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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.


Andy Boal said...

I was given several years' worth of World of Wonder by one of my dad's then colleagues back in the late 70s/early 80s, together with some early 70s Beano and Dandy Books. Alas, we disposed of World of Wonder years ago - the run was complete up to about 1973.

Dezskinn said...

Just came across this Lew. Had forgotten all about World of Wonder. But looking at the cover, I wonder if IPC was "doing a Vulcan". All the cover text and logos are in black only which, unless group printing for various languages is a kinda drab and unlikely way to launch a title...

Anonymous said...

Trip back in time!

.....I recall those Last of the Mohican strips in Tell Me Why...and yes, I recall the Viking cover too! It makes me feel ancient....Jesus!

Thank you very much indeed for jogging my memory back to 1968, and 1970.

Tell Me Why was an excellent magazine.

Eva Lutian said...

I 'found' the first edition of TMY, aged 9 on holiday. The perfect companion for a child who was always asking questions. I looked forward impatiently to each new edition, and followed it through to WoW issue 109. To say its mixture of history, science, art, stories, fact, fiction was inspirational is an understatement. I still have the whole set and appreciate it as an adult for its creativity and art.

mark said...

Fondly remembered. I used to copy the covers with carbon paper and then colour them in. The Richard the lionheart cover and that of Scott and his party particularly. The pictorial nature of it helped me learn all sorts of stuff. Great to find this blog.

David Britton said...

I came across your Giovannini page while discussing "Last of the Mohicans" with a friend. It may be of interest to tell you that I have about half of the original artwork for the story from "Tell Me Why".
Best regards
David Britton

Lew Stringer said...

That's good to hear, David! It's great to know the artwork has found a good home and hasn't been destroyed like a lot of pages were from that time.

Dez! I've only just seen your comment for some reason. Yes, it does seem a possibility. I'm sure I've heard somewhere that Tell Me Why and World of Wonder were published internationally.

Arnab Banerjee said...

What an amazing find!
I can't believe those pages I grew up with as a kid, are all scanned and evinced here.
TELL ME WHY satiated my hungry mind with dollops of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Beethoven, Sir Walter Scot, submarines, Last of the Mohicans, wild west and so much more.
Those beautiful illustrations are still etched sharp in my memory.

Lew, can't thank you enough for this treasure! I am calling my mom in Kolkata right now and asking her to open the binder containing some 30 Tell Me Why issues. Can't wait to reread them.

Walker/Jansseune said...

Hi Lew, glad I found this page and thanks for posting. I searched for Tell Me Why when looking for a hashtag for the magazine to put on social media as #tellmewhy has nothing to do with the magazine. Like many here I have very fond memories of TMY and WOW and have the complete run of both in binders. I dip in from time to time to relive my past but it’s the large double page illustrations of dinosaurs and volcanic scenes that I remember best. The strip drawings never did much for me but I will use this opportunity to revisit and appreciate the work of people like Giovannini.

Lew Stringer said...

I think it was the artwork for the features that resonated with me more than the strips too, thinking about it. A pity there's nothing like Tell Me Why around today. Glad you found this blog. Thanks for commenting.

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