Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Art of Denis McLoughlin - A First Peek

A little over a couple of years ago, I first made a posting about the incredible 'noir' tinged art of the late, great illustrator Denis McLoughlin. The response was such that I made a few more posts and as a result was invited to work on a definitive art book with the artist's friend and biographer David Ashford. So in the spring of 2010 I went over to visit David with publisher Geoff West and we immersed ourselves in piles of McLoughlin memorabilia, including many original McLoughlin artworks and rarer than rare examples of his earliest published work, when he was still gunner McLoughlin stationed at Woolwich Barracks, a time when Herman Goering's Luftwaffe seemed to have a particular penchant for destroying any mural that McLoughlin cared to create to enliven the spartan barracks, which were his home for much of the war.

We came away with lots of photographs, which although they were of insufficient quality to serve as illustrations for the book, were to provide a superb guide for all the scans that were to be created over the intervening two years. What was missing on that first visit to David's home was anything in the way of examples of McLoughlin's celebrated hard boiled fiction covers. This to me was a particular concern as, whilst much of his superb Western and comics output is familiar to devotees of McLoughlin (in fact it's still not that difficult to acquire a complete run of his Buffalo Bill Annuals) in contrast, sourcing a complete run of his Boardman Bloodhound covers is well nigh impossible. As far as I was concerned we needed to find a way of presenting these covers which have a resonance well beyond McLoughlin's immediate fan base. But I could see it wasn't going to be that easy. The key to the conundrum came via a San Francisco based purveyor of restored dust jackets. Mark Terry had years of experience working with print and a real passion for 'hard-boiled' fiction, his network of collectors was extraordinary and not only did he know all the relevant collectors Stateside, he also knew all the UK ones as well and was even prepared to visit them with scanner in tow.

In addition to Mark, we had enormous assistance from collectors both in the UK and US and as the project gathered momentum. so did the scope of the book grow to match the ambitions of the project. A chance discovery by David Ashford of a letter from a member of the McLoughlin family elicited a whole new source of remarkable material, much of it never seen before beyond the artist and his immediate friends and family. More memory sticks were exchanged and in addition to all the incredible restorations we were receiving from Mark, we were also seeing for the first time ever Denis McLoughlin's working drawings for several of the murals that were destroyed during the war as well as absolutely pristine high grade printer's proofs of many of his Boardman Bloodhounds and razor sharp proofs of his 'hard-boiled' paperback covers.

The Art of Denis McLoughlin, which at  9" X 12" and 272 pages is a hefty and substantial read, is due to arrive on these shores very shortly and is limited to 950 copies with  a de-luxe edition of 120 copies which comes complete with a painstakingly restored copy of one of our favourite Roy Carson comics and a limited edition print sourced from a printer's proof of the paperback edition of William Campbell Gault's Don't Cry For Me.

I just hope you enjoy the book as much as we did creating it - I am sure you will!


  1. Once again you have produced a book that will be cherished for decades to come. Congratulations to all involved!

    THANK YOU for all the hard work.

  2. Wow!

    Many thanks for your generous words Steve.

  3. Damn, you know how to make a grown man salivate! Drop dead gorgeous, and I don't just mean the blondes! This looks terrific Peter.

  4. Many thanks Norman, like a lot of these projects, we were still receiving some of the most amazing material a few weeks before going to press.

    I expect we'll be having similar experiences with Heros, which is also involving a lot of digging and delving (with some very exciting results!)