Monday, 2 September 2013

Dudley D. Watkins

A clear out in the Manse has unearthed two ‘Sparky’ annuals from 1968 and 1969.  All the old favourite characters are there: Pansy Potter, Hungry Horace, The Moonsters etc.  There are, however, one or two surprises.  The 1968 annual has a story, broken up into episodes, entitled ‘David’.  This is the David in the Bible who became the King of Israel.  The 1969 annual has a story entitled ‘The Road To Calvary’ which is about the ministry of Jesus from his baptism to his resurrection.  Both these stories are placed right at the beginning of the annuals.  

It is a measure of how society has changed that it was deemed acceptable to place such material in a children’s annual at that time.  But the esteem in which the artist was held may have a lot to do with it.  Dudley D. Watkins was the foremost comic artist of his day.  It was he who was responsible for ‘The Broons‘ and ‘Oor Wullie‘ along with other classics like ‘Desperate Dan’, ‘Lord Snooty‘ and others too numerous to mention.  He was a Christian, attending a Brethren Assembly in Dundee and contributing work to various Christian publications.  He also liked to give children’s talks which he illustrated on a blackboard.  

It was his ambition to produce an illustrated Bible and it would appear that the two pieces in the ‘Sparky’ annuals were the beginnings of that project.  Sadly, it was never completed.  Dudley D. Watkins died in his home in Broughty Ferry 1969 aged 62.  He suffered a heart attack while working at his drawing board.