Parsley the Lion – Story Book Illustrations

First published in 1972 by, the aptly named, Young Lions, ‘Parsley The Lion’ was a story book to tie in with the popular Herbs TV spin off ‘The Adventures of Parsley’. The book was written by Michael Bond and lovingly illustrated by Ivor Wood throughout.

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

This second edition of ‘Parsley The Lion’ was printed in 1987 and features Ivor’s colourful illustrations on the front cover. The first edition featured a still from the show, portraying Parsley and Dill fixing his car from the episode ‘Parsley’s Breakdown’.

At FimFair, producer Graham Clutterbuck, actively encouraged his staff to take on a variety of different jobs and this often meant illustrating the various programmes they created for books and merchandise. In his time at the studio Ivor produced illustrations not only for The Herbs and Adventures of Parsley but The Wombles and Paddington in his trade mark sketchy line.

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Sir Basil, Lady Rosemary and Constable Knapweed

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Parsley the Lion, Dill the Dog and Sage the Owl

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Parsley the Lion and Dill the Dog in Parsleys Car

The drawings were often sketched and painted on two layers to give the printer and publisher options to print in colour or black and white. As we see in some of the illustrations Ivor has used watercolour to add vibrancy and pick out the recognisable shades of all the characters.

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Another book does exist within the same collection named ‘Parsley Parade’ which also looks to be illustrated by Ivor but copies are short so this maybe a post for another day.

 

Introducing Charlie Chalk

I couldn’t resist it any longer, Charlie Chalk is by far my favourite of all Ivor Wood’s creations and one that entertained me all throughout my childhood despite only having graced our screens for 13 episodes.

Charlie Chalk from HIT Entertainment Promo 1988

Charlie Chalk from HIT Entertainment Promo 1988

Created by Ivor’s own studio Woodland Animations, Charlie Chalk was to be the last original show he was to produce. The only other production that Ivor was to be significantly involved with before selling the studio was the second series of Postman Pat. Charlie Chalk still remains Ivor’s only programme that he himself devised, designed, directed and produced from scratch. The rest were either co-created (Magic Roundabout) or adapted from existing stories. Whilst script written by Jocelyn Stevenson, all the characters, concepts and style were from his own eccentric mind and it was truly a culmination of a life’s work boiled down in to something truly special.

Whilst digging around in Ivor and Josiane’s loft we came across this short pamphlet produced by HIT Entertainment to tell the world of Charlie Chalks arrival. It describes in loving detail what the programme was all about and how, most importantly Charlie arrived on this surreal island full of slightly absurd and curious characters. From the loveable but clumsy Arnold to the bossy and leader of Merrytwit, Captain Mildred, there is constant surprise around every corner.

Charlie Chalk from HIT Entertainment Promo 1988

Charlie Chalk from HIT Entertainment Promo 1988

Whilst all of Ivor’s creations feature a touch of the surreal, even Postman Pat has his moments, Charlie Chalk truly takes things to another level. In talking to both Ivor’s widow Josiane and their son Sean it is commonly agreed that Charlie Chalk was Ivor’s true character coming through and his own personal favourite. He was to most quite a gentle and relaxed man but as Sean goes onto explain it was at home that he really came to life. Sean remembers as a child once being really embarrassed as Ivor took him by the hand and began to skip down the high street. It seems he was forever waiting to let his eccentricity out and finally in Charlie Chalk he found a vessel to overflow.

Charlie Chalk from HIT Entertainment Promo 1988

Charlie Chalk from HIT Entertainment Promo 1988

As previously mentioned the show only went on for 13 episodes but was repeated on the BBC a few times after it’s original release. All the episodes are now on DVD so from whatever generation you are, and however eccentric you wish to be, Charlie Chalk will always be around to add that extra magic.

We have some goodies from the Charlie Chalk archive to show you all so stay tuned for further posts on this happy go-lucky clown.

Ivor Wood drawings for The Wombles music

First of all a big thanks to everyone who got in touch about last weeks post on Great Uncle Bulgaria’s Minuetto Allegretto. It certainly stirred an awakening amongst all you Womble fans and it was great get such a response.

Great Uncle Bulgaria illustrated by Ivor Wood

Great Uncle Bulgaria illustrated by Ivor Wood

One person in particular filled in some much needed gaps of knowledge from my part, namely one Frederick Harrison who after commenting on the post followed it up with some great scans of Wombles imagery along with a detailed back story of the illustrations. 

Ivor Wood’s hand drawn picture of Great Uncle Bulgaria (GUB) dates from late 1973 and originally appeared in The Wombles’ Song Book as one of the illustrations for the music for Great Uncle Bulgaria’s March. A variation of this illustration appeared on the back cover of the folio with GUB holding an LP record (minus sleeve) in his left paw. It also appears on the inside of the sheet music for The Wombling Song.

Wombles Warning illustrated by Ivor Wood

Wombles Warning illustrated by Ivor Wood

Then after speaking to the man behind the music, Mike Batt, via twitter, he confirmed that he had commissioned Ivor to produce all the illustrations in the Womble songbooks and sheet music as Frederick goes onto explain.

The Wombles Song Book (first published 1973) is illustrated throughout with black and white photos of the Wombles (models), a colour photo on the front cover (again models), and Ivor’s sketches on the margins of the music and elsewhere. Ivor did them specifically for the songbook, at Mike’s request. These were later used on the individual sheet music and were repeated for the songs from the first album in the Giant Wombles Songbook which added the songs from the second and third albums. The latter folio used pictures of the Wombles pop group instead of the animation models. The songs from the second and third albums in that folio did not have any margin illustrations by Ivor though some of the sheet music used them for the cover illustrations.  

Tomsk, Madame Cholet and Orinoco from Remember You're A Womble music sheet illustrated by Ivor Wood

Tomsk, Madame Cholet and Orinoco from Remember You’re A Womble music sheet illustrated by Ivor Wood

Ivor’s unique and rough and ready sketches are on great form in these pieces. Whilst they are true to the models that he designed they retain a certain character all of their own. There have been many incarnations of The Wombles over the years from Margaret Gordon to Barry Leith and each illustrator had their own take. In many ways Ivor had the most fun and playful approach sticking more closely to his own style than to focus on how they looked before or as models. You can see this in the exaggerated and often comical poses in his drawings.

Frederick has proved that this truly is a blog for everyone so please don’t feel shy in coming forward with any memories or information you may have about Ivor Wood and all his many creations. We’ve been a bit Womble heavy these past months so we’ll be going to pastures new next week so keep your eyes peeled.