Thursday, August 22, 2013

Video: New Zealand Cartoonist Noel Cook on The Great War

A 1940s era Noel Cook gag cartoon from Australian Woman's Weekly. More at the Pikitia Press blog.

Noel Cook was born in 1896 in New Zealand to an Australian mom and a New Zealand dad. His father, William Thompson Te Rauparaha Cook, established the Taumarunui Press. For Noel, this meant there was always a great pile of paper at hand to draw on.

During his late teens, Noel worked as a clerk for a brief time. Lying about his age, he entered The Great War.

In 1922, he emigrated to Australia working, as he had in NZ, as a cartoonist for the major newspapers. He also wrote and illustrated over 100 children's books.

He may have had the first sci fi comic strip too. From "Noel Cook, veteran comic illustrator : an "International Year of the Child" exhibition : Auckland City Art Gallery, May 5-June 17, 1979:"

 In 1923 he created the strip Peter and the Other Roaming Folk for Sunday Times . On the strength of this the Sydney Sunday Sun gave him a half page in full colour for Peter's "Fantastic adventures on Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Venus and other planets and Asteroids". Peter is notworthy as the earliest of space comics. Most of the original art has been lost for Peter, two house fires having ravaged Noel's archives of original art. Colour printing proofs were used for the exhibition. Noel could work fast over long hours, often completing fifty pages per month.

The creator of FELIX THE CAT, Pat Sullivan, impressed with the Peter strip, asked if Cook would move to New York City to launch the feature for the Bell Syndicate. Cook declined, saying he was perfectly happy in Australia. 

Above: a pulp illustration by Cook. More here.

In the 1940s, he moved to England, and "free-lanced in Fleet Street."

Here is Noel's son, Peter, recalling a war story of his Dad's.

Mr. Cook died in 1981

Pikitia Press' blog has a selection of Noel Cook's "Deeds That Thrilled Australia," which appeared in Australian Woman's Weekly in 1941. 

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