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"Abbott and Costello" from Film Fun, 1940s

Walter Hugo Bell was born on 22 January 1893 in Leyton, London, went to school in Newcastle and won an art scholarship to Armstrong College. He served in the cavalry in the First World War, winning the Military Medal, and when he was demobbed he joined Byron Studios as a commercial artist. His first cartoon was published in the Daily Chronicle in 1920.

He admired Tom Browne and emulated his style, and soon Amalgamated Press editor Langton Townley hired him to fill in for Browne on "Weary Willie and Tired Tim" in Illustrated Chips. He went on to draw "Casey Court" for the same title for ten years. His work also appeared in Sunbeam (1922), Lot-O'-Fun (1926), Tiny Tots (1927) and Crackers (1929).

In 1931 he created The Holiday Comic almost single-handed for rival publisher C. Arthur Pearson. This was followed by The Christmas Comic (1931-33), The Spring Comic (1932-1934), The Summer Comic (1932-1938) and others. Back at AP, he drew covers for Knock-Out beginning with the first issue in 1939, and also drew for Happy Days and Film Fun, for which he drew "Abbott and Costello", taking over from the late G. W. Wakefield, and he produced numerous one-off comics for small publishers in the late 40s.

His style was falling out of fashion by the 50s and he tried to retire, but was soon drawing cartoons for his local newspaper, The Barnet Press. He was also a fine painter, and wrote an autobiography which was never published. He died in Barnet on 2 November 1979.


  • Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, pp. 15-16

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