Monday, May 28, 2012

John Joseph McNamara

John McNamara self portrait showing travel between Woking (England) and Wellington (New Zealand) 1969

John McNamara was born 18th April 1918 and began his illustration career in his teens drawing caricatures of film, sporting and local personalities for numerous magazines including Paramount Theatre of Stars (1935), Standard (1936), Radio Record, New Zealand Sporting Life and Referee, Junior for NZ, Boys and Girls (1937-38), Clarion (1938), Cappicade (1937-39) and Katipo (1940). McNamara was a member of the New Zealand Cartoonist's Association which appears to have only existed for several years prior to World War Two.

 Life among the Japanese at Featherston. The New Zealand Listener, 11 January 1944.

After the War McNamara was Prinicipal cartoonist for Wellington morning daily The Southern Cross (1956 - 1951). McNamara's cheeky little Maori character was a recurring feature of the paper.

McNamara moved to England in 1950 and found work in British newspapers. The full extent of McNamara's work in England is unknown. McNamara worked for Amalgamated Press drawing issues of Thriller Comics, ranging from adaptations of Westward Ho!, The Red Badge of Courage and Hopalong Cassidy to the adventures of Dick Turpin and Robin Hood.  Two other early strips possibly published in the Daily Mail featured "Bats" Belfry, which had a horse racing background and involved bet setting and detective work, and an adaption of C. S. Forester's character Horatio Hornblower.

From the mid fifties to the early seventies Mcnamara illustrated the newspaper strip Paul Temple based on the popular BBC radio serial. McNamara died in Surrey in February 2001, aged 82.

 Original art featured in Southern Cross newspaper (1946-1951)

Caricature of radio broadcaster Colin Scrimgeour 1937

One of the most popular crime series of the 1950s and 1960s was Francis Durbridge's Paul Temple. Featured in the London Evening News since 1951, originally drawn by Alfred Sindall and subsequently by Bill Bailey with McNamara assuming illustration duties from 1954 until 1971. In the final years of the strip McNamara adjusted the look of his lead character to resemble Francis Matthews, who portrayed Temple in the Paul Temple BBC TV series (1969-71).

Steve Holland has serialised two Paul Temple adventures by John McNamara and Francis Durbridge on his Bear Alley Blog.

McNamara's work on Paul Temple is not generally available in print although many of his stories can be purchased from the All Devon Comic Collectors Club. A Society dedicated to preserving the sadly neglected English newspaper strips, The ADCCC are authorised to sell booklet reprints of Paul Temple and other strips exclusively to their membership. Details are available from The Newspaper Comic Strip Library website.

The following original art boards are for sale from the comicartfans page of Peter Hartung. Click to embiggen to see the exquisite detail McNamara put into his work.

Sources: , , Peter Hartung , Bear Alley Blog. The Unauthorised Version A Cartoon History of New Zealand 1840 - 1987 2nd edition - Ian F. Grant.

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