- The Artists:
- The Scientist - Professor Stuart Butler
- The Journalist - Bob Raymond
Andrea Bresciani was the first of two artists to illustrate for Frontiers of Science and present a visual interpretation of the scientific text written by Professor Stuart Butler and Bob Raymond.
Andrea was born January 29, 1923 in Tolmino, in the Italian province of Goriza. His family was Slovenian in origin but the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire saw the Slovenian territory of Tolmin ceded to Italy and renamed Tolmino.
Andrea never attended a drawing class and was entirely self-taught. His talent was obvious to the architect who employed him to design furniture early in his career. Andrea's chance reading of a comic someone left on a train, led him to wonder whether comics might be a profitable way for him to earn some extra money. After practicing the comic art style each night after work for three months, he presented his drawings to a publisher and was immediately offered employment as a comic illustrator.
In the 1920s and 30s the Italian comic scene was flourishing and Andrea developed his comic art credentials working on Italian comic strips such as Saette, Poldo and Geky Dor. He didn't have a romantic illusion as to the true motivation for drawing however, "It was a job like any other. I worked for a living."
During the post war years, Andrea decided to leave Europe and emigrate. He moved to Sydney in 1951 and obtained work as a comic strip artist with Atlas Publications; Sergeant Pat of the Radio Patrol and Smoky Dawson were some of the Australian comic titles he is known to have worked on.
In 1961 Andrea was given the opportunity to illustrate a brand new comic, Frontiers of Science. For the next twelve years, he produced artwork for five strips each week.
As Frontiers of Science was science fact and not science fiction, it was essential that Andrea produce realistic illustrations. Any single month may have included illustrations of scientific instruments, measurement devices, diagrams explaining the theory of physics, space machinery, and giants of history such as Albert Einstein.
After twelve years with Frontiers of Science, Andrea travelled overseas, living for various periods in Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Philippines. He applied his artistic talents to fashion magazines, political cartoons and advertising, and was employed by Marvel publications. He was also artistic director for the Hanna-Barbera company for animated series such as Defenders of the Earth and Robin Hood. Among his movie credits were The New Scooby Do Movies (1972), Hiawatha (1988), and Otherzone (1998).
Andrea eventually returned to Australia and lived in Melbourne near members of his family until his death in February 2006.
David Emerson was one of two artists who illustrated Frontiers of Science, taking over from Andrea Bresciani in 1970. He illustrated Frontiers of Science for the next 10 years, meeting its demanding weekly deadline of five strips while making each one as scientifically accurate as possible.
Today David is as prolific as ever, working as illustrator, poet, cartoonist; and landscape and portrait painter from his rural property in Branxton, in the Hunter Valley.
David was born in Paddington in 1945 and grew up in Bondi. Although he never had an art lesson, he managed to get a job with Consolidated Press when he was 16, illustrating its newspapers and magazines. He left after three years to workas a freelance artist and has been doing so ever since.
He moved to the Blue Mountains and became the Blue Mountains Town Artist - the first Town Artist in Australia. Much of his work can still be seen in the artworks which enhance the streetscapes and parks of the area.
He was the first Australian to illustrate a cover of Mad magazine in 1981, with the cover showing a scene from the popular 1970s TV series, Prisoner.
He and wife Eileen have between them seven children and both are deeply involved in community projects, local committees and social issues. One of David's illustrations is called 'Rats got into the Tunnel', and shows the London Underground bombing, while another , 'The Detention Centre Dinner' shows former Federal Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone towering over her Afghani tablemates.
Recently, David was commissioned to paint a mural for Singleton Council and to design illustrated plates for local winery. David teaches weekly art classes and works in the local Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
Based on an interview with Mary Scully. Nd.
Stuart Butler was born in 1926 in South Australia. It was at Birdwood High School that he began to display great skills in mathematics, science, English and music. Stuart won a scholarship to the University of Adelaide, and his undergraduate record was so brilliant that he was awarded an Australian National University Scholarship to work in theoretical physics at the University of Birmingham.
He went on to become an award winning and world-renowned theoretical physicist. In 1954 he was appointed a Reader in Physics at the University of Sydney. Here Stuart joined a group of young theoretical physicists attracted to Sydney by the then recently appointed Head of the School of Physics, Professor Harry Messel. At the age of 32, Professor Messel was busy attracting the most brilliant minds to Sydney.
Stuart was always concerned with the need for science to explain itself better to the public and was respected by the media for his activities in this area. In the 1950s before Frontiers of Science was launched, Stuart was writing a regular science feature for the Daily Telegraph, in the days when science journalism was virtually unheard of. "When Sputnik went into orbit in 1957, Stuart Butler was hustled into the TCN 9 television studio to explain about orbits, weightlessness and similar mysteries", Bob Raymond reported.
Bob Raymond and Stuart became great friends through lively Sunday luncheons at the Butler's Mosman home where many of the day's science luminaries gathered. "Few came close to matching the unlikely - for a scientist - delight in living and breadth of interests of Stuart Butler." Bob Raymond says in his biography.
