Derek Charles Eyles was born in Mutforld, Suffolk, on 11 February 1902, the son of Charles Eyles, a painter and illustrator who had worked with the Impressionists in France, and had a brother, Geoffrey Eyles, an illustrator who appears to have died young.
Eyles' colour plates and black and white illustrations began appearing in boys' annuals in the 1920s and 30s. He painted covers and drew interior illustrations for story papers like Wild West Weekly. He also illustrated novels, including an edition of Jack London's White Fang, and children's books, including an edition of Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, and in the 1930s and 40s, painted a series of covers for Collins' western novels.
After the Second World War he was hired by Amalgamated Press editor Leonard Matthews to draw adventure strips for the publisher's comics, beginning with "The Phantom Sheriff" in Knock-Out in 1947, a character whose prose adventures he had previously illustrated in Wild West Weekly. Other titles he contributed to included The Comet, Thriller Picture Library, Cowboy Comics Library, Sun, Radio Fun, Adventures, and Swift. He excelled at drawing horses, which made him particularly suitable for western characters, including Wild Bill Hickok, Kit Carson and Buffalo Bill, as well other historical characters like Hereward the Wake, Robin Hood and Dick Turpin, and new artists were given samples of his work as examples of how to "do horses properly".
In the 1960s he worked mainly in the nursery end of the comics market, on titles like Treasure and TV Toyland, and for girls' titles like Tina and Princess Tina. By the 1970s westerns and other equestrian genres had fallen out of fashion, and Eyles struggled to get work. Suffering from diabetes, he died in Barnet, Middlesex, in December 1974 after an unsuccessful operation.
- David Ashford and Norman Wright, Derek Eyles Art, The Book Palace, accessed 27 December 2011
- Norman Wright and David Ashford, Masters of Fun and Thrills: The British Comic Artists Vol 1, Norman Wright (pub.), 2008, pp. 56-66
- Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 55-57
- Alan Horne, The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators, Antique Collectors' Club, 1994, p. 183
- Denis Gifford, Encyclopedia of Comic Characters, Longman, 1987, p. 241
- Derek C. Eyles gallery, Yesterday's Papers, 24 February 2009