'The Martian' (The Sun, 25 October 1958).

Robert Forrest was a British illustrator for the comics of the Amalgamated Press and Fleetway between 1951 and 1968. He was a prominent artist for the 'Thriller Picture Library', and was also noted for his E.R. Burroughs adaptation 'The Martian' (1958-1959) in The Sun.

Life and career
Not much is known about Robert Forrest's life. His contributions to British comics remained under the radar for many years, despite their skilfull execution. Latter-day research by British comic historians such as Steve Holland (of the Bear Alley blog), David Roach, David Slinn, and John Freeman uncovered many of his contributions. Forrest was born in 1907 (according to the Look and Learn site), and spent many years working for Inland Revenue, the government department responsible for the direct tax collection. He was well in his forties when he switched to illustration, hired by Amalgamated Press editor Ted Holmes to draw 'Kit Carson' on the front page of The Comet in 1951. He had never worked as a professional artist before, but was quickly noted for his natural, action-packed style.

The Three Musketeers by Robert Forrest
The Three Musketeers (Thriller Picture Library #70).

Thriller & Cowboy Picture Libraries
By 1953 he became a prominent artist of historical adventure comics for the AP's digest-sized Thriller Comics title, which later became the Thriller Comics Library and then the Thriller Picture Library. Forrest's first contribution was artwork for 'The Strange Affair of the Lyons Mail' (#30, 1953), written by Leonard Matthews. Many installments with his art followed until 1961; some were original stories, others literary adaptations. His best remembered contribution was a moody rendition of Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' (#148). Other titles illustrated by Robert Forrest were Lord Lytton's 'Paul Clifford' (#46), Rafael Sabatini's 'The Black Swan' (#61), 'The Three Musketeers' (#70), 'The Black Dragoons' (#90), 'Buffalo Bill' (#100), 'The Sea Hawk' (#108), 'Gunman' by Joan Whitford (#211), 'Robin Hood and the Norman Adventure' (#243), 'Gunplay' (#246), 'Branded' (#302) and 'John Steel - A Picture of Guilt' (#375). Forrest was also a regular in the companion western title 'Cowboy Comics', AKA the 'Cowboy Picture Library', contributing mostly to the 'Kit Carson' and 'Buck Jones' installments.


'The Mad Emperor' (Knockout #1121).

Other comics
Forrest was an artist of literary adaptations for other titles too. One of his best-known serials was 'The Martian' in the AP comics weekly The Sun. It was an adaptation by D.R. Morton of the Edgar Rice Burroughs science fantasy novel 'Princess of Mars', published between 25 October 1958 and 23 May 1959. His version of R.L. Stevenson's famous 'Jekyll and Hyde' story was serialized in Top Spot in late 1959. 'The Mad Emperor' was another historical serial, set in the 18th century Russian court. It appeared in 1960 in Knockout, for which Forrest also drew 'The Curse Of Claw Castle' in 1962. In the 1960s, he was also one of the 'Karl the Viking' artists for Lion, a feature drawn most of the time by Don Lawrence. He also drew 'Black Dragon's Perilous Quest' for the 1967 Champion Annual.

Look and Learn
In 1964 Robert Forrest was an illustrator for Fleetway's new religious magazine 'The Bible Story' (1964). After 28 issues, this title transformed into the educational weekly Look and Learn, for which Forrest drew adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' stories 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' and 'The Sign of Four'. In 1968-1969, Look and Learn also ran Forrest's full color story 'The Life and Death of King Richard III', based on the play by William Shakespeare. It was presumably Robert Forrest's final work, since the last chapter was drawn by Eric Parker. The artist passed away in late 1968 (or early 1969).


'The Life and Death of King Richard III' (Look and Learn, 25 January 1969).

Series and books by Robert Forrest in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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