June Mendoza interview from the Pikitia Press Blog

This blog post was published on the Pikitia Press Blog on Thursday January 23rd, 2014 written by Matt Emery.  As June Mendoza is a patron of the Tait Memorial Trust we wanted to share this fascinating article about a great Australian. We are very grateful to Matt Emery for sharing these illustrations and his interview with June on his blog.


Thursday, January 23, 2014
June Mendoza Interview

June Mendoza with three of her children, Ashley and Lee seated; Elliet standing in left foreground. A portrait of her four children is in the background

June Mendoza was born in Melbourne, Australia,1927, to an artistic family, pianist, composer Dot (née) Mendoza and musician John Morton. June focused on an art career from twelve years of age, taking life drawing at fourteen. By seventeen June was illustrating book jackets, magazine illustrations, town-planning exhibition artwork, record sleeves, some portraits and the adventure comic strip Devil Doone.

June Mendoza with paint palette in front of her portrait of Sammy Davis Junior.

Mendoza immigrated to England in the early 1950s and worked for Hulton Press producing illustrations and comics for Eagle’s companion title Girl. After five years June transitioned into full time portraiture with subjects including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Sammy Davis Junior, Sean Connery, Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II (twice), HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Sir William McMahon, Prince Edward, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Sir John Major, Sir John Gorton 1972 (official Parliamentary portrait acquired 1972 – the first and only official portrait of a Prime Minister by a woman artist).

Panel from Diana and Debbie are Dieticians featured in 1950’s Girl Annual by Hulton Press.

In mid 2013 June answered a few questions for Matt Emery via email.

Do you recall what your first professional illustration job was and how old you were at the time?

Hopeless with dates, But discounting portraits, which I was already doing by the time I was 12, I remember a big job on a Town Planning exhibition for some architects when I was about 17, which involved humourous, but relevant, illustrations accompanying text, on about ten large panels.

How did you get the job of illustrating the first episodes of Devil Doone?
Can’t remember, But I had this ability to repeat likenesses of the characters in different situations and with different expressions.

Do you recall any other cartoonists that were active during the time you drew comics in Australia?
No. Except the beloved Les Tanner, of course; but he was something else.

Devil Doone for K.G. Murray’s Man Junior Magazine.


mendoza1 Read Belle of the Ballet in Crazy Day on the Pikitia Tumblr

What brought you to England and what were the first comics you worked on there?
The world was on the other side, and we all wanted to be there. I took over from a splendid comic artist on the already running and popular ‘Belle of the Ballet” for Hulton Press. Alan Stranks, who was doing ‘PC 49’ for them recommended me— again, because of this likeness thing. Then I ended up doing all sorts of things for them.

Why did you use the pseudonym Chris Garvey for some of your work for Girl?
I think it was just to keep my portrait work separate from the commercial stuff, and I kept it ambiguous plus the surname of an amazing human being in my life, who died very young.

Did you read or have a familiarity with comics before you started drawing them in Australia?
As a kid I had my weekly, eagerly awaited comic to devour; can’t remember its’ name, but I do remember another I loved called Film Fun which featured mostly British actors,entertainers etc, amongst which was a regular strip featuring Lupino Lane. Amazingly, by pure chance, I ended up, in my actressing days, working with him in the West End and on tour, in his famous show ‘ Me and My Girl ‘ Lovely man. News of my first portrait to be accepted by the Royal Soc. of Portrait Painters was on tour with him in Cambridge: we all went to the pub after the show and celebrated.

Were there any particular differences or demands you encountered upon entering the English comics industry?
Only that I was now working in full colour, and needed to learn how to apply this to deal with the vagaries of the printed result.

Are there any particular standout memories from your time in comics?
Matt, too long winded. I did about five years of it inc. years of ‘ Belle of the Ballet’ ; serial on Joan of Arc [ fascinating ] ; ‘ Petruschka, ‘the ballet; a cooking series; and misc. illustrations, covers etc.
But portraiture was the prime, constant accompaniment throughout ——– from the age of 12.

The three Illustrations below are from a Girl Annual accompanying an article on the work of British film make up artist George Blackler. All signed under June’s Pseudonym Chris Garvey.
George Blackler applies make-up to Alec Guinness.
Yoko Tani made up as an Eskimo for ‘The Savage Innocents’


George Blackler provided ‘Moko’ for Maori actors in the film production of John Guthries novel, The Seekers.

Sources: Special thanks to Phil Rushton, Devil Doone scan courtesy Ausreprints, Devil Doone history at Comicsdownunder , Artist June Mendoza with [her] portrait of Sammy Davis Junior courtesy June Mendoza, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/167570547 , June Mendoza seated with her arms around two of her children, Ashley and Lee; Elliet is standing in left foreground. A portrait of all four children is in the background courtesy June Mendoza, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/167570548

Originally posted by Matt Emery at 9:53 PM, 23rd January 2014

Email: guzumo@gmail.com

Twitter: @pikitiapress

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Pikitia Press is a small press publishing operation run from my spare room in St Kilda, Melbourne. I founded Pikitia Press in 2012 to publish works by and about Australia and New Zealand cartoonists. The Pikitia Press blog is an ongoing effort to record contemporary cartooning/comics and cartooning history in New Zealand and Australia.

