In and Out of Society, by Wep (1934)
'In and Out of Society' (1934).

Bill Pidgeon, aka Wep, was a mid-20th century Australian political cartoonist, painter and occasional comic artist. As a cartoonist, his signature series were 'The Trifling Triplets' (1926) and 'In and Out of Society' (1933). 

Early life and career
William Edwin Pidgeon was born in 1909 in Paddington, Sydney, as the youngest son of a leaded-window maker. Pidgeon's father knew cartoonist Fred Leist personally, who'd become a strong graphic influence on the boy's work. Pidgeon went to the Glenmore Road Public and Sydney Technical High School and briefly spent some time at J.S. Watkins art school and East Sydney Technical College. His first comics appeared in the latter school's paper, but he actually planned to become an engineer. After graduation, Pidgeon worked at Wunderlich Ltd, Redfern, where he came into contact with William Dobell, an advertising draughtman. 

The Sunday News
Pidgeon was only 16 years old when he became a newspaper cartoonist for the Sunday News. His uncle was a dentist and one of his patients happened to be the editor of the paper. From 1924 on he signed his work with the pseudonym Wep, which was derived from his initials. The Sunday News published his comic strip 'The Trifling Triplets' (1926). Soon afterwards the paper folded and Pidgeon went to other Sydney papers like the Daily Guardian, the Sun, The World, who all published his cartoons. He also worked as a political cartoonist in the Daily Telegraph. His comic strip 'In and Out of Society' (1933) ran in the Australian Women's Weekly, for which he also painted many iconic covers, which subtly depicted Australian life. Together with columnist Lennie Lower, Pidgeon formed a humorist team that increased the popularity of Women's Weekly from the 1930s onwards. He also illustrated Colin Wills' book 'Rhymes of Sydney' (1933). He also worked on the initial dummy for the magazine in 1933 and provided comics, cartoons and illustrations in every issue.

"Allied Shooting Gallery" (Sydney Sunday Telegraph, 25 September 1943). The two men behind the counter are Hideki Tojo and Adolf Hitler. 

Australian Consolidated Press
In 1937 he joined Australian Consolidated Press. During World War II Pidgeon was a war correspondent for this paper, sketching the war conditions in New Guinea and Borneo. He did the same for Women's Weekly, featuring many paintings and cartoons depicting the Pacific War Zone. 

Pidgeon won the Archibald Prize for portrait painting three times, respectively in 1958 (of Daily Telegraph chief editor Ray Walker), 1961 (of Rabbi Dr I Porush) and 1968 (of landscape painter Lloyd Rees).

Final years and death
In January 1949 Pidgeon resigned from cartooning, though didn't abandon his creative impulses altogether. He became a portrait painter and still illustrated Nino Culotta's 'They're a Weird Mob' (O'Grady 1957) and other novels. In 1965 Pidgeon was one of the founding members of the Lane Cove Art Society. By 1972 he was forced to quit drawing as he suffered from glaucoma. With amazing will power he still remained a cartoonist and art critic for the Sunday Telegraph from 1974 until 1979. That final year he had a traffic accident near his Northwood home when a car hit him. The aging cartoonist was never the same again and passed away in 1981 at age 72.

Series and books by William Edwin Pidgeon in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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