In an interview with Hazel De Berg, Stuart mentioned he agreed with research from the American Army that, "Many people will not read a block of 1,000 words but nevertheless... something of importance to be communicated to a large number of servicemen is best done in illustrated form." With this research in mind, Stuart decided to try the comic strip method to communicate scientific ideas to the general public.
It was Stuart who did much of the work finding ideas for each Frontiers strip, advising on the science and answering the odd complaint questioning the accuracy of the strips.
Stuart pursued his interest in the interpretation of science, organising a conference with the Academy of Science and the ABC on science communication to the general public. A dinner was subsequently held for Fellows of the Royal Academy and media leaders to discuss science communication and the media. In 1977, he wrote a book, Uranium on Trial (co-authored by Robert Raymond and C.N. Watson-Munro) to elucidate the complex problems of the use of uranium.
Stuart also wrote a whole series of Summer Science School books (now known as the Professor Harry Messel International Science School) edited with Messel and ranging through such diverse topics as nuclear physics, space research, astronomy, biology, brain mechanisms, solar energy and geology.
Professor Stuart Butler, who died in 1982, played a vital role in communicating to the public the aspirations, the successes, the fears and the failures of science.
Watson-Munro, Charles N. Stuart Thomas Butler 1926-1982. Download PDF
Butler, S. T. and De Berg, Hazel. Stuart Thomas Butler interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording] 1972. NLA catalogue entry
Born in 1922 in Beaudesert, Queensland, Robert (Bob) Raymond was one of five children. Early on he developed an interest and curiosity in the natural world, following his father's interests in bee-keeping and collecting bird eggs and geological specimens. Bob's attraction to the natural world was strengthened when as a young man he absorbed books by such scientific popularisers as Sir Arthur Eddington, Sir James Jeans, Julian Huxley, J.G. Crowther and J.B.S. Haldane.
After his father's death in 1934 his mother took him to England, where he finished his schooling. Bob's first job in Fleet Street was as a copy boy with the Daily Sketch. He left there and worked with Eric Baume as cable sub-editor for the Sydney Truth newspaper and later, during the war, with the ABC news bureau in Fleet Street. In 1944, as a 22-year old war correspondent for the Sydney Daily Mirror, he took part in the D-Day invasion, reporting from the bridge of a converted ferry carrying Canadian infantrymen. After the war, he wrote a regular column - a critique of the press called 'So They Say' for the New Statesman and the Nation.
Following his return to Australia in 1957, Bob joined the ABC. In 1961, together with Michael Charlton, Bob started the Four Corners programme for ABC TV where he stayed until late 1963. He supposedly left in frustration at Four Corners' then frugal production resources: just one cameraman, one sound engineer and two editors. This was also the first year of publication of Frontiers of Science.
Bob Raymond first met Professor Stuart Butler, with whom he was to establish Frontiers of Science, when Stuart was working in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. Frontiers apparently began as a conversation over lunch about how science could be popularised without being trivialised. They eventually hit on a 'true science' version of the popular comic strip format. Frontiers of Science appeared next to the likes of The Potts. Li'l Abner and Mickey Mouse: for a cartoon, the content of Frontiers was mind-blowing.
For the next 19 years Bob faithfully wrote a new set of strips each week - often in the remote locations where his work as a documentary maker took him. In his memoirs he recalls how he often tapped away on his portable typewriter on the bonnet of a LandCruiser out in the field, or drew sketches and diagrams on the overnight flight to Tokyo or London.
Commencing in late 1979 Bob was also involved in televising the Summer Science Schools held at the University of Sydney on the ATN 7 Network. During this time he met scientists Fred Hoyle, Werner von Braun, and Julius Sumner-Miller.
In late 1963, after leaving the ABC, Bob set up the Special Projects division for TCN Channel 9 establishing the first documentary unit in Australian commercial television. From 1963 to 1968 he wrote, produced and presented over 70 one-hour documentaries, covering subjects as diverse as drought, Indonesia and the Pill.
By 1969 Bob had left Channel 9 and started his own film company, Opus Films. His first series as an independent producer/director was the 13 part Shell's Australia which went to air on Channel 7 beginning in the early '70s. Other series followed such as Pelican's Progress, Out of the Fiery Furnace and Man on the Rim. Bob accompanied each of these series with a book, or as in the case of Shell's Australia, the encyclopedia of Australia's Wildlife Heritage with Vincent Serventy.
In the mid '70s Bob's controversial documentary on Fraser Island, The Last Wilderness, (part of the Shell's Australia series) is said to have helped the Australian government decide to end sandmining on the island, which is now a declared World Heritage site.
Bob won at least half a dozen TV Logies. He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1998 for his contribution to the media and to the television industry, particularly as a director and producer of television documentaries and public affairs programmes. He was appointed to the Board of the ABC in 1983 and in 2003, received a Doctorate of Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Sydney. Bob died in September 2003.