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"The Pickles", Rainbow, 1908-56

Henry "Harry" O'Neill was born in Marylebone, London, in the third quarter of 1878. His father, Lewis O'Neill, was a signwriter. He first comes to notice as an artist in 1893, when he was runner-up in a drawing competition in the magazine Chums. The winner, Charles Crombie, and the other runner up, Percy Bradshaw, also went on to have careers as black and white artists.

By 1901 he was a professional artist and illustrator. He married shortly after and by 1911 was living in Paignton with his wife Maria, their four children, and a servant. Aside from drawing for magazines like Punch, he also worked in comics, and from 1907 he was almost exclusively a comic artist. From the later 1910s he concentrated on the Amalgamated Press' nursery titles. Strips he drew included:

  • "Slim Jim and Freddie Pieface (c. 1901) in Funny Wonder
  • "Jolly Jack Robinson" (1904-) in Comic Home Journal (later in Butterfly
  • "Scorcher Smith" (1904), "Johnny Jones and the Casey Court Boys" (1904-) and "The Newly-Weds" (1905, an Anglicised knockoff of George McManus' American strip of the same name, previously drawn by Fitzpatrick) in Puck
  • "Tall Thomas and Butterball" (1908-20) and "The Red Lion Scouts" (1910-20) in Comic Life
  • "Patriotic Paul" (1908-20) in Lot-o'-Fun (reprinted in Merry Thought in 1910)
  • "Gay Gus and the Shrimp" (1914-18) in Big Comic
  • "The Two Pickles" (1914-56) in Rainbow, which spawned a series of animated films
  • "Chick's Own Zoo" (1920) in The Chick's Own
  • "Jimmy and Jane" (1921) in Tiger Tim's Weekly
  • "Merry Kids of Merrytime School" (1921) in Merry Moments
  • "Peter and Peggy in Toyland" (1922) and "Teddy and his Wonderful Toys" (1926-36) in Sunbeam
  • "Jackie and his Friends" (1927) in Tiny Tots

He was clearly influenced by George McManus, although his style became simpler as he increasingly drew for a younger audience. He was still drawing comics into the 1950s. It is said that when he retired he emigrated to Australia, settling in Brisbane, but this is unconfirmed.


  • Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 122
  • Len Hawkey, "Master Penmen: H. O'Neill", The Sloperian No 1, 2012
  • Denis Gifford, Encyclopedia of Comic Characters, Longman, 1987

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