Percy Fearon ("Poy")
Percy Hutton Fearon was born in Shanghai, China, on 6 September 1874, the fourh son of Robert Inglis Fearon, an English merchant, and his Australian wife Mary (née Hutton).
In 1876 the family moved to Staten Island, New York, where Percy attended the New Jersey Academy and subsequently studied at the Art Students League of New York and the Chase School of Art. The New Yorkers' pronunciation of his name as 'Poicy' was the source of his later psuedonym of 'Poy'.
His father died in 1897 and Mary brought the family to England, settling in Weymouth, Dorset. Percy started sunmitting cartoons to Judy magazine and soon joined the staff. He became a political cartoonist for the Manchester Evening Chronicle in 1905, lodging in Withington, and in 1907 transferred to its sister papers The Daily Despatch and Sunday Chronicle. Winston Churchill was at this time the Liberal MP for NW Manchester. He was also a junior minister and Percy's caricatures of the politician may have contributed to his losing his seat in the 1908 by-election.
In 1913 Fearon moved to London to work on the London Evening News, with occasional cartoons appearing in its sister paper the Daily Mail. He brought an American zest to his cartoons and created a cast of emblematic characters – John Citizen, complacent bureaucrats Dilly and Dally, Cuthbert the rabbit representing those who avoided contributing to the war effort during the First World War (Feron himself joined the City of London VTC "Home Guards") and Dux and Drakes, a pair of smug ducks representing squandered resources.
Fearon moved into the Artillery Mansions Hotel, 75 Victoria Street, London SW1 where he resided until his retirement.
In 1919 Kine Komedy Kartoons approached Fearon with the proposal to make a series of animated films based on his published cartoons. Three were made but it seems no prints have survived and I have not found any published review of them. The latter point suggests there was nothing of note about them, so I presume they merely consisted of the 'lightning artist' trick of the rapid drawing-on of a static cartoon, perhaps four or five to make up a 500 ft reel. Common practice in the making of such films was that the complete cartoon was drawn in blue pencil, to which the photographic film was so sensitive that it was invisible against the white of the paper. Any competent artist could then progressively ink in the picture, so we can only assume that was indeed Poy's hand at work. If there had been any additional animation it would almost certainly drawn comment in the press, so it seems no animator added movement to these films – in retrospect a missed opportunity given the highly animatable nature of Fearon's style. Kine Komedy Kartoons closed down after the first three films were completed, but in 1921 Pathé Pictorial used the idea for a competition. Ten films were made of Poy drawing a cartoon, each representing the title of a song or film. Audiences were encouraged to guess the titles, submitting all ten to Pathé's Wardour Street offices to win £100 in cash – "in the event of a tie the £100 will be divided." Fearon appeared in live-action at the start of each film. A pleasing element of the subsequent stop-frame drawing of the cartoon is that, to speed up the completion, while the artist's hand appears to be drawing the main elements of the picture other lines are drawing on by themselves.
1920 saw Poy's popularity at its height. At the beginning of the year the New Agency Film Company released a series of five Stop Press Comedies, live-action films based on the Poy cartoons and starring Frank Stanmore as John Citizen, and in August Hutchinson & Co published 100 Poy Cartoons reprinted from the London Eveng News and Daily Mail.
Fearon was the political cartoonist for the London Eveng News until 1935 and continued providing cartoons for the Daily Mail until 1938, when he retired.
Percy Fearon moved to Barnes, SW London. He died on 5 November 1948, at Putney Hospital.
|Poy Cartoon No.1||(Kine Komedy Kartoons, 1919) Cartoonist|
|Poy Cartoon No.2||(Kine Komedy Kartoons, 1919) Cartoonist|
|Poy Cartoon No.3||(Kine Komedy Kartoons, 1919) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 1||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 2||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 3||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 4||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 5||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 6||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 7||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 8||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 9||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
|Pathé Pictorial Cartoon Competition 10||(Pathé Pictorial segment, 1921) Cartoonist|
Links to Other Sites
BRITISH CARTOON ARCHIVE - Percy Fearon [Poy]: biography from the University of Kent's website.
CHRIS BEETLES GALLERY - Poy (Percy Hutton Fearon): biography and examples of work.
INTERNET ARCHIVE - 100 Poy cartoons: scan of the book published by Hutchinson, 1920.
British Pathé - Pathe Pictorial Cartoon Competition: Search results for Poy's cartoon competion films.
Last updated 2020