While looking at the different book covers PAN produced for Dashell Hammett’s ‘The Maltese Falcon’ over several years I was reminded that the 1951 edition had a cover by Philip Mendoza. Surprisingly Mendoza was also the artist for the ‘Gulliver the Guinea Pig’ comic strip in the Playhour comic from the 50’s/60’s. This made me search out some original artwork I had from Playhour but mine features ‘Harry Hamster’ and is by either Peter Woolcock or Colin Wyatt who both drew Harry. This 1961 Annual frontispiece above shows Harry with Sammy Stoat and Wally Weasel. The ability to turn ones hand to whatever pays is something I really admire about a lot of the artists who painted covers for paperbacks be it coins, stamps, corporate brochures or even wine bottle labels! I have found six different covers for ‘The Maltese Falcon’ including the film edition and one as a Hammett omnibus from Picador. Other PAN titles with covers by Mendoza include‘The Great Impersonation’ by Phillip Oppenheim, ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ by H Ryder Haggard, ‘Valley of Fear’by Arthur Conan Doyle and ‘Towards Zero’by Agatha Christie. . Footnote Unfortunately Peter Woolcock was knocked down and killed by a car in Bermuda last December but I’ve emailed Colin Wyatt so hopefully may have an answer to the burning question of the moment “Who painted Harry?” . Update Just had a fantastically fast and very informative response to my email from Colin in which he says; . Dear Tim, Thanks for your interesting email. The artwork on the attachment you sent was done by Peter Woolcock. It was originally done as a black and white strip in Playhour sometime in the late 1950’s, but then coloured at a later date and reprinted. Peter did a lot of work for the young children’s comics for IPC at that time. This included Willow Wood, a two page strip in Playhour that featured Harry Hamster. . My first ‘Harry On His Own’ strip for Playhour was done in October 1960. I was member of the art staff on Playhour at the time, and I continued to do the strip on and off for several years. (I still have the original artwork for that first strip.) You are right, Phil Mendoza was the original artist on Gulliver Guinea Pig, and he was superseded by an artist named Gordon Hutchings who did some truly marvelous artwork. Your website sounds really interesting so good luck with it. Very best wishes, Colin.
Update Just had an email from Colin, since reading this blog, to say Peter Woolcock also painted ‘Gulliver the Guinea Pig’ and in fact the example I used was one by Peter and not Philip but since then I’ve done a recheck on sources and found a site that says it is by Gordon Hutchings!