Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Hubbard was the son of London-born Edmond John Hubbard, a bookbinder who worked on book edge gilding, and Irish-born Mary Ellen Hubbard. Their two children, Edmond John Hubbard and Ernest Alfred Hubbard were both schooled in Manor Park, Essex
His earliest known work, which appeared in the Amalgamated Press's The Thriller, was signed Ernest Hubbard. Hubbard was already an accomplished artist even in these early illustrations. He was particularly noted for his lissome women in figure-hugging silk dresses, which was to stand him in good stead in the future. His work appeared in Detective Weekly, Modern Wonder and The Passing Show in the 1930s but, like many artists, he turned to comic strips in the post-World War II years, the storypaper having suffered so greatly from the paper shortages and rationing.
During the war, Percy Clarke had stepped into the shoes of Edward Holmes as editor of Knock-out Comic. With scriptwriters in short supply, Clarke instigated a series of adaptations of classics, starting with Gulliver's Travels and taking in Peter the Whaler, Mr. Midshipman Easy and The Children of the New Forest.
By this time, Hubbard was also involved in the strip that was to make his name. The war years had made Jane of the Daily Mirror a household name. The saucy Jane had won over the hearts of soldiers and her knockabout adventures continued to offer plenty of cheerful, cheeky fun in the drab post-war years. However, the artwork of the strip's creator, Norman Pett, was starting to look a little old-fashioned and Hubbard was bought in as an assistant, at first to draw backgrounds but, before long, to draw Jane herself. After two years, Pett was let-go and Hubbard took over the strip completely.
He was to draw Jane for eleven years, at the same time continuing his association with Knockout until pressure on the daily strip meant no time for further assignments.
However, eventually Jane came to an end and Hubbard returned to drawing for comics, finding work mostly on girls' titles such as Valentine, Schoolgirl Picture Library, Poppet and June in the early- to mid-1960s. He would also pop up in boys' titles, drawing adaptations of King Solomon's Mines and Alan Quartermain for Ranger, and Coral Island for Look and Learn.
One of his finest later strips was 'Jane Bond, Secret Agent' for Tina and Princess Tina and he produced a range of beautifully painted fairy tales and adaptations of Francis Hodgson Burnett in the early 1970s for Pixie. He was still drawing in his late sixties but eventually had to lay down his pen. He died on 25 June 1976.
Examples of Mike Hubbard's artwork can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.