Leo the Friendly Lion, by Bert Felstead
'Leo the Friendly Lion' (Playhour, 5 September 1964).

Bert Felstead was a mid-20th century British animator, illustrator and comic artist, who signed most of his work with the pseudonym "Fel". He is best-known for making funny animal picture stories for the pre-school magazines of the Amalgamated Press and IPC, such as Playhour and Jack and Jill. 'Leo the Friendly Lion' (1961) was most likely Felstead's longest running feature. Along with Ian Gammidge he also created the children's newspaper comic 'Little Joe' (1973-1976) for The Daily Mirror.

Animation career
He was born as Herbert Felstead. In the 1940s he worked as an animator at Gaumont British Picture Corporation, where he directed the series 'Animaland' (1947-1949) and 'Musical Paintbox' (1948-1949). The company received some help from Disney animator and director David Hand who gave them valuable advice. When the studio was shut down over financial difficulties, Felstead started a second career as an illustrator. He livened up the pages of numerous magazines, such as Listen With Mother (1952), Bedtime Nursery Pictures and Stories (1953), Little Robin Hood Annual (1954), My First ABC (1955) and Pop-Up Pictures ABC, all published by Juvenile Productions Ltd.

Teddy & Cuddly, by Bert Felstead
'Teddy & Cuddly' (Jack and Jill, 1962).

Pre-school magazines
During the the 1950s and the 1960s, Felstead was a regular illustrator for the pre-school comic magazines published by the Amalgamated Press and IPC, such as Jack and Jill, Playhour and Harold Hare's Own Paper. On 8 December 1956 he made his debut in the AP's Jack and Jill, succeeding Hugh McNeill as the artist of 'Teddy & Cuddly', a text comic about two bear cubs. For the same magazine he occasionally filled in for Bernard Long's 'Fliptail the Otter' (1967), a text comic which started on 15 April 1967. For Playhour he filled in on 'Wink & Blink, the Playful Puppies' (1959-1960), before launching his own 'Leo the Friendly Lion' (on 25 February 1961), which was colored by Roger Hutchings, and then 'Pam's Supermarket' (1965). 'Leo the Lion' was later reprinted in Bonnie too. He was also present in IPC's Harold Hare's Own Paper, for which he drew episodes of 'Moony of the Moon' (1960), 'Pinky & Perky' (1960) and 'Snuggles, the Story of a Little Bear' (1962).

In the early 1970s he collaborated with Ian Gammidge on 'Little Joe', a newspaper comic about a little puppy which appeared in London's The Daily Mirror from 15 April 1973 until 30 November 1976. A book version was published by Mirror Group Books in 1975. Felstead furthermore illustrated the books 'My Favourite Nursery Rhymes' (1977) and 'Time for Play' (1977).

Debut of 'Little Joe' in The Daily Mirror on 15 April 1973.

Bert Felstead on the Bear Alley blog

Series and books by Bert Felstead you can order today:


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