Showing posts with label Anzacs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anzacs. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Noel Cook Part One

Approaching the anniversary of the birth of Noel Cook (1897-1981) I wanted to post a few excerpts from a feature in my forthcoming Paper Trail book. As a cartoonist and illustrator Cook was one of the most significant and perhaps under-appreciated to come out of New Zealand in the twentieth century. Cook had varied career as a commercial artist/cartoonist/art editor and painter, producing a large body of work in New Zealand, Australia and England. In researching Cook I've found his life to be every bit as fascinating as the work he produced.

I'll be posting samples from Cook's career on the Pikitia Press tumblr over the next few days as well. Read Cook's first installment of Peter for the Sunday News here.

The following recollections are excerpted from an interview conducted 6th May 2013 with Noel's son Peter Cook.

"You know what artist's are like they cut out everything that they see for ideas. Dad never threw anything away you see (Laughs). Except his paintings, they're the things he did throw away because he gave them to so many relations. He never held onto his paintings. There was one I remember as a tiny kid I had that I've never managed to find. There were some pen and ink drawings he did, I must have been about three years old."

Some of Cook's earliest work were cartoons and illustrations produced for The NZ Observer. This example from May 29th, 1920.

You know he was in the war? the first War? He called it the great adventure. His father was a newspaper proprietor in Auckland, New Zealand. His relations there have a lot of the history. He went with a whole bunch of friends to the war because they didn't separate you in those days, he stayed in the same platoon with them. They all got killed except him in one shell. The only time I remember him talking about it he must have been drunk we were only kids in bed and he was coming to give us a story. He told us a bit about the boys calling out to him, "Give my love...". It was like a boy's adventure story, he was very angry. Two German prisoners of war were carrying him off on a stretcher 'cause he was badly wounded himself and he threw dirt at them and then he felt sorry 'cause he knew it wasn't their fault. A friend of his, another friend had just lost his brother and Dad had taken a prisoner and this friend put a small bomb in his pocket. Dad took it and threw it away. He could understand that a man had just lost his brother and the German kissed him! He always remembered getting that big kiss. He went to England then for convalescence, then back to New Zealand.

Advertisement for Noel Cook's Peter in Sunday News April 3rd 1932

 Noel Cook Cover for Blue Star comic Valley of Doom. Interior comic by Royce Bradford of whom little is known other than he is rumoured to also have been a New Zealander.

I was pretty close to him although I was often angry with him because he couldn't control his drinking. I began to understand. He never forgot that you see. they were his closest friends. So by the time they got back to New Zealand he did get a job in an architects office. He met some other artists, he was always drawing. He used to draw the Rugby teams , The All Blacks and all that sort of thing. He met a bunch of other artists and they all went to Sydney. He was close to his parents 'cause he got letters but he just wanted to get away from the gung ho thing, 'cause everyone was saying, "Oh you're heroes," and he hated all of that because it was a horrible experience. He couldn't go along with that, although he always went to Anzac Day events, but he wasn't happy about it.

Cartoon for the NZ Observer June 12th 1920

The people that he went to Sydney with were Unk White and George Finey, they were great friends of his. The Finey's were quite close to us when we were young, the whole family. Another chap Alex King, he was a good artist, I remember him. Bill Constable was another one, there were quite a few he had some exhibitions with them over here (England) combined with them. When he went to Sydney it was all that black and white stuff, black and white footballers, or politicians, or you name it.

 Armistice Day illustration from the NZ Observer, 13 November 1920.

One picture he did for Armistice Day was a picture of his friends marching up a hill, Ghostly images of ANZACS advancing  through No Mans Land. I've still got that, it was printed in The New Zealand Observer. He had that on his mind a lot. He wasn't sentimental in another way it was deep down with him.

Later when he was working with the Consolidated Press in Sydney, Frank Packer was the boss you know. Dad kissed him in the lift! (Laughs) Frank jokingly kicked him out of lift. A childhood friend of mine, a cadet reporter Andy MacCullough, witnessed this. He was very fond of Dad who enjoyed a great joke with everybody. He was always in the artists room and that's my memories of going into the artist's room and being sat down and being given paper and a pen and seeing the men that had photographs that they washed in the sink. They were my early memories of him at work.

