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.
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.
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.
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.