JOHN HOARE'S FAMILY HISTORY
According to the records, Oliver Edgar VEAL, born 1860, was the husband of my 2nd great-aunt Emily CHEESMAN, also born 1860, the younger sister of my great-great grandfather Cornelius John Childrens CHEESMAN. This means that Oliver is not my blood relative, but it is worth recording his place in history as an pioneering artist in early British comics. Although my Aunt Emily had grown up in Brighton they were married in Willesden on the outskirts of London. In the 1901 census they were living back in Brighton and Oliver was recorded as 'artist sculpt.'.The sources I have found are of the opinion that Oliver and his family later moved a few miles to Steyning, West Sussex by 1911, but my research has him still in Brighton (Hove, actually) in 1911 and still there at the time of his death in 1917.
The origins of comics as we know them are hard to pin down. There are many entries referring to illustrated text from the 1700's on, but the first British comic as we know it that I have found is 'Illustrated Chips' (below). The first edition published 26 July 1890 has a strip by Oliver Veal. I can infer this is on the front page by comparing scans from the two different sources quoted below, one of which is the masthead with the first part of the story and the other is the whole story, but without the masthead. It is a moral tale rather than comedy, and very simply drawn. You would need deep pockets to afford the original.
By 1902 the stories are looking remarkably like those in 'Beano' and 'Dandy' which were the high point of my week as a child in the early 1950's
All the internet references I have found for Oliver Veal relate to his work as an artist contributing to the earliest British comics, but I have also found two undated postcards which reflect some skill in conventional sketch work, albeit with a comic intent.
©John Hoare 2021
All internet sources seen September 2020
Oliver Veal in the Lambiek Comiclopedia
British Comics at the Fin de Siècle
1200+ comic characters in print form