About this Archive
Bill Ward (1927-1996) was born in London and lived almost all his life in the city with exception of a three-year tour in the Army. His publishing career began as a copyboy in newspaper publishing before becoming an art editor for children's comics and then a freelance graphic artist. He worked as a graphic artist for Amalgamated Press and Fleetway on children's comics, notably their Thriller series (November 1951 – May 1963). His influences were Burne Hogarth's Tarzan, Hal Foster's Prince Valiant and Milton Caniff.
There is some evidence Ward had his first erotic drawings published discretely in the British physique magazine Male Classics and also in Physique Pictorial. Unusually these were initialled and credited to him by name. It is possible that he also used the pseudonym Tristano. He did not produce sexually explicit works until he had retired from reliance on mainstream comic work. Homosexual sex and images portraying and encouraging it were illegal in the period before 1967. During the 1970s he was working for the Mansell Collection, a commercial picture archive which was housed at 42 Linden Gardens; he was living there with actor Brian Rawlinson in an outbuilding that served as his own studio. The picture library and the house was owned by Louie Boutroy (1903–1993) and run with her unofficial adopted son and protégée George Anderson and his life partner Harold, who also lived at the house.
Ward began to produce strips (King) for both the British and American magazines from about 1976. In Britain these appeared in Him and Zipper magazines under the editorship of Alex McKenna, as well as Sam and Daddy. It was his work for the American magazines Manifest Reader, Stroke and Drummer that made him well known. Apart from King, his characters included the muscular sexual adventurer Drum, a clueless comic character Zeke and Rogan a space cop, as well as illustrations to Robert Payne's The Exchange. His work features in the same issue of Drummer magazine that includes Robert Mapplethorpe's first commissioned cover (issue 24, September 1978) under the editorship of Jack Fritscher.
Collections were published by Alternate Publishing in San Franscisco [The Adventures of Drum, The Fantastic Adventures of Bill Ward] and under the Meat Men imprint of gay comics. The artist was in regular contact with others in the field: he corresponded with Harry Bush and the artist Rex was an admirer and owns work by Ward. In the 1990s, now living in Stratford with his then partner Christie's silver expert Stephen Helliwell, both were diagnosed with AIDS and died within a few months of each other in 1996.
Scope and quantity
Papers & art work of graphic comic artist Bill Ward (1927-1996), including:
- Papers and correspondence from magazine publishers regarding of his erotic comic strips, issues such as censorship and other industry difficulties and personalities.
- Legal correspondence regarding the loss of his original artwork done for American magazines.
- Correspondence regarding personal relationships; correspondence from other erotic artists including Al Shapiro (Allen Jonas Shapiro, known as 'A. Jay', 1932–1987) arts editor at Drummer credited with the first gay comic, Bill Schmeling ('The Hun’, living), Harry Bush (1925–1994) and Charles Kerbs (‘Matt’, died 2002).
- One hundred and forty five mostly A2 pen & Ink or pencil on paper studies and layouts for The adventures of Drum, Rogan Space Cop and others. Many both recto and verso.
- One hundred and twenty-nine mostly A2 pen & ink or pencil on paper erotic character studies. Many both recto and verso.
- Two hundred Smaller Drawings & Sketches including early children’s publication work, 1970s sketches on Fleetway and other note paper and later fragmentary pieces dating to the 1980s plus one oil on paper nude
- Multiple pencil tracings of Ward’s drawings.
- Drawing and single oil on board depicting Stephen Helliwell (Ward’s partner at the time of his death).
- Published reviews, cuttings and interviews with or about Ward and his work.
- Posters and detached magazine pages of his strips and illustrations sorted by publication including a near complete run of The Adventures of Drum, Sam, Him, Bear Hug and others.
- Copies of The Adventures of Drum, The Fantastic Adventures of Bill Ward and Bearhunt Calendar 1993.
- Colour and black and white personal photographs of Ward and portrait photographs including by American AIDS activist photographer Jim Wigler.
- Thirty-two page photograph album compiled by Ward containing sixty-two pre-1970 B & W physique photographs by Athletic Model Guild (Bob Mizer, 1922 - 1992), Spartan of Hollywood/Constantine (Constantine Hassalevris 1913-1981), Western Photography Guild (Don Whitman 1916 – 1998), George Quaintance (1902-1957), Bruce of LA (Bruce Bellas 1909 – 1974), ‘Lon of London’ (William Domenique) and Scot of London (Tom Nicholl).
- Physique photographs of Ward (two by ‘Gerald of Fulham’) and silver gelatin prints featuring artist ‘Tristano’
- Reference images of nudes and types, mostly in the form of scrap books compiled by Ward from magazines.
- Cuttings related to Ward’s children and juvenile work made for Fleetway publications comics.
- Cuttings, publicity photographs and original animation drawings relating to Fleetway’s Disney material including a typescript of a lecture dated 1946 by the Disney animator and animation filmmaker David Dodd Hand (1900-1986) with two acetate cells depicting Bambi.
- Account book with details of payments for erotica work detailing dates, payments, publisher and titles.
- Papers and correspondence from other erotic artists: including Bill Schmeling (‘The Hun’), Harry Bush and Al Shapiro).
- Fleetway Thriller series artwork probably drawn by Ward including ‘Dick Daring’, ‘Tattoo Jones R.N.’, entire 65 page original pen and ink drawings for Fleetway’s comic book titled ‘Stampede’ and proofs for both The Fighting Tornado (Fleetway ‘Thriller’ series No.207) circa late 1950s to early 1960s, and Amalgamated Press’s ‘Davey Crocket’.
- Original watercolour illustrations for Fleetway and its predecessor Amalgamated Press including Peter Pan, cover art for Knight of the Red Eagle (Thriller issue no 172), and illustration for Robin Hood by Ron Embleton (1930-1988).