Monday, August 10, 2009

Blinky Bill and Friends

Blinky Bill (vignette)

The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill (Dustjacket), 1939 by Dorothy Wall

Blinky Bill (vignette) by Dorothy Wall

Blinky Bill Joins the Army - Dorothy Wall

Kookaburra with spectacles (vignette) by Dorothy Wall

Blinky Bill and Nutsy by Dorothy Wall

Blinky Bill running (vignette) by Dorothy Wall

The Story of Tommy Bear and the Zookies - Dorothy Wall

(IN) Tommy Bear and the Zookies by Dorothy Wall, 1920

'The Jackass thought he had never seen anything so funny' IN The Crystal Bowl, 1921 by Dorothy Wall

'He received such a thrashing..' IN The Crystal Bowl by Dortothy Wall

'Blinky, Splodge and Wally' by Dorothy Wall IN A Tiny Story of Blinky Bill

The Cheats by Dorothy Wall, 1914

'The Cheats' appeared in the 1914 magazine, 'The Lone Hand' and is the first known illustration by Dorothy Wall. The grotesque bush figures would appear, in one guise or another, in many of Wall's later works.

The images below are all from the one book (linked in the commentary)

Blinky Bill, the quaint little Australian - 'What shall I name this young bear', he asked. 1933

Blinky Bill - Chapter 2 vignette (1933 by Dorothy Wall

Blinky Bill scene by Dorothy Wall

Blinky Bill, The Quaint Little Australian - 1933 by Dorothy Wall

Dorothy Wall illustration of Blinky Bill characters 1933

Blinky Bill, The Quaint Little Australian 1933 by Dorothy Wall

'It was great fun! - Dorothy Wall illustration (kangaroo as transport)

Dorothy Wall (1894-1942) completed some artistic training in her native New Zealand before emigrating to Australia in 1914 where she quickly obtained work as a commercial graphic artist. It is no little coincidence that another contemporary childrens book artist, the more famous May Gibbs, had also come to Australia at about the same time. Gibbs' work at least partly inspired Wall (and others) to move from the calendar, card and advertising industry into children's book illustration.

Wall first gained some success in 1920 when she released 'The Story of Tommy Bear and the Zookies' -- an early koala bear model for her later work and featuring characters similar to Gibbs' gumnut babies -- and provided the illustrations for JJ Hall's 'The Crystal Bowl'. But it would be another decade of commercial graphic work before the Blinky Bill series catapulted Wall to national attention.

The use of the image of a koala in humorous prints or children's books had been pioneered, so to speak, by Norman Lindsay and his brother Lionel, in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. When Wall's 'Blinky Bill' first appeared in 1933, featuring the mischievous title character with friends, Splodge the kangaroo, Flap the platypus and Wombo the wombat and touching on environmental issues, it appealed to a new generation of children.

"[Wall] featured Blinky Bill in a series of her own books, including Blinky Bill: The Quaint Little Australian, Blinky Bill Grows Up, and Blinky Bill and Nutsy. The books are considered quintessential Australian children's classics, and have never been out of print in Australia."
Sadly, Wall suffered from depression and experienced financial difficulties, despite the incredible success that the Blinky Bill series achieved. The shortage of paper during the war stymied Wall's attempts to interest the major newspapers in her comic strip version of Blinky Bill and she died in Sydney in 1942 from pneumonia, a week after her forty eighth birthday.

Mouse over the images for the caption/book titles.


Will said...

Great illustrations and all new to me. Do you know if her books ever made it to the UK or America?

Recently I've noticing paper shortage announcements in books published during WWII. I hadn't thought about shortages affecting newspaper illustrators -- that must have been rough.

peacay said...

I have this program, CCCleaner, that, among other things, empties the recycling bin when I turn on the pc. So my scans of the Dorothy Wall chapter - the commentary at least - from that compilation book have gone (or at least I'm pretty sure I would need another prog. to retrieve them if they are actually still hidden on the hdd).

I do know 'Bridget and the Bees' was published in UK and USA. [another pic]. The chapter's author specifically mentioned that as a point of success over May Gibbs.

(To be honest, I wasn't overly fond of this guy's attitude, which I've basically sidestepped - he was often quite catty in his critique and it was hard to tell the difference between fact and his opinion. So it's possible "was stymied by paper shortage" could better be rendered as "was in part stymied by paper shortage" with ref. to the comic strips. He kept on about Wall having an inflated sense of her artistic worth kind of thing -- I thought the facts spoke for themselves so I ignored this side of things but it may have had some element of truth, say, in her lack of success with the comics.)

Katya said...

Great post, I loved Blinky Bill as a child. Great memories.

Kate said...

I never cease to be amazed by your patience and effort with these posts - truly delightful and such Blinky memories, today! Lovely post, as always.

peacay said...

Taa. I don't actually remember if I had any Blinky Bill books as a kiddywink, but of course, like vegemite and surf lifesavers, they're an inescapable part of the visual social fabric.

Jane O Sullivan said...

thanks for this , I really liked her work ..bordering on the creepy
great find

Post a Comment

Comments are all moderated so don't waste your time spamming: they will never show up.

If you include ANY links that aren't pertinent to the blog post or discussion they will be deleted and a rash will break out in your underwear.

Also: please play the ball and not the person.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Creative Commons License