 Excerpted panels from early installments of Peter in the Sunday News 1932

Then he started the space stuff. I think he named me after his first strip, Roving Peter it was called (laughs). He started those and then I came after or just before. I think it was after. I remember We were living in Vaucluse then up on the hill looking out over the pacific and sunny mornings on Sunday reading the comic as it came in the Sunday Sun.

Without my mum I don't think he'd have survived long. He met her at a Mrs Kneebone's Wine Lodge at Circular Quay. She was quite a brilliant pianist, she was at the Conservatorium, and the girls used go down (they wouldn't go to the pub of course) to this wine place. Very unusual in Sydney, I don't remember any but apparently there was, where ladies could go in just like a continental place. That's where he met my mum. I think her parents were worried but all her siblings loved him, he was very jolly with them, and he helped them out a hell of a lot because he never stopped working you see. Everybody was going out of work with the depression and all that.

Images © 2013 Estate of Noel Cook
Text © 2013 Matt Emery

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

David C. Barker

Over the course of his life David C Barker was a wartime cartoonist, illustrator, painter, animator and etcher. He served during World War One with the Australian Imperial Force Light Horsemen.

Born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1888, David displayed an artistic talent from an early age winning first prize in an art competition at Nnill Art School with a bust of Moses. Soon after this his family moved to Sydney where he was enrolled at Fort Street School. No fan of schooling, David preferred to spend his time fishing, or sketching down by the harbour. Once out of school he worked twelve hour days in a soft drink factory whilst attending art school at night. Within months he secured work with publishers, William Brooks and Co and subsequently an apprenticeship with a firm of engravers.
 R.M.S Makura

Upon completion of his apprenticeship David made his way to America via Vancouver, BC, Canada, earning his passage by polishing Brass on the R.M.S Makura. After six months as a waiter in Seattle, David found employment in Philadelphia with The Curtis Publishing Company, publishers of The Ladies' Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, and The American Home amongst others. After a spell in New York he was off again, landing in Paris with only smile.

After the outbreak of World War One, David found himself back in Australia and enlisted in April,1915. Serving with the Anzac's as a stretcher bearer on the Gallipoli Peninsula, David was soon putting his art skills to use as Art editor of The Anzac Book. After having suffered losses and wounded in the thousands soldiers under constant fire, scribbled down writings, illustrations, cartoons and poems to create one hundred and fifty submissions. Adorned with a painting by David, The Anzac Book was a best seller upon its release in 1916.

There is not a lot of information available about the following year of David's life other than being assigned to the British Army in Mesopotamia to work as a Cartographer under the orders of Col. T.E. Lawrence commonly known now as Lawrence of Arabia. They were the same age, perhaps Lawrence and David were friends? Lawrence was a prolific writer, a detailed examination of his work might turn up a trace of David Barker.

David Barker covers for The Kia Ora Coo-ee

In 1918 David served as the Art Editor for The Kia Ora Coo-ee, a service magazine for Anzac troops during World War One, making a significant contribution to the ten issues that were produced over the year until the wars end. Written and edited by Australian and New Zealand troops serving in Egypt, Palestine, Salonica and Mesopotamia, The Kia Ora Coo-ee was printed through a commercial printing establishment in Cairo which allowed for the production of a professional service magazine with the longest and most regular record of publication during the War.

Cartoons by David Barker for The Kia Ora Coo-ee

After the war David was the art editor for Australia in Palestine (Angus & Robertson 1919) and  a founding member of the council of the Sydney Painter-Etchers Society, who he exhibited with, as well as showing etchings and watercolours with NSW Society of Artists in the 1920s. David Barker Passed away in Granville, Sydney, in 1946.

Click on image above to view David Barker animation short Snippy is an Artful Dodger produced c. 1925