Captain Pugwash for Eagle

Eagle Pugwash strip

Captain Pugwash for Eagle magazine


Cartoon Strip 1950

In January 1950 John Ryan married fellow artist Priscilla Blomfield whom he had met at art class at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London.  An impecunious friend who could not afford a wedding present gave them instead an introduction to the Reverend Marcus Morris. He was starting a new magazine for boys called Eagle – in response to a general feeling that comics imported from the USA could be improved upon in both the moral sense and in the draughtmanship.This introduction was the start of a long and productive relationship with The Hulton Press who published Eagle and its sister magazines Girl, Swift and later Princess.

John Ryan's accounts

Ryan created a funny black and white strip cartoon, for each of which he was paid ten guineas. The fee was most welcome at a time when the newly married Ryan had turned down a secure job as permanent art master at Harrow school in order to pursue his career as a commercial artist. This was the birth of Captain Pugwash. Ryan later said that he never knew exactly where this famous-to-be pirate character emerged from  – but there he was on every page:  unshaven, shambolic, greedy and possessed of a motley crew and a very disagreeable wife! At this stage, Tom the cabin boy had not yet achieved his future status as resourceful outwitter of Pugwash’s arch enemy, Cut-throat Jake.

After a short run – 19 episodes running from March until August 1950 in Eagle, Pugwash was retired for being too juvenile and replaced with Harris Tweed.

On display in the exhibition: 1 original ‘rough’ and originals for three early Eagle strips (facsimile of one original illustrated top right), all on permanent loan to Rye Art Gallery.