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Image (ca. 1994) from ACE Biographical Portraits
John Dixon John Dixon i(A129808 works by)
Born: Established: 1929 Newcastle, Newcastle - Hunter Valley area, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Male
(Cover Artist) assertion
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BiographyHistory

John Dixon attended Cooks Hill Intermediate High School and began work as a trainee window dresser with a local soft furnishings store. Upon learning that the store's resident advertising artist was leaving the company, Dixon prepared samples of his own artwork and successfully applied for the position.

Moving to Sydney in 1945, Dixon worked as a commercial artist for several department stores and advertising agencies. At the suggestion of an agency colleague, Dixon wrote and illustrated an 18-page comic book story, titled 'The Sky Pirates', which he completed in his spare time over a six-month period.

Late in 1947 a chance visit to the office of H. John Edwards resulted in Dixon being offered a full-time contract to produce comic books exclusively for that company. Dixon's first publication was Tim Valour Comic (H. J. Edwards Pty. Ltd., 1948 - ca.1957). The eponymous hero, Captain Tim Valour, was an ex-RAAF pilot who was recruited as 'Special Security Agent' by National Security HQ. In the early 1950s Dixon relocated the story's setting to the Korean War, where he recast Tim Valour as Commander of the Flying Tigerhawks Squadron, accompanied by fellow National Security Agent, 'Happy' Macdhui. The popularity of Tim Valour Comic, sustained for nearly 100 issues over three separate series, was attributable to Dixon's striking cover designs, fast-paced stories and meticulous depiction of aircraft. The comic reflected Dixon's real-life passion for flying, particularly after Dixon obtained his pilot's licence with the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales in 1949.

Dixon's next project, The Crimson Comet (H. J. Edwards, 1949 - ca.1957) exploited the surging popularity of American superheroes, spearheaded by such titles as Superman All Color Comic (1947-1959), now published under licence in Australia by K. G. Murray. Sporting a massive pair of eagle's wings on his back, armed with a deadly 'blast pistol' and clad in a vivid red costume, the Crimson Comet made an indelible impression on young readers. Dixon wrote and illustrated the first seven issues, but the demands of producing Tim Valour Comic forced him to assign the comic to another artist, Albert De Vine. Dixon eventually returned to the series, alternating between episodes set during the Korean War and science-fiction adventures.

Throughout the early 1950s, Dixon also produced cover artwork for H. J. Edwards' range of American reprint comics (e.g. Wambi - Jungle Boy, Rangers Comics), along with interior illustrations for pulp novelettes (e.g. Owlhoots Nest), and cover paintings for crime novels (See: A Girl Must Die).

Dixon's last major assignment for H. J. Edwards was contributing to The Adventures of Biggles (Action Comics, ca.1953-1957), a comic book version of the juvenile fiction hero, 'Biggles' (James Bigglesworth), created by the British author, W. E. Johns (q.v.). The comic book adaptation capitalised on the popularity of The Air Adventures of Biggles, a radio serial produced by Amalgamated Wireless (Australia), which was broadcast on commercial stations throughout 1949-1954. Dixon succeeded Albert De Vine as the principal artist on the series, before being replaced in turn by Jeff Wilkinson. The Adventures of Biggles was subsequently reprinted in the UK by Strato Publications in the mid-1950s.

The closure of H. J. Edwards in 1957 forced Dixon to seek work from new publisher clients. Frew Publications hired Dixon to revamp their defunct superhero character, Catman. The company originally acquired the rights to Catman, an American character that first appeared in Crash Comics No.4 (1940), and commissioned an Australian artist, Lloyd Piper (q.v.), to produce a local version for Super Yank Comics (Frew Publications, ca.1951-1952). Dixon gave the series a complete visual overhaul, updating Catman's costume (together with that worn by his uniformed sidekick, Kit) and equipping him with a supersonic Cat Jet, deliberately emulating the rival superhero title, Batman Comics (K. G. Murray, 1950-1959). Dixon wrote and drew 12 editions of The Adventures of Catman (Frew Publications, ca.1958-1959), which were reissued by Page Publications throughout 1965-1968.

Young's Merchandising approached Dixon to create a new science-fiction adventure series, Captain Strato (ca.1958). Inspired by the dawning 'space race' (inaugurated by the launch of the 'Sputnik' satellite in 1957), Captain Strato monitored global 'trouble spots' from the S-1 space station, from whence he blasted towards Earth aboard his nuclear-powered Sky Phantom rocket.

Horwitz Publications commissioned Dixon to paint numerous covers for their war paperback novels throughout 1958-1960 (See: Death-Knife Ridge). Dixon also created what would turn out to be the last Australian-drawn comic book released by Horwitz Publications, The Phantom Commando (1959 - ca.1965). The central character, Bruce Harcourte, was a fighter pilot who flew into action disguised as the Phantom Commando, a mysterious, masked aviator who fought Japanese forces from his secret island base in the Indian Ocean. Dixon produced the first three issues, before relinquishing The Phantom Commando to Maurice Bramley (q.v.).

Dixon turned his back on comic book and paperback cover assignments to concentrate on his new project, Air Hawk and the Flying Doctor, an adventure comic strip set in outback Australia. The series centred on Jim Hawk, an RAAF veteran turned charter pilot who, together with Royal Flying Doctor Service physician Dr. Hal Matthews and Nursing Sister Janet Grant, flew hazardous missions across the length and breadth of northern Australia. The strip debuted in the Sun-Herald in June 1959 and was gradually syndicated to other weekend newspapers throughout Australia. The Herald and Weekly Times newspaper group agreed to syndicate a daily version of Air Hawk in 1963, which Dixon produced until his retirement in 1985 (both Hart Amos and Keith Chatto, qq.v., worked as 'ghost artists' on the Sunday newspaper version of Air Hawk during the 1970s.). Various comic book compilations of Air Hawk were published in Australia from the early 1960s onwards, including Air Hawk and the Flying Doctors (Horwitz Publications, ca. 1962), The Hawk and the Flying Doctors (Page Publications, ca. 1966) and John Dixon's Air Hawk Magazine (Comicoz, 1988-1989). The Air Hawk comic strip was cited as an inspiration for Australian artist Tracey Moffat's (q.v.) photographic work, 'Adventure Series 2' (2004).

Dixon relocated to the United States in 1986, where he took up the role of Art Director at Defense & Foreign Affairs, until the magazine's closure in 1990. Throughout 1992-1995, Dixon was employed as an inker on numerous superhero titles published by Valiant/Acclaim Comics (e.g. Bloodshot, The H.A.R.D. Corps). Dixon subsequently drew 16 episodes of the Agent X9 comic book, published by Egmont (Sweden) for the European market, during 1997-2003.

Most Referenced Works

Last amended 28 Jun 2018 14:03:50
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