Sunday, April 25, 2010
Giovannini's Last of the Mohicans
Tell Me Why was a children's educational weekly published by Fleetway in 1968. The large-format 20 page full colour glossy magazine was an English language version of a similar mag which hailed from Holland. Its tone was slightly "younger" than companion magazine Look and Learn and tended to use more illustrations than the older publication.
Some of the content of Tell Me Why was presented in picture strip form, and illustrated by some artists that readers would be familiar with. One such talent was Italian artist Ruggero Giovannini, known for his work in the early 1960s on Olac the Gladiator for Tiger comic.
Giovannini died in 1983, aged 61, but his work is still admired and respected amongst fans and professionals. In 1968 he illustrated an adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans for Tell Me Why so I thought readers of this blog might like to see some pages from it.
I'm not sure how many parts the strip ran to, as I didn't have Tell Me Why after issue No.8 (1/6d was quite expensive for a weekly back then) but it's a shame this timeless artwork hasn't been collected into graphic novel form.
The detail of Giovannini's linework is effective without being overdone or cluttered. It's easy to see why his artwork remains so respected.
Magazines such as Tell Me Why often reveal some forgotten comic strip gems like this. Giovannini himself illustrated a Ben Hur strip for Look and Learn, - recently reprinted when the magazine was revived as a 48 week partwork.
In 1970 IPC (who were now handling all of Fleetway's publications) revamped Tell Me Why as a new title: World of Wonder. The new weekly had more pages, but it was very similar to Look and Learn and had replaced Tell Me Why's more strip-based approach to education with the traditional illustrated text features. A great pity. Edited by Bob Bartholemew (half of "Alf and Bart" from the Odhams letters pages) World of Wonder was quite successful but declining sales eventually led to it folding in 1975.