Don’t feel bad if the name Dudley D. Watkins doesn’t ring a bell—I grew up reading his comics and I never heard of him either. Watkins was a regular artist for the Scottish publisher DC Thomson, which published the children’s comics Beano, Dandy, Topper, and Beezer, and from 1925 until his death in 1969 he brought a variety of oddball characters to life, including Biffo the Bear, Smarty Grandpa, and my family’s personal favorite, Desperate Dan. The Scottish newspaper The Courier (“Taking you to the heart of Tayside and Fife”) has posted a generous sampling of Watkins’s works, and although I wish they were a bit bigger, they sure do bring back memories.
I was raised in the U.S. but spent stretches of time in both Ireland and Scotland (in fact, I lived in St. Andrews, which is in Fife), so I know from solid experience that British children’s comics of the 1960s and 70s were far more entertaining than their American counterparts. (I wrote about them for The Hooded Utilitarian and the former incarnation of this blog.) To this day whenever someone in my family goes over there they are instructed to bring back copies of Beano and Dandy, which are still delighting kids 85 years after Watkins first put pen to paper.
And that Treasure Island book? I own it. I got it in kindergarten and was utterly terrified by the Black Spot and other pirate antics. That Watkins, he knew what he was doing.
(Via The Forbidden Planet.)