Saturday, June 30, 2012

A mini-interview with David Ashford

David Ashford's book The Art of Denis McLoughlin is due to arrive back from the printers in July, so we're taking this opportunity to have a quick word with him about this amazing compilation of Denis's artwork.

When did you first become aware of Denis McLoughlin's work and how did it compare to the other artists you were seeing in comics at the time? Did you have any particular favourites from your childhood reading? 

I must have been about seven or eight when I first came across those delightful orange and green photogravure comics in Woolworths. My favourite was Roy Carson because he was completely drawn by someone called 'd.mcloughlin' (said so on the cover) – I also liked the Buffalo Bill issues but, unfortunately, only the cover was drawn by that artist. Imagine my delight when at school a boy brought in a copy of the first Buffalo Bill Annual – I couldn't believe it! All of it was drawn - and painted - by this man, McLoughlin! I didn't manage to get hold of a copy of that first annual until many years later, but the second one i made sure I was given as a birthday present and, from then on, I picked them up one way or another every year until it came to an end. I loved that annual, not only because it was so superbly designed but also because it was imbued with such an obvious love for the historical American West.

When did you first contact McLoughlin and how? When did you first meet him?

I first met Denis at Denis Gifford's first British Comicon in 1978  and we immediately got on and became great friends. I detail in the book and, particularly, in the first issue of Illustrators, our friendship and the way that it affected my life in a most positive way.

There was an explosion of interest in Denis's work in the early 1990s and a slew of little books appeared . . . How does the new book differ from those in its approach to McLoughlin?

This book, The Art of Denis McLoughlin, is, thanks to the work of designer/editor Peter Richardson, the ultimate tribute to the work of Denis McLoughlin. The book is a large size hardback of 272 pages. We have managed to secure absolutely stunning cover reproductions, many of which have only been seen by a very few collectors and all of them reproduced in full glowing colour! We were fortunate to obtain the involvement of a member of the McLoughlin family who had managed to rescue priceless photographs and original art (from a dilapidated garden shed!), which, in the case of the Woolwich Barracks mural drawings, have never been seen before. There are some fabulous images from the Buffalo Bill Annuals taken from actual artwork as well as colour roughs for two Western annual covers that never saw publication.

There are exhaustive indexes which attempt correctly to identify cover art by McLoughlin and point out those which have been erroneously ascribed to the Master. All the covers for the TVB hard-boiled paperbacks are reproduced - many from perfect printer's proofs which were held in the artist's collection. Scores of covers of McLoughlin's legendary Bloodhounds are reproduced, all of superb quality. McLoughlin's favourite Roy Carson strip is reproduced in it's entirety from proof sheets supplied by the artist himself as well as examples of his roughs and correspondence to the writer.

I think I can say without fear of contradiction that this must be the most exciting, the most colourful and the most comprehensive book ever published on a single British illustrator. 

What more do I need to say apart from this: order your copy today because there's only going to be 950 of 'em!

Order your copy directly from Book Palace Books. Denis McLoughlin is also featured in Illustrators #1.

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