Oscar Leo Rawlings was born on 16 May 1918 in West Bromwich, Staffordshire. He has a speech impediment as a child, and his mother died when he was young. He won a scholarship to the Central School of Art, but his confidence was so shot he was unable to make the most of it, and he withdrew at the school's request at the age of 13. The family moved to Blackpool, where Rawlings took evening classes in art. By the age of 17 he had his own business as a scenic and display artist.
He joined the Territorial Army, and trained as a gunner/signaller with the 137th Field Regiment R.A. His regiment was posted to Singapore in 1941, where he was captured by the Japanese. He was able to draw accurately from memory, and was unofficially commissioned to keep a pictorial record of the POW experience. He completed over a hundred paintings and drawings, which were hidden in a stove-pipe buried under his bed. After the war he exhibited his art and lectured about his wartime experiences. In 1972 he self-published And the Dawn Came Up Like Thunder, an illustrated account of his experience as a prisoner of war.
In the 1950s and 60s he drew comics, including strips for DC Thomson's The Victor. One strip, "The Island of No Return" (1965-66) was set in a Japanese POW camp. Other strips he drew for The Victor included "The Sabre-Toothed Slinker" and "The Bubble". He also drew "The Army of the Shadows" for Thomsons' The Hornet, "Young Marvelman" (1956) for L. Miller & Son's Marvelman Family (1956), Robin Hood stories in Captain Miracle (1961), and artwork for Bonanza annuals published by Purnell in the 1960s.
He died in Aylesbury Vale, BUckinghamshire, in the second quarter of 1990.
- Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, p. 141
- Leo Rawlings - a Victor and Hornet artist, Victor Hornet Comics