Robert MacGillivray

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philcom55
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Robert MacGillivray

Post by philcom55 » 26 Dec 2012, 13:27

Given that he had such a long and distinguished career in British comics I thought it was about time Robert MacGillivray was given his due on Comics UK. For most people he is best known as the artist of a long line of quirky girls' stories with a fantastic element, beginning in 1963 with 'Lucy's Living Doll' in Fleetway's School Friend and going on to include a number of fondly-remembered DC Thomson series such as 'The Balloon of Doom' and 'The Flights of Flopear'.

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Less well known, however, is his work as a pioneer of more humorous strips such as 'The Tickler Twins', who appeared in the very first issue of Thomson's Magic way back in 1939; not to mention drawing 'funny animals' like 'Moko the Baby Monkey' for AP's Sun.

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During the mid-1950s he went on to draw a succession of boys' adventure strips for Knockout, including serious film adaptations and a long stint on Baker Street's 'other' detective Sexton Blake (though, as can be seen in the example below, one can already detect signs of the sinister humour that he eventually perfected for strips like 'The Balloon of Doom'!)

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But perhaps his most high-profile 1950s series appeared at the end of the decade on the cover of Odhams' short-lived but lavishly produced title Zip. This featured the light-hearted adventures of Skippy ('the boy who lives in a barrel'), and gave him an opportunity to develop the style of wide-eyed, comic characterization that he employed to such effect for the rest of his career.

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Of course, these examples only scratch the surface of MacGillivray's extensive canon. I'd be interested to see how many more of his strips people can identify (especially from his later period drawing various girls' comics for Fleetway and Thomson). Also, are there any particular series that deserve to be ranked alongside 'Lucky', 'Balloon' and 'Flopear' for their sheer, inspired originality?

- Phil Rushton

DavidKW
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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by DavidKW » 29 Dec 2012, 14:14

MacGillivray also drew the mega un-PC "Sooty Snowball" in Magic - later revived by another artist as Sparky in the comic of the same name.

Also drew for the short-lived Marilyn comic.

One of his other best surreal strips was the sadly short-lived "Maisie's MAgic Eye" in first Sally 1969-71, then Tammy in 1971. Maisie MacRae has a brooch made from a metriorite shaped like an eye which can make people do things Maisie wishes. Amusing.

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by DavidKW » 29 Dec 2012, 14:15

I think he did also draw a strip series for Schoolfriend - can't remember the name - just before Lucky's Living Doll arrived to replace it & enjoy a long run.

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by DavidKW » 29 Dec 2012, 14:29

Did see an old Sexton Blake book a while back - can see his distinctive style taking shape there - one un-PC damsel does look like a bit like an adultistic Lucky Smith/Maisie MacRae.

MacGillivray also drew in the early 1980s, such regular strips as Trixie's Treasure Chest & Belle Of The Ball for DCT.

One of his last published strips ever was Lizzie's Truck in the 1988 Bunty annual - sadly posthumous as he died in 1986.

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philcom55
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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by philcom55 » 30 Dec 2012, 11:12

I think Lucky's Living Doll must have established MacGillivray's role as an artist for girls' stories with a fantastic twist. Before that his strips for School Friend during the early 1960s were rather more realistic; in fact, if the examples below are anything to go by, he was initially in danger of becoming a specialist in stories about swimming!

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Are either of these the series you were thinking of David?

Speaking of Maisie's Magic Eye it's worth pointing out that Robert MacGillivray wasn't the original artist and didn't actually take the reins until about six months into its run - shortly after it was promoted to the front page of Sally. Here's how the first episode began, with Maisie looking very different under the hands of another artist.

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And, by contrast, here's an example of MacGillivray's more familiar look:

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While there's nothing wrong with the first version I can't help feeling that MacGillivray's characters have a more engaging warmth with their bright eyes and curiously turned-up noses. However the key to his success, in my opinion, is the slightly disturbing - almost horrific - way in which he could capture the strange transformations caused by Maisie's piece of fallen star. On the surface the notion of being literally turned into a wet blanket is pretty silly, but somehow the graphic depiction of Nora's plight is sufficiently unsettling to be the stuff of nightmares for some of Sally's more impressionable readers.

- Phil Rushton

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by DavidKW » 31 Dec 2012, 11:20

Thanks Phil, it was Maypole I was thinkking of as the MAcGilllivray strip that preceded Lucky's Living Doll in Schoolfriend.

As for Maisie's Magic Eye, I can remmeber somewhere seeing a picture the original version somewhere & thinking that it looked different; now I know. macGillivray certainly was a massive improvement on MME - agree he added warmth & a skill to mix the silly with the scary.

