'Betty and Bill' (22 February 1925)

Ruth Vickery was an Australian artist from Sydney. She was one of the first newspaper comic artists in her home country, drawing the adventures of 'Betty and Bill' (1925-1928) and 'Molly the Mermaid' (1929-1930) for The Sunday Times.

Life
Nothing is known with certainty about her personal life. Sydney's Daily Telegraph mentioned on 19 December 1903 that a Ruth Vickery, daughter of James Vickery, acted as bridesmaid on her brother Harold's wedding in Darlinghurst, one of Sydney's suburbs. A search for those three names on ancestry.com learns that she was presumably born as Ruth Clarice Vickery in Tasmania in 1882. The Sydney Morning Herald of 8 December 1936 reported that the funeral of Miss Ruth Clarise Vickery would be held on that day. It is unknown if Ruth Clarice (Clarise) Vickery is also Ruth Vickery the artist, but the dates and location make this plausible.


The Adventures of Betty with her bush friends, 6 June 1926.

Betty and Bill
Starting in early 1925, Ruth Vickery was a regular contributor to the weekly comics supplement of Sydney's The Sunday Times, called The Funny Side. She was one of the few local cartoonists, along with Harry Julius and later Wynne Davies. Vickery's adventures of 'Betty and Bill' started on 22 February 1925. Betty and Bill were "two very naughty children, always wandering away in the bush by themselves", as the caption underneath the first panel reads. And indeed, already in the third panel, the two mischievous kids walk into a fairy's cave. The first serial ran until 3 May 1925, and was followed by a second one between 28 June 1925 and 2 May 1926. Vickery's comic was the only feature that remained when The Funny Side was renamed to Pranks in August 1925.

Betty and Bill by Ruth Vickery

Bill was absent in 'The Adventures of Betty with her Bush Friends', appearing from 6 June until 27 June 1926. 'Betty and Bill in Fairyland' ran from 24 July 1927 to 29 January 1928. In the following year, Vickery created another magical story, this time starring a mermaid who becomes a girl. 'Molly the Mermaid' appeared from 15 September 1929 until 1 June 1930. Graphically, Vickery's comics were reminiscent of British nursery rhyme picture stories. The colorful panels were filled with kids, talking animals and other fantasy creatures, while the artist used both speech balloons and text captions underneath the image. The speech balloons were dropped in later stories.

Later career
After her work for the Times, she spent some time in England. According to an article in The Australasian of 3 February 1934, she had been "doing work for some of the leading London papers" and was "returning home in March". An article in The Sun on 21 June 1934 noted that in London she had "continued her studies and had work exhibited in the British Homes Industries Exhibition." Back in Sydney, she took up commercial art.


'Molly the Mermaid' (30 March 1930).

Series and books by Ruth Vickery in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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