Monday, 9 January 2012

Modern Wonderland with L Ashwell Wood

Today we revisit the pages of Modern Wonder magazine in 1938-39 and focus on the work of Leslie Ashwell Wood. The editors of Modern Wonder had a team of highly skilled illustrators at their disposal but nobody brought such a stunning exactitude to the cutaway drawing as the man who signed himself L Ashwell Wood. The brilliance of his graphic eviscerations made him the first choice as cover artist in 1938-39 as this selection shows. When he delved beneath the surface of everyday reality, as in the petrol station drawing the results were every bit as fascinating as his responses to the great engineering wonders of the age. A sure and certain indicator of a mid-century middle class childhood was a subscription to the high-minded Eagle comic. This was the respectable face of comics but one of its greatest features was the weekly cutaway drawing from L Ashwell Wood that formed a double spread across the centre pages. Like many of my peers I was absorbed in these infinitely detailed images while elsewhere in the town others of my contemporaries sharpened their invective skills via the scurrilous humour to be found in the pages of The Topper, Beezer, Dandy or Beano. Many of the Eagle drawings have been anthologised and republished in recent decades but the Modern Wonder drawings, the very best he ever produced, remain unpublished as yet.

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