A brilliant artist who deserves far more recognition for his works (as for that matter does June comic - whenever there's articles written on girls' comics June gets glossed over - usually it cannonballs from Bunty to Tammy with perhaps a token mention of Princess Tina in between. Sally also deserves more recognition even though it was short-lived).

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by Niblet » 31 Dec 2012, 17:41

Robert drew The Double Deckers (based on the TV show Here Come The Double Deckers) in Whizzer and Chips, 1971-72. The strip was reprinted in Cheeky Weekly from July 1979, but retitled The Gang.

This example from W&C 19 June 1971 - acknowledgements to the scanner...

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by DavidKW » 05 Jan 2013, 15:05

Nice one!
Never knew the Double Deckers had their own picture strip - MacGillivray does a good job of drawing the characters & capturing the spirit of the show.

Funny thing is - one of the Double Decker episodes that stuck in my mind when I saw it in the 1970s (have now again on DVD - about time too!) was one where Doughnut dreams he has become invisble and terrorizes revenge on a Toy Shop where he begins my moving some talking dolls - one says "I am your baby doll. I walk and I talk".
When I first saw the caption description of "Lucky's Living Doll" - "she walks and talks into trouble and fun" - that episode came into my head!

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by DavidKW » 06 Jan 2013, 11:28

Was just thinking - what stories did Rob MacGillivray do for "Misty"? I know he did one called "The Haunted Library" which appeared in an annual.

Also - what was the last strip of his that was published after his death in 1986?

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helsbels
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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by helsbels » 06 Jan 2013, 12:32

Robert MacGillivray never had any stories in the weekly Misty comic. The stories he drew that appeared in Misty annuals were reprints from June comic, from the strange story teller series. I wonder if perhaps his style of artwork was too "light" and cheery for Misty and her gothic tales? I love his work, but maybe it just wasn't deemed as fitting in with the rest of the artwork in the comic. I also love the work of Jose Casanovas but his work never appeared in Misty either, maybe for similar reasons?

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by RuthB » 08 Jan 2013, 22:24

Anybody knows by any chance the author of the first Maisie's strip and also... any inkling on the date of MacGillivray's birth?
Traying to complete some bio info! This as been most helpful to fill in the gaps as I didn't have much information apart from some lists of his series/strips I have seen in different comics I have, but I had no clue of his date of death.

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philcom55
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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by philcom55 » 10 Jan 2013, 23:13

I'm afraid I don't know who drew the first Maisie episodes, nor Robert MacGillivray's date of birth.

Thanks for showing that 'Double Deckers' strip Niblet. It really is amazing how many series MacGillivray produced over the years. Here's yet another of his early swimming strips from School Friend - this time from 1960:

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(Incidentally, 'Pat of the Dolphins' was subsequently reprinted in Sally as 'High Dive Hazel')

While he regularly worked for Fleetway's girls' comics throughout the 1960s, however, it's worth pointing out that he also drew a number of series for the early issues of DC Thomson's Diana. Here are three examples of those from 1963:

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- Phil Rushton

DavidKW
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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by DavidKW » 12 Jan 2013, 11:47

I wonder if perhaps his style of artwork was too "light" and cheery for Misty and her gothic tales?

Quite possibly - though he did do some scary stories like the "Balloon of Doom" later on, though it also had added warmth (a sense that things would eventually turn out ok), which made it ok for its "Bunty" audience.

Never knew he did any stange stories from the storyteller - thought it was always from that Spanish artist (name has escaped me) with exception of 1982 June annual.

I think MacGillivray was already planning to leave IPC (ie see end of contract) by the time Misty was launched.

I think I heard somewhere he was quite disillusioned with IPC by the time he left & did not enjoy the angst-ridden Tammy/Jinty stories he was asked to do.

It seems that DCT on his return gave him more freedom for the light hearted surreal stories he enjoyed doing.

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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by RuthB » 12 Jan 2013, 12:18

The storyteller stories were all done by different authors. Maaaany authors. Trini Tinturé did five or six, Santiago Hernandez did a few too. Robert; and so many. And many more British artists too, of course

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philcom55
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Re: Robert MacGillivray

Post by philcom55 » 13 Jan 2013, 00:35

'Paula with the White Mask' was another ice-skating story that replaced 'The Skating Knights' from Diana no.17:

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With its large pages and photogravure printing I assume that Diana paid better than DC Thomson's newsprint comics (as did virtually all the Fleetway titles like School Friend and June) which probably explains why MacGillivray didn't start working for Bunty until much later.

- Phil Rushton

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