Friday, 13 June 2014

Raymond Sheppard and Lilliput and John Sidney and Dal Stivens

Raymond Sheppard illustrated approximately 80 stories and features in Hulton's Lilliput magazine between 1951 and 1957. I have favourites and have seen many of the original artboards which are fantastic and am lucky to own a couple (that's for another day).

Before getting onto Sheppard's work in this magazine I should do a credit for the young lady on the swing. I searched for a credit in the contents page and couldn't find it so skimmed a bit further and found more about Adele Collins! I have placed a scanned copy of the article on my Visual Rants Blog.

Sheppard produces some wonderfully accurate artwork here - bear in mind the Internet as we know it is still 50 years away - and the first image of a diver encountering sharks is done in an ink wash in black and white.

p. 13 Lilliput July 1956
A diver encounters sharks
The next picture illustrates 'Bill Prentice' in his inflated diving suit, turning with shock when a grouper bumps into him and "shoves him forward a couple of feet". I researched the 'Goliath Grouper' and found it can grow to the size of a small car. No wonder Bill, in the story is worried.

Notice the colour wash used here is orange. Lilliput used a few colours in the magazine - predominantly black and white - and changed them month by month,; one month orange; one month pink and so on. I own a piece of art done by Sheppard in this orange colour but it was reproduced in blue! Presumably the editor selected one artist's work and then found he wanted to use another's but found it was a different colour and used a filter to change the colour for the photographic plates. Did he ask for orange one month, blue another, or did he merely hold inventory for use at a later date?

p. 14 Lilliput July 1956
A diver encounters a grouper
Photo: Michael Patrick O'Neill won the People in Nature Award with this
at the Nature's Best 2007 Photography Competition
[Taken from Alex Santoso's page]

In this story "Last Dive" by John Sidney, it's not really the sharks that cause a problem when searching for mother of pearl but the grouper! According to the Pura Divers website:
Goliath groupers, previously known as jewfish, were targeted by fishermen in uncontrolled numbers until 1990. This exploitation of the goliath grouper caused the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list it as critically endangered and the fishery was closed in 1990 

p. 16 Lilliput July 1956
A Tiger Shark circles a diver

The Tiger Shark is one of the three deadliest sharks but causes few fatalities in humans. Read more on the Hawaii Tiger Research Program page.

The second story I have found by "John Sidney" is in Lilliput September 1956 called "The toughest digestion in the world" and this is also illustrated by Raymond Sheppard

p. 15 Lilliput September 1956
A Shark swims amongst crates

p. 15 Lilliput September 19566
A Shark chases a porcupine fish

Why have I put "John Sidney" in speechmarks? The excellent Fiction magazine Index   states "John Sidney pseudonym of Dal Stivens, (1911-1997)". Under his pseudonym he wrote:

It also states
Stivens, Dal(las George) (1911-1997) (stories)
Writer. Born in Blayney, Australia.

Off I went and found he is considered "in the front ranks of Australia's short story writers" and 91 boxes of his papers are deposited with the National Library of Australia where you can also see a biographical sketch from which I have taken the material below.

He was born on the last day of 1911 and followed his father into bank accounting, but after his first collection of short stories were published in 1936 he moved on. It was his job of Press Officer at Australia House in London that led to his beginning to concentrate on writing articles and stories for the British, Australian and American markets and in 1958 he returned to his homeland. . "Stivens published several collections of his short stories and four novels, one of which, A horse of air, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1970. He also published a children's book, The bushranger (1978) and a book on natural history entitled The incredible egg. Stivens' fiction is widely admired for its humour and descriptions of the bush, especially his tall tales and cricketing stories". There is a 35-page tribute in Australian Folklore, No. 11, July 1996.
Dal Stivens died in Sydney on 15 June 1997.

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