The image on the left is from the advertisement for the series Mike's Misfits (The Victor, issue 1541, 01st Sept. 1990). The series started properly in issue 1542. The image on the right is a sketch for an unidentified boys football strip.
This page is devoted to the comic artwork of boys stories artist Tony Harding, who passed away in January, 2014. This page has been compiled with the help of his family and son Antony Harding. My thanks to them for contacting me and providing the background information, pictures and sketches.
The Gurnsey Press obituary below, tells us a great deal about Tony's working life. Antony, his son kindly answered a few questions I posed. Please see below.
The thumb nails below are from left to right - Tony Harding's obituary from the Gurnsey Press page 15, Wednesday 12th February, 2014.
Tony (on the left), working at his desk at the Link Studios, near Holburn, London. On the right of the picture is Barrie Mitchell, a fellow artist.
The last two thumbnails are examples of Tony's sketch's for a boys football story(ies). Which story(ies) is still to be identified.
Please note the last three images below remain the copyright of Antony Harding.
Q. Did your Dad have time to draw for other companies, such as for the American comic or commercial industries? (For example posters, illustrations for books and so on) If so, what stories did he draw for other comic companies? Do you have any examples?
Answer - As well as drawing for DC Thomson he worked for IPC on comics such as Roy of the Rovers, Action and Scorcher. He drew stories such as: The Footballer Who Wouldn’t Stay Dead (ROTR), Look Out For Lefty (Action) and Bobby of the Blues (Scorcher) amongst others. He occasionally drewstories in the annuals: Roy of the Rovers, Andy Steel: Playmaker and Gary’s Golden Boots, for example. There are many others but I have yet to really go through his boxes of comics properly.
In the later years of his career (1998 -2003) he drew for the Football Picture Story Monthly pocket books and also for Soccer Junior Magazine in the US, both for DC Thomson.
Q. Did your Dad also do other drawing outside of the comics industry? For example oil or water paintings.Answer - He did a few pencil drawings and illustrations for friends and relatives but he spent so much time drawing comics at home his spare time was mostly spent on playing sports and onchurch activities.
Q. What scenes did your father enjoy drawing the most? For example, sport, adventure? Or was he happy to provide artwork for any genre if asked?Answer - He was a huge football fan, so I would say he was most at home with the football stories.But he loved all sports and would have enjoyed drawing athletes, cricketers and boxers as well when given the chance. He probably wasn’t so keen on war stories.
Q. Do you have a listing of all of the strips that your Dad drew?
Answer - I’m working on it! My aim now is to try to track down examples of all of his work.Unfortunately he couldn’t remember half the stories or comics he’d worked on himself, there were so many over the years, so it’s a daunting task. I’m told he drew Wonder Man (Victor – DC Thomson) at some point in his early career but I have yet to find anything that resembles his work. He said he’d drawn a version of Bernard Briggs (Hornet – DC Thomson) possibly called Bouncing Briggs or Goalie Briggs, again I have yet to find this. He may also have done something in Hotspur (DC Thomson) and I’m sure he did Alf Tupper (Victor – DC Thomson) a couple of times.
I have also found prints from the following stories but have no idea what they were published in:
Q. How did your father work, (number of hours a day, where he worked and so on), what size and type of paper and what drawing materials did he use?
Answer - He would start maybe 10 in the morning and work through the day on the Roy of the Rovers story, stopping for lunch and dinner. Then he would work into the evenings on either Victor or Scoop stories. On Saturdays he would play football and on Sundays he would go to church and relax in the countryside.
He had an old wooden desk at home in a downstairs room. He later moved his desk out to an extension which was built onto the back of the house with big patio doors. He used an old home made wooden drawing board and drew on sheets of thin white cardboard (so he could roll them up and post them in). I would say the artwork was roughly 3 or 4 times bigger than the printed pages in the comics. I remember his big sheets of blotting paper, Indian ink, a pot full of nib pens and brushes and a small block of wood with some sandpaper stapled to it on which he used to sharpen his pencil leads. He used a clutch pencil and large green rubbers and the odd bit of process white. He had many scrapbooks in which I would paste all the cuttings of footballers from Shoot Magazine that he would use for reference.
Q. How many pages did your father draw a week?
Answer - Back in the days of the weeklies he usually worked on 2 comics at a time, so I would say he would have done between 4 to 6 pages a week, depending on whether the story was a two or three pager. They were quite tight deadlines and sometimes he would have to wait for scripts to arrive in the post.
Q. Do you know which artists (if any), inspired your father?Answer - I remember my father showing me the work of Arthur Rackham and telling me that this was how trees should be drawn. Also we had one of the Pooh books with Ernest Shepard’sillustrations and several books of Walt Disney’s work. I know as a child he was a fan of the Eagle comic and Dan Dare. I think also some of his fellow comic illustrators such as Barry Mitchell and Paul Trevillion would have no doubt inspired him over the years.
Q. Do you have any information about the Link Studio's? Where was it based? Who ran it?
I believe it was based in Holburn, London and it was owned by a lady called Doris White who had illustrated some of the Noddy books in the 1940s/1950s. Dad signed at the age of 16 in 1958 as an apprentice and his good friends and fellow comic artists Barrie Mitchell and Mike Lacey were also signed to Link Studios at the same time. I don’t know what Dad’s first job was but he was encouraged by Doris White to become a freelance illustrator aged 20 in 1962.
I'll be posting reviews of some of the strips Tony drew in the coming months. But in the meantime please view and read some examples of this artist's work below.
The story below is from the Goalie Clinic series, Hornet issue 464, dated 29th July, 1972.
The first historic meeting between those two giants of sport Bernard Briggs and Alf Tupper, took place in the Hornet, issue 439, 05th Feb. 1972. The first episode of the series, King Bernard is below.
Harding also drew some other Victor fan favourite characters such as Jimmy Grant. The below episode is from issue 1428, 02nd July, 1988.
Tony also drew comics for other publishers including IPC Action comic. Below are two example episodes. The first is from a series called, Look Out For Lefty that ran in that comic between 1976 to 1977.
The second and final non D.C. Thomson story is an episode from Roy's [of the Rovers fame] Action Replay series, published by Fleetway in 1987, titled You've Got to be Lucky. My thanks to Antony for the last two episode scans of his father's work.