'Marina, Girl of the Sea' (Lady Penelope #33, 3 September 1966).

Rab Hamilton, AKA Robert Hamilton, was a British comic artist, working for Fleetway romance titles during the 1950s and 1960s. He later moved over to other comic papers, most notably TV Century 21 and Lady Penelope, for which he made comic features like 'Secret Agent 21' (1965-1969) and 'Marina, Girl of the Sea' (1966-1967). During the 1970s, his comic output shifted to the Dutch market, where he worked with writer Andries Brandt on the newspaper comic strip 'Aafje Anders' (1972-1973) and three 'Kitty' (1974-1975) serials for Tina magazine.

Identity
Not much is known about the artist Hamilton. His real name was Alex Hamilton, but his British comic work was made as either Bob Hamilton or Rab Hamilton. On John Freeman's Downthetubes blog, it is suggested that "Rab" was either a Scottish abbreviation for Robert, or derived from the artist's initials (Robert, Alex, B?). Rab Hamilton largely disappeared from the British comic scene around 1973; the same time that Robert Hamilton began working for Dutch comics. Both Rab and Robert Hamilton were specialized in girls' comics and working in a similar, elegant style, making it likely that both Hamiltons are one and the same person.


'Ann and Pam' (Roxy #215, 21 April 1962).

Romance comics
It is unsure how and when Rab Hamilton's career started, but his first known appearance in the pages of Valentine was in the very first 1957 issue with the short story 'Whatever Will Be Will Be'. Until the mid-1960s, Hamilton remained a regular illustrator and comic artist in Fleetway's romance titles, also including Marilyn, Roxy, Serenade and Sindy. Besides illustrated features, he drew comic series like 'My Sister's Impossible Husband' (1961-1964) in Marilyn, and the fashion strip 'Ann and Pam' (1962-1963) in Roxy.

I'm Patti, by Bob Hamilton
'I'm Patti'.

I'm Patti
Between October 1959 and August 1961, Hamilton made the newspaper strip 'I'm Patti' (1959-1961) for the Daily Mirror. It replaced Norman Pett's sexy 'Jane' (1932-1959), who had boosted the morale of UK soldiers during World War II, but had by now turned into a chaste soap opera, drawn by Michael Hubbard and written by Ian Gammidge. In the final episode, Jane married her Georgie, and left her spot in the paper to Hamilton's modern teenager Patti. Running away from her Bruddersfield home to "find out what makes the Bright Lights twinkle," Patti appeared in seven serials during Rab Hamilton's 22-month tenure with writer Jenny Butterworth. The strip is generally attributed to "Bob Hamilton", but this might be an error originating from the listing in Denis Gifford's 1971 book on British newspapers, 'Stap Me!'. In the end, Patti failed to make the audience forget the popular Jane, prompting the paper to drop Hamilton's strip and reboot Jane with the new strip 'Jane, Daughter Of Jane' (1961-1963), drawn by Dutchman Alfred Mazure and written by Les Lilley.


'Secret Agent 21' (TV Century 21 #26, 17 July "2065").

TV Century 21
By 1965, Rab Hamilton left the romance comic books and made his appearance in the new weekly comic TV Century 21, published by City Magazines and built around the popular puppet TV shows by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, most famous for 'ThunderBirds'. Hamilton was the artist of 'Secret Agent 21' (1965-1969), the magazine's longest-running feature, starring Universal Secret Service agent Brent Cleever in the year 2046. Debuting in issue #21 of 12 June 1965 (the futuristic cover date says 2065), the stories were written by the magazine's editors, subsequently Alan Fennell and Tod Sullivan. In January 1968, TV Century 21 was retitled to TV21, and the feature continued under the name 'Mr. Magnet', but reverted to its original title before concluding in the final issue on 6 September 1969.

Rab Hamilton was also present in TV Century 21's sister title Lady Penelope. With editor Alan Fennell, he most notably made the backcover serial 'Marina, Girl of the Sea' (1966-1967), a prequel spin-off to the Anderson TV series 'Stingray' (1964-1965), starring Marina, the mute young woman from the undersea city of Pacifica. Other features Hamilton drew for Lady Penelope were 'The Girl from UNCLE' (1967) and 'Class Six Sterndorf' (1968).

Return to girls comics
Rab Hamilton continued to work in British comics during the 1970s. He drew 'Joe 90' for Joe 90: Top Secret (1969) and made one-shot stories for the sci-fi title Countdown (1971). During the 1970s, he also made a comeback to girls' comics, appearing in Bunty, Diana, Judy, Jinty, June, Mandy, Sally and their annuals. Besides one-shot stories, Hamilton's main body of work was for Judy, for which he made the sporadically appearing 'Big Spender' feature (1974-1985), the 'Gentle Jenny' series (1972) and the 'Janet on Wheels' serial (1977).


Aafje Anders - 'De vrije tv-zender' (1972).

Aafje Anders
Even though by now Rab Hamilton stories have been identified in British girls' magazines well into the 1980s, the artist largely disappeared off the radar in 1973. In the previous year, an artist by the name of Robert Hamilton had made his debut on the Dutch comic market as the second illustrator of the Amsterdam adventures of the cheeky Aafje Anders, with her out-of-the-box solutions and recalcitrant nature. 'Aafje Anders' was a production of the Marten Toonder Studios, at the time the main supplier of Dutch newspaper comics, developed by staff writer Andries Brandt for newspaper De Telegraaf. Hamilton took over midway the fifth story, when the original artist Jan van Haasteren quit. Hamilton was suggested to Brandt by Marten Toonder himself, the studio's former patron who at the time resided in Ireland. According to an interview in a 1985 'Aafje Anders' book collection, Hamilton brought the comic exactly the right style and atmosphere Brandt envisioned. Still, Brandt couldn't afford Hamilton for the full job, so the Brit only penciled and inked the characters and gave rough outlines for the backgrounds. To save costs, the finished background art was done by Toonder staffer Richard Klokkers.


'Kitty' (Tina #37, 1974).

Tina magazine
However, 'Aafje Anders' was no success. Every attempt to sell the strip on the British market failed. The feature came to an end after ten stories - six of which drawn by Hamilton and Klokkers - on 17 April 1973. In that same year, the Toonder Studio's shut down their comic strip department. Andries Brandt became a prominent freelance scriptwriter for the girls' magazine Tina - originally a translated edition of the British Princess Tina, but since the early 1970s thriving on a fruitful local production. In 1974, Hamilton renewed his association with Brandt at Tina magazine, making three 44-page serials about the everyday adventures of 'Kitty' (1974-1975). Robert Hamilton was also supposed to take over drawing Tina's title comic, 'Tina en Debbie', written by Brandt and drawn by Purita Campos. For unknown reasons, it never happened, as Campos continued to draw the serial until well into the 21st century. In 1977, Hamilton drew another serial for Tina, 'Brigit en de Mini's', about a girl who has to hide a group of mini aliens that landed their mini spaceship in her bedroom.

Later life
According to Andries Brandt, Robert Hamilton later turned to making storyboards for advertisements. In the mid-1980s, he was back working for Tina as an illustrator for the 'Boel Boek' series of specials, but from then on, Robert Hamilton's whereabouts are unknown.


'Brigit en de Mini's' (Tina #35, 1977).

Rab Hamilton on Downthetubes.net

Series and books by Rab Hamilton in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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