dagenham secondary school art teacher for a year.
Moved to Grays, Essex.
Was a lettering artist in a cardboard box factory.
Later moved to Peckham, London.
Had a couple of
unlikely jobs ( tea sack shifter, colour mixer) , then a
place as studio assistant in small central London commercial art studio.
Moved to Wandsworth. (see Potty Time map of southern England
train route) Stuff happened. I became freelance. I odd did bits for odd
people. A 60p per drawing 1000
page colour-it book was a highlight. I did
illustrations for advertising agencies, All-Bran I remember,
mags Knave and Fiesta. Some for Look and Learn too.
How did you come to meet
Colin Shelbourn ?
Touting around looking for work I called in at Look-in offices
and met Colin who was then the art editor.
I did a cover. (No.32 from 1972 - Stewpot on
a Chopper bike.)
The Super-flop strip came from my happening to
in the office when Bryan Lewis had just abruptly left, landing them
with a artist-less strip. I piped up to
say “I could do that”. Editor
Colin Shelbourn was willing to give me a trial.
page took me a week
as I tore up the first (how many?) attempts. It wasn’t
as easy as in my innocence I had imagined.
Who did you get on well with at Look-in?
After our visit to Liverpool to research The Beatles, Angus
Allan and I became regular drinking chums.
Angus lived within walking
distance of my place and would drop round. I guess
we did talk about work
but it often turned into a pub crawl,
Angus moving to France probably saved me from liver damage.
Bill Titcombe and I got on later and I am still in touch with
him. I met up with Harry North a few
to New York.
What did you enjoy working on?
For sheer fun Danger Mouse. Was never more conscious, through
my infant daughter and her friends,
of having an
audience of children and I liked that. Also put lots of private
and personal jokes into it.
The Beatles I remember as
being a development of my use of line-work and I found that satisfying.
Were any strips a bit of a chore?
Haircut 100. Just never felt comfortable with it’s combination
Corner and Funny Folks format.
Did you have a choice in what you did?,
Haircut 100 for example seemed an
unusual choice to offer to you.
I just did what Colin gave me. If there was any rationale to what he
chose for me I never figured it.
His choice of me for Danger Mouse was
the biggest surprise.