Freddie the Frog

Jim Turnbull was a Scottish cartoonist, who work appeared in the Glasgow newspaper The Herald for many years. Prior to this, he had been a funny animal comics artist for the nursery titles of the Amalgamated Press/Fleetway Publications and DC Thomson. When related to his comics work, he is generally (and erroneously?) referred to as "Douglas Turnbull".

James Turnbull was born in 1930 in Maryhill, Glasgow, as the son of a railway worker. The family later moved to Pollokshields where he attended Albert Road school. He took evening classes at Glasgow and Guildford Shools of Art, where he was trained as a lithographic artist. He served part of his national service in Suez. He possibly joined the Amalgamated Press in the late 1950s, and stayed with the company after it became Fleetway Publications during the early 1960s. Since British comics artists were scarcely allowed to sign their work, and generally asked to copy another artist's style or a housestyle, it is still difficult to pinpoint exact credits.


Freddie the Frog, presumably by Turnbull

Turnbull was one of the artists drawing the adventures of 'Freddie the Frog' in Jack & Jill, when the original artist Peter Woolcock took a break from it in the early 1960s. Other artists involved with the feature were Gordon Hutchings and the Italians Antonio Lupatelli and Sergio Asteriti. In Playhour, Turnbull drew stories based on the TV show about the two pigs 'Pinky & Perky'. He was also one of the artists of Playhour's 'The Merry Tales of Mimi and Marny', another featured originated by Woolcock. Turnbull later appeared in the nursery titles of competitor DC Thomson, such as Bimbo and Magic. He was the artist of the series 'Old McDonald's Farm' (Bimbo, 1964), and one of the artists drawing 'Cuddly and Dudley' (Magic, 1970s). The latter was a spin-off starring the niece and nephew of The Dandy's 'Biffo the Bear', drawn by Dudley D. Watkins.


Mimi and Marny from the Playhour Annual 1964, presumably by Turnbull

He started his career as a daily newspaper caricaturist with the Daily Record in the mid 1960s. He did his first contribution to the Glasgow Herald in 1969 and stayed with this newspaper over 30 years. He drew both humorous and political cartoons for this newspaper. Typical for his work was his depiction of Scotland as a "feart lion", with a nod to the Cowardly Lion from Frank L. Baum's novel 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'. Following the abortive 1979 referendum for a proposed legislature for Scotland, the artist felt his country was like a scabrous lion in a cage with an open door. In the 1990s he made the illustrations for Charlie Allan's 'Farmer's Diary' book series (Ardo Publishing Co Ltd). He was also an avid painter, making many works during his travels to Italy. Jim Turnbull passed away in January 2005 at the age of 74.

Series and books by Jim Turnbull in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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