Harold Hare by Hugh McNeill
'Harold Hare'.

Hugh McNeill was a British comic book artist who worked for the titles of Amalgamated Press and is best known as the creator of 'Pansy Potter, the Strong Man's Daughter' and an artist on 'Deed-a-day Danny', 'Our Ernie' and 'Harold Hare'. Born in Moss Side, Manchester, young Hugh McNeill showed an early talent for drawing. He drew for church magazines, events and a Manchester boxing club while still in his teens. He joined the Kayebon Press art studio at the age of 16, where he stayed until the late 1930s. He was additionally selling cartoons to magazines like Topical Times by D.C. Thomson from late 1957.

Pansy Potter, by Hugh McNeill
'Pansy Potter'.

McNeill was an artist for DC Thomson's comic book The Beano from its first issue in 1938. In that same year, he created 'Pansy Potter the Strong Man's Daughter for the magazine's Christmas edition. The strip ran until the late 1980s, but her corkscrew curls and Popeye arms have been drawn by many different cartoonists who took over from McNeill. The most notable of these successors were Basil Blackaller and Harry Hargreaves.

Our Ernie, by Hugh McNeill
'Our Ernie'.

McNeill left DC Thomson shortly after debuting 'Pansy Potter' and went to work for the Amalgamated Press instead, where he began a steady collaboration with editor Leonard Matthews. He published 'Professor P. Nutts' in Jolly Comic until joining Knock-Out from the first issue in March 1939 with serials like 'Deed-a-Day Danny', Simon the Simple Sleuth' and 'Our Ernie'.

Deed-a-Day Danny, by Hugh McNeill, 1953

During World War II, McNeill was in the Royal Army Service Corps and Royal Engineers. He served as a cartographer in North Africa and traveled around with General Montgomery in his tent, drawing maps. He continued to draw 'Deed-a-day Danny' and 'Our Ernie' while in the army. He continued his collaboration with Knock-Out after the war and also began drawing adventure comics, especially for Sun, for which he drew a 'Dick Turpin' comic, among other things.

Dick Turpin, by Hugh McNeill
Dick Turpin

By 1953 he became one of the main artists for AP's nursery title Jack and Jill. He drew the title strip that appeared on the comic's front page, as well as 'The Happy Days of Teddy and Cuddly the Baby Bears' and 'The Fun and Frolics of Harold Hare'. The latter was the most notable of McNeill's output for Jack and Jill and the character eventually even got its own newspaper strip in 1957 and a comic book titled Harold Hare's Own Paper in 1959, for which McNeill additionally created 'Flopsy Flufftail'. The artist was also present in Playhour Pictures with 'The Wonderful Adventures of Peter Puppet' (1954) and 'Sonny and Sally of Happy Valley' (1956), and in Tiny Tots with 'Bunny Cuddles' (1958).

Jack and Jill, by Hugh McNeill

In the early 1960s, he drew the title comic of the magazine Buster, which he took over from Bill Titcombe. He made the front page comic called 'The Daydreams of Buster' and also the spin-off, 'Buster's Good Deeds'. By then, McNeill trained an assistant called Pamela Cooper to do the inking chores. This gave him time to do the double page spread 'Our Village' in Jack and Jill, as well as 'The Funny Adventures of Nutty Noddle' for Robin.

McNeill dropped the 'Buster' comic in 1962 (leaving it to Angel Nadal) and created 'Tim & Vicky, the TV Twins' for the comic. His other 1960s features include 'Life with Uncle Lionel' in Princess and 'The Trolls' and 'Willy the Wily Wolf' in Tina. McNeill continued to draw 'Harold Hare' into the 1970s as well as creating the occasional new strip such as 'Giggles Galore' and 'Gussie the Girl Guide' for Pixie and 'Meet the Beans' in Bonnie, which was his final creation. A stroke left him unable to draw in 1976 and the artist died in his home in Sussex in November 1979.

Willy the Wily Wolf
Willy the Wily Wolf

Hugh McNeill on the Bear Alley blog

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