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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dudley Pout

Edward Dudley Pout was born at Frog Island Farm, Herne, Kent, on 24 November 1908, the 2,000 acre farming estate being owned jointly by Pout’s father and his four brothers. The Pout family moved to various farms, and at the age of 8, young Dudley attended the village school at Swalecliffe where his headmistress recognised his drawing ability and arranged for an interview with the principal of Margate School of Art. He was awarded a full-time Art Scholarship, and at the age of 13 became their youngest ever student. At 15 he left Art School to join the family farming business, and worked enthusiastically for some years before his desire to become a commercial artist could be sated. A new cinema opened in Dover in 1930, and Pout became fascinated by the poster artwork that was used to advertise current and forthcoming features. Tracking down the suppliers, he applied for a job and was taken on by East Kent Poster Services of Dover at the wage of 32/6 a week.

Two years later, aged 26, Pout became Manager of the Stoll Art Studios in Chatham, producing billboards, posters, handbills and press advertisments for the Stoll Empire Theatre. He married Vida Standing in 1932, the daughter of a farming neighbour. His work came to the attention of London publicity magagers who tempted him to Wardour Street where he worked until 1938, providing original posters for the major British film studios. Uncertainty in the film industry led him to take on wider advertising work via a Fleet Street agency; during the War he served in the Metropolitan Police Reserve, which allowed him to continue supplying artwork for film studios until his house was damaged by a 'doodle bug' and the Pouts moved to Orpington, Kent.

After the War, Pout continued to work as a freelance commercial artist, and in the 1950s he found work with the Hulton Press, illustrating stories and features for Eagle and Girl, including 'The Adventure Club' by J. Jeferson Farjeon (1952-53) and 'What's His Name?' (1953) in Eagle and illustrations for the 'Yvette' series by Sylvia Little (1952) and 'Travel Girl' by Molly Black (1952-53) in Girl.

From 1952, he concentrated on drawing strips for Girl, where his work included 'Tess and the Mystery Journey' (1953), 'Pat of Paradise Island' (1953-54), the 'Vicky' series (1954-58) and 'Angela Air Hostess' (1958-61).After these two very successful strips, Pout continued to draw for Girl for another two years ('Sally of the Seven Seas', 1961; 'Prince of the Pampas', 1961; various biographical strips, 1961-62) but, mindful of the decline in sales and concern for his wife's poor health, was forced to leave comic strips behind.

Pout moved back to Kent and resumed farming, specialising in cross-breeding cattle. He retired in 1973 to a small house in Biddenden, Kent, where he painted in oils for pleasure, although he also produced a series of 'Farming in Bygone Days' paintings for a postcard company. Pout lived at Gribble Bridge Lane Farm, Biddenden, Ashford, Kent, where he died on December 12, 1991, aged 83.

Pout wrote a slim book of autobiographical reminiscences entitled The Life and Art of One Man of Kent (1982). The book includes a wide array of Pout's illustrations -- from early cartoons and oil paintings to his film posters, illustrations (for The Leader, The Householder, Britannia and Eve, etc.) and photographs.

He also briefly recalled his days on the Hulton comics thus:

We artists attended the Boys and Girls Exhibition at Olympia, signing autograph books and explaining how the art work for their papers was prepared. Because of the quality of the publication I found that the parents were just as interested and many were also reading the stories.

Books
The Life and Art of One Man of Kent. Rainham, Kent, Meresborough Books, 1982.

Illustrated Books
The Hollys of Tooting Steps by Heather Prime. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1953.

(* The photograph at the top is taken from Pout's book The Life and Art of One Man of Kent and dates from around 1934 -- the advert Pout is working on is for the George Arliss movie The Last Gentleman. 'Angela Air Hostess', this example taken from Carlton's The Best of Girl, is © IPC Media)

3 comments:

D M Ryder said...

I have a large collection of Film Trade Magazines for the 1940's, and they are full of posters with the POUT name on them. Fascinated to find this site and learn more about this prolific and brilliant artist.

Steve said...

Sounds like an interesting magazine. I'm sure many of the paperback cover artists and illustrators of magazines in the 1950s came from the film advertising trade: Sam Peffer, Roger Hall, Derek Stowe and John Vernon certainly did and I'm sure if I put my thinking cap on I would remember others. Old cinema posters aren't something I've collected, but I certainly appreciate them when I see them.

Anonymous said...

He was my grandfather. I'm so thrilled to see this interest in his work. He was
a lovely man.