The Captain from Castile

Reginald Heade was a British illustrator of sensational paperback novels, but also had a brief career in comics, working for the magazines Knock-Out and Comet, both from the Amalgamated Press. He also published under the name Cy Webb.

He was born as Reginald Cyril Webb in Plaistow, Essex, England in 1901. He began producing covers for the popular magazine Britannia and Eve in 1933, and continued to do so for a decade. Near the end of the 1940s he drew a couple of realistic comics for the magazine Knock-Out, namely 'The Saga of Eric the Red' (1949) and 'The Captain from Castile' (1949). The final installments from the latter story were however credited to Norman Pett. Heade was also one of several comics artists, among them Jos Walker, Eric Parker, Alfred Taylor, Roland Davies, Graham Coton and Mike Dorey, who drew comics based on novelist Harry Blyth's detective character 'Sexton Blake'. Yet in Heade's case his contribution was extremely brief. He only drew one single episode, namely 'Sexton Blake vs. the Astounding John Plague' (1949).

Sexton Blake, by Reginald Heade

In 1952 Heade drew the comic 'Mary Read – Soldier and Pirate' for the Saturday paper Answers. It told the story about a real-life early-18th Century female pirate who spent most of her life masquerading as a man. Heade continued to do occasional fill-in work on other Amalgamated Press titles in the late 1940s and 1950s. In 1954 he drew a 'Robin Hood' serial strip for AP's Sun. This was reprinted in 16 full-colour pages in the 'Robin Hood Annual 1958' (1957), shortly before the artist's death.

Reginald Heade was however mostly praised as one of the best cover illustrators for British pulp fiction books of the 1940s and 1950s. He is best-known for his painted covers with scantily clad ladies for Hank Janson's thriller novels at Gaywood Press. He also worked for Raymond and Lilian Locker's Archer Press, providing covers for Paul Renin's romance novels and gangster books by Michael Storme, Gene Ross and Spike Morelli.

It is not always easy to pinpoint who drew what in British comics. Most stories were printed uncredited, which means that scholars have to assign the proper credits by recognizing the drawing style. Reginald Heade's work is often confused with artwork by Mike Hubbard or W. Bryce Hamilton. For instance, some sources credit Heade for drawing 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' in Knockout (1947), while this was actually Hubbard. He is also often listed as the artist of 'Journey to Jupiter' (1952-1953) in Comet, while this story was drawn by Hamilton instead. The artist passed away in West Ham in 1957. Stephen James Walker compiled a lavishly illustrated overview of Heade's work as a pulp illustrator and comic artist under the title 'The Art of Reginald Heade' (Telos Publications, 2016).


Mary Read

Reginald Heade on downthetubes.net

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