Anyone who has read girls comics will be familiar with John Armstrong’s work. From his long run drawing for Bella at the Bar, strips in cult favorite comic Misty and a run of covers for Bunty in the 1990s, along with many other strips, he was a prominent contributor to girls comics. Sadly John passed away on 28 August this year. Down the tubes have printed a nice memoriam piece for John which you can read here. Clearly he will be missed, and while John was deserving of more recognition for his work, it is nice to know that he was able to see some of his work reprinted (with credits), with the Rebellion treasury line. First was the Misty reprint of Moonchild and more recently Tammy’s Bella at the Bar.
Until I started this blog, I wasn’t familiar with creator’s names (due to credits regrettably not being given) and there are still many unknown, but lucky some have been tracked down. Of course some artists were able to sneak in a signature in the background, so these days it can be like a “Where’s Wally?” looking for Armstrong’s distinct J.A. signature. When I first started reading comics, while I wouldn’t have known his name, Armstrong’s art was instantly recognisable. When I was younger, probably his work for Bunty covers is where I first noticed him, I was fan of The Comp and really liked his depictions of some of my favourite characters. I’ve found more of his work since and it is always top quality. He is maybe best known for his gymnastic stories due to his work on Bella and I recently covered a late Bunty story he did Secret Gymnast. But he had quite a range, whether it was horse stories, family drama, romance, mystery or historical . His protagonists were often of a working class background and his talent at depicting emotions always came across in the strip. A story from a Bunty annual that stuck with me, is a blind girl that is told by her parents that she is their princess, when she get’s her sight back and sees (in her eyes) that she is not as pretty as a princess she is devastated. Then there was his work on Misty, when I did a list of some of my favourite short stories of that comic, it’s no surprise majority are drawn by him (see that blog post here). There are many other stories that I can see clear in my mind because of his artwork, it would be impossible to pick one favourite, and I can still enjoy reading his old stories (I also look forward to discovering the old stories I haven’t read yet).