Radio Times Strip

Captain Pugwash for Radio Times magazine


Cartoon strip from 1960 until 1965

Two major events happened on the Captain Pugwash front in 1957:

Pugwash fairy godmother strip

The Bodley Head published Ryan’s first of many books for children: Captain Pugwash – A Pirate Story, and, BBC Television commissioned the first of 58 five-minute Captain Pugwash episodes using Ryan’s unique manually-operated cardboard cut-out puppets.

In that same year, to promote the start of the TV Pugwash series, Ryan drew for the BBC’s Radio Times a number of cartoons depicting the adventures of the bumbling pirate and his crew. Additionally, between earnest production in his studio of the TV animations, and other commissioned artworks, Ryan drew 41 weekly Pugwash cartoon strips for Swift magazine. 2 years flew by, and then the Radio Times asked for more Pugwash cartoon strips to run concurrent with the TV series. These lasted solidly for eight years until 1965 – nearly 400 cartoon strips!

Within a maximum of 6 comic frames per strip, Ryan raised a laugh weekly with the hopeless yet lovable pirate. Using rapidograph pens and indian ink on white card, he created shadow effects with different grades of zipatone film overlay, as it printed better than a grey watercolour wash.

Captain Pugwash playing leapfrog

Here are some typical cartoons themes: ‘Put em UP!’; Pirate Radio Station’; ‘Desert Island Disks’; the Laughing Cavalier; ‘Climbing the Rigging’, ‘Shipping Days to Christmas’, The Tower of London’s Crown Jewels, and ‘Figure Head – Head for Figures’. Sometimes Ryan ran out of funny ideas, and then any of his friends and relations who thought up a drawable idea were heartily thanked and meticulously remunerated for their efforts.

On display in the exhibition: 4 original Radio Times strips, on permanent loan to Rye Art Gallery (not illustrated).