My lovely two weeks of holiday have been followed by two very pressurised weeks at work - and getting used to my commute again was more of a shock to the system than I thought it would be! As a result I was sure another week would go past without a post - but the sun hasn't shone today as expected so I'm sitting inside doing this instead!
Way back in January 2011 the 2nd post I put on my blog was partly dedicated to Princess Marigold. I chose it because this comic strip is one of my earliest and most vivid childhood memories. In those days I was nowhere near as verbose as I am now and I've always wanted to do a follow up on this delightful story.
Princess Marigold lives in the kingdom of Marigoldland. She is married to Prince Strongbow and most of the stories centre on their children Prince Rupert and Princess Rose.
Marigoldland is ruled by the easy going King Florian and there are a number of regular characters who keep everything ticking over nicely - Mr Munch the palace cook, the Lord High Chief of all Indoor Doings, the Lord High Chief of all Outdoor Doings and Green Fingers all add humour and personality to these delightful tales.
All is not peace and harmony in the kingdom though. Every story revolves around the evil machinations of Wicked Wizard Weezle. His attempts to cause mayhem and the children's ingenuity and bravery in foiling him are at the core of each tale.
The first story contains Florian's attempt to find a suitable husband for his only daughter Marigold. It is during this adventure that Marigold meets and offends Wizard Weezle, turning him into a lifelong enemy. The later stories are the ones I am more familiar with where the children play the prominent roles.
This comic strip was a collaboration between three different artists. The earliest are the work of Giorgio Bellavitis (1926-2009) - born in Venice he became art director of Cosmopolitan Artists after WWII, an agency that dealt with a number of British publications. Later issues were illustrated by Luis Bermejo b 1931, a Spanish artist born in Madrid who worked on a number of the publications (Once Upon a Time, Look and Learn etc) that I mention regularly in this blog. Finally Nadir Quinto (1918-1994) produced some full size illustrations. I'm not sure what they were used for but they have the wonderful vibrancy so characteristic of all his work. (The last post I dedicated to Nadir Quinto was The Star Maidens.)
The two illustrations on either side of this paragraph are by Giorgio Bellavitis with the one following by Nadir Quinto.
|Nadir Quinto - illustration for Princess Marigold|
These stories first appeared in a weekly children's publication called Treasure that ran from 1963 to 1971 (or in other words perfectly encompassed my own childhood!) I discovered Treasure accidentally. When I was about 5 years old I went with my mother to visit a friend (or relation - I can't remember which now). What is very vivid in my memory is that we were sitting in their living room and there was a stack of children's magazines next to the fireplace. They were destined for the flames! I can still recall as if it was yesterday what an incredible sacrilege I thought this was. That brightly coloured stack literally represented a treasure trove of untold delight to me - I couldn't believe anyone would want to get rid of them. I asked if I could have the magazines, and my second vivid recollection of the day is how nonchalantly they were handed over to me - and how thrilled I was to go home with my loot!
Princess Marigold was a regular feature of these magazines. I immersed myself into this world completely - the people and the place were real to me and I only realised yesterday when I was looking at these stories again for the first time in many years that I have been searching for the landscape these tales were set in all my life. It is what has brought me to the fairy forests and vales of Ireland and is a world I have never grown out of imagining.
The two stories that resonate with me the most are 'The Magic Broom' and 'The Magic Mirror'. While I decided I would include a complete story at the end of this post both are quite long and so I settled for a different example instead. As an adult I really like the strip shown below - the two illustrations go together very nicely and I love the silhouette effect of the one on the left. I can see the influence of this work on many of the other artists I admire - even the immeasurably great Ron Embleton.
I no longer have my coveted issues of Treasure (my mother had to keep buying issues of the magazine for me until publication ceased.) Many of my prized possessions (like my Carlotta Edward prints) disappeared after we moved house when I was aged 7. I've spent the years since I turned 50 trying to gather them all back into my orbit again!
In the early 90's these stories unexpectedly appeared again in a popular South African magazine (for adults although there was a small children's section) called 'You'. In these pre-internet times I was able (now in my 30's) to enjoy the illustrations all over again. As I have had requests before to include full stories when I put together posts like this, a complete one follows below (I noticed when scanning them the last page has the title in Afrikaans by mistake - they must have got mixed up with their sister publication!) :
What I thought was quite effective in choosing this one is the combination of monochrome and colour illustrations. This story includes the characters of the colour fairies who also appeared in 'The Magic Mirror' .
Treasure also produced an annual of Princess Marigold stories. When the pennies allow I want to treat myself to a copy so I can enjoy these lovely stories all over again! (Image below borrowed from Amazon.)