On History: Carol Day

By | Tuesday, September 02, 2014 Leave a Comment
One of the things that continues to amaze me (though it really, really shouldn't) is coming across noteable comic works that are rarely, if ever, mentioned in comic histories I read/watch because they didn't originate in the United States. There was certainly a lot of great comics produced in the US, but the vast majority of studies on the subject focus primarily on the US, with only occassional mentions of Japan and/or Eastern Europe (mostly Great Britain). So in that sense, it should not surprise me to come across a British comic strip and artist I had never heard of, but I also feel that I should have come across the names before now, given the volume of material I read. In any event...

David Wright was an illustrator that was known for drawing glamorous women in the 1940s. He started doing work for fashion magazines, and soon became a popular pin-up artist, working pretty continuously in that capacity from the early 1940s through the mid-1950s. Wright first attempted a comic strip in 1953 called "Judy" that appeared in the weekly magazine Tit-Bits. While his art was top-notch, the plots and characters were a bit weak, and he ended that strip after just a few years. But in 1956, he created the comic strip "Carol Day" for The Daily Mail and worked on that until his death in 1967.

The strip centered on the title character, a fashion model, and the soap opera style events surrounding her life. Roger Clark says of the strip: "With its combination of sophisticated themes and stories, multi-dimensional characters and always magnificent art, Carol Day transcends even the best American strips of the time, but it has been woefully neglected. Though it was syndicated in around 70 papers around the world, this high-spot of the newspaper comic strip has never been collected, and it never appeared in the US. According to Patrick Wright, David's son, 'even though the Hearst Newspaper did attempt to head-hunt my father in the early 1950s, it was felt Carol Day was too sophisticated for the American market!'"
Wright was clearly a talented artist. He did very little preliminary pencil work, only putting just enough to give an outline of character placements, and then moved on to inking with a #2 sable brush. If you examine the original art I've included here, you'll note, too, that the only instances of whiting out his inkwork are not on the artwork proper, but with his balloons and lettering! That takes an inordinate amount of talent even if you've got tight pencils to start with!

Wright's work has never been reprinted that I can find; however, it looks as if the majority of them are available digitally through Amazon. I've only seen a handful of samples myself, so I can't speak to how well the story holds up today, or even how predictable it might be, but the art is certainly gorgeous and worth digging around just to look at/study that.
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