Barley Bottom (The Daily Herald, 6 October 1961)

Derek Chittock was a British art critic and portrait painter, known for his work for the British communist party and its newspaper the Daily Worker, as well as the news magazine John Bull. He is believed to have worked as a cartoonist for the leftist Daily Herald later on, using the pen names Droc ('Bennie', 1959-1961) and Lucian ('Barley Bottom', 1961-1964).


Two cover paintings for John Bull (8 October 1956, 2 March 1957), the latter as featured on the cover of Dutch magazine Panorama (13 July 1957)

Painter
Born in 1922, Chittock studied at the Slade School of Art (1942-1947) and the Royal Academy of Arts, where his teachers were British painter and etcher Randolph Schwabe and painter Philip Connard, respectively. Near the end of World War II, the young artist was commissioned to paint two portraits of Admiralty subjects by the War Artists' Advisory Committee. He later became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and worked as an art critic for the communist newspaper The Daily Worker. He resigned from his communist activities after the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. Chittock was on the selection committee of the London-based Artists' International Association for their 'Artists for Peace' series of exhibitions. Under the pen name James Dudley, he painted humorous covers of British post-war life for the news magazine John Bull, inspired by Norman Rockwell's sentimental drawings in the Saturday Evening Post in the USA. Some of these drawings have also appeared on the cover of the Dutch magazine Panorama.


Benny (The Daily Herald, 28 September 1961)

Benny, by Droc
Derek Chittock was most likely also a cartoonist for the leftist newspaper The Daily Herald in London from at least 1959 to 1964. In his index of Daily Herald cartoonists on John Adcock's Yesterday's Papers blog, Leonardo De Sá mentions that Derek Chittock is the real name of the cartoonist "Droc", who was responsible for the short-lived kids' gang comic 'Benny' (1959-1961). The strip debuted on 27 July 1959 and the lead character was introduced as the leader of "the brainiest, zaniest, bunch of kids you'll ever know."


Benny (The Daily Herald, 23 January 1961)

Title hero Benny is an intellectual kid, with both artistic and political talent. In a style very similar to the early 'Peanuts' strips by Charles M. Schulz, most of the humor comes from the kids' grown-up and at times filosophical dialogues, in which they comment on the current-affairs and complain about the hardships of everyday life. Also, Benny's pet dog shows a similar social awareness as his master. 'Benny' ran as 'Bennie' in the Dutch newspaper Het Vrije Volk from 18 October 1960 until 17 April 1961. The British publication ended on 14 October 1961.


Introduction of Bennie in Dutch newspaper Het Vrije Volk on 18 October 1960

Barley Bottom, by Lucian
According to the website Leftontheshelf.com, Derek Chittock shared the pen name "Lucian" with British writer and humorous poet Roger Woddis, with Chittock doing art and Woddis writing duties. Lucian was credited with the 'Barley Bottom' (1961-1964) strip, which brought a satirical reflection of life in Britain through a fictional small town. The series' main hero is the simple and honest, but unambitious farmhand Adam, who is always urged by the town's beauty queen Sally to better himself. 'Barley Bottom' debuted on 18 September 1961. With one month overlap, its publication rhythm has a close fit with that of 'Benny'. 'Barley Bottom' ended on 14 September 1964, around the time when the Daily Herald ceased publication.


Barley Bottom (The Daily Herald, 19 January 1961)

Later life
Later in life, Derek Chittock was the author of the guidebook 'Portrait Painting Techniques' (1979) for Larousse & Company. He passed away in 1986.


Barley Bottom (The Daily Herald, 8 November 1961)

The Daily Herald comic strip index on Yesterday's Papers
Dutch 'Bennie' strips on Ger Apeldoorn's blog

Series and books by Derek Chittock in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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