The Funny Little Man | Roy Newby | Comic Artists | 1920s Artists

T H E   L I F E


ROY NEWBY was born in 1912, his parents music-hall and variety performers. He grew up an only child in London, where he lived nearly all his life. A talented artist, having trained at Bolt Court (later the London College of Printing), he was employed by his first commercial studio in the 1920s, aged 15, and built a successful career during the 1930s as a ‘commercial artist’ (nowadays, graphic designer and illustrator). He drew everything from technical catalogues to Guinness advertisements, from Communist Party posters to Vogue illustrations before the advent of fashion photography. 

In the Second World War, he was a soldier in the Royal Engineers, servicing searchlights through the blitz. Ironically, almost all his early work, which he had put into store, was destroyed in a bombing raid.

Following a motor-cycle accident, he was sent to recuperate in a hospital on the South Wales coast. There he met a nurse, Marjorie, and they married in 1944.

After the War, now with their young children, Michael and Clare, the family moved to Putney, south-west London, where Roy worked in the front room of their house, taking on a range of commissions, mainly illustrating children’s comics. For many years, he drew Robbie of Red Hall, a serial in Girl, a Hulton Press publication. Later, he illustrated serials in romance magazines (Valentine, for example) for teenage girls and young women. Throughout this time, he would return to his main love - painting - building up a collection of oils and water-colours, many of which appear here.

His work displays an astonishing variety of style and skill. The ‘jobbing commercial artist’ could, after all, draw and paint anything you wanted, and it shows in the range and quality of his extensive output. In this sample, you can see images of childhood innocence, rich portraiture, mellow landscape and whimsical fantasy. Here is an artist of prodigious range and natural talent.




(to be continued ...)