Matt Emery – Pikitia Press Publisher – Dec 2012

Founding Patrons of the Tait Memorial Trust

The founding Patrons of the Tait Memorial Trust were Viola, Lady Tait AM, Dame Joan Sutherland AC OM DBE, John McCallum AO CBE and Googie Withers AO CBE.

The Tait Memorial Trust was formed in 1992 by Isla Baring OAM, in memory of her father, Sir Frank Tait and his four brothers. The Tait brothers ran the biggest theatrical group in Australia; called J.C. Williamsons, often referred to as, “The Firm”.

British Pathe tribute to the death of Sir Frank Tait

Manager of the ABC, Sir Frank Tait, Marion Anderson, USA Consul, Town Hall concert, Melbourne, 1962  Part of Lady Viola Tait collection
Manager of the ABC, Sir Frank Tait, Marion Anderson, USA Consul, Town Hall concert, Melbourne, 1962
Part of Lady Viola Tait collection

They owned theatres in all states and theatres in New Zealand,, their base of operations was Her Majesty’s ( or His Majesty’s for a period ) in Melbourne,. They employed local artists and international artists such as Pavlova, Chaliapin, Melba, Danny Kaye, Gracie Fields, Laurence Olivier, Sybil Thorndike, Margot Fonteyn, Vivien Leigh, Percy Grainger and many more.


They maintained offices in London and New York to ensure that they could book the best talent to come to Australia, JC Williamson’s famously acquired the Australian performing rights from the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company for all of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

Dame Nellie Melba, Soprano
Dame Nellie Melba, Soprano

They put on most American musicals from Annie get your Gun to My Fair Lady. Sir Frank’s last enterprise, the crowning glory of his long career was the Sutherland-Williamson Opera Company in 1965. A company formed the previous year with no subsidy and brought opera to Australia, on tour. A true laurel in the crown of JC Williamson’s and Sir Frank Tait.

Googie Withers AO CBE & John Macallum AO CBE, Founding Patrons of the Tait Memorial Trust

Viola, Lady Tait, the widow of Sir Frank Tait, wrote, ‘A Family of Brothers’, a wonderful book and vivid account of the growth of the Tait brothers theatre business culminating in the golden days of JC Williamson’s Theatre Company and the Sutherland-Williamson Co. of 1965. Viola, Lady Tait’s zest for life was inspirational. She was a champion of new and emerging talent, adjudicating numerous scholarships and awards both in Australia and overseas. As an adjudicator for The Shell-Mobil Quest in 1950, Viola Tait was famously instrumental in launching Joan Sutherland’s career.

Lady McKell and Viola Tait at opening of the ballet, ca. 1950 1 photograph : b&w ; 20.7 x 15.2 cm. Part of Lady Viola Tait collection [picture]. 1850-1976.
Lady McKell and Viola Tait at opening of the ballet, ca. 1950 Part of Lady Viola Tait collection 1850-1976. National Library of Australia Archive

It became Sir Frank’s ambition to present Joan Sutherland to the Australian public after her international acclaim. The Sutherland Williamson Grand Opera Company opened in Melbourne in 1965 heralding her triumphant return to her homeland. It was a season never to be forgotten. Joan Sutherland sang some of the best performances of her career while on this tour. She performed in five of the eight operas along with the young Pavarotti.

In Richard Bonynge’s words:

“Sir Frank Tait has done the greatest service to Australian Theatre and to the arts of anyone we know.”

More information on the Trust history can be found on our website. www.taitmemorialtrust.org

Tait Memorial Trust website

©2013 Tait Memorial Trust • Registered charity 1042797

John Preston Amis (17 June 1922 – 1 August 2013)

Dear Friends

Darling John died peacefully last night at the Chelsea and Westminster – I was with him at the time.

His last two months have been a struggle – Scotland for a month, then in London for 5 weeks. The doctors and nurses gave him wonderful care and support.

I will miss him enormously, but shall remember all the wonderful times we shared together with so many of our dear friends, and so grateful for the music which brought us together. As Humphrey Burton says, “the very spirit of music…unforgettable and irreplaceable”.

John Preston Amis ( 17 June 1922 - 01 August 2013)
John Preston Amis ( 17 June 1922 – 01 August 2013)

Love, Isla
Isla Baring OAM
Tait Memorial Trust
4/80 Elm Park Gardens
London SW10 9PD
T 020 7351 0561
F 020 7349 0531
E islabaring@gmail.com
W www.taitmemorialtrust.org

John Amis – Critic, Broadcaster and Patron of the TMT

John Amis has lived a life surrounded by the greats of modern British music. At Dulwich College, South London he was close friends with the satirical/ witty composer, Donald Swann. In his professional life Britten, Tippett and Walton, to name a few, were his friends and contemporaries. He followed and nurtured their careers, wrote about their work, broadcast about them on BBC radio and on BBC television, the justly famous, ‘Music Now’ brought his wit and comprehensive knowledge into the nation’s living rooms.

John Amis. A portrait by June Mendoza
John Amis. A portrait by June Mendoza

John is now 91 and is very ill. Thankfully he is being visited by many of his old friends and colleagues, his reaction to them is lovely to witness. Isla and all of the members of the Tait Memorial Trust pray for a swift recovery and ask that you join us in asking for John’s health to be restored to him so he can continue the active life for which he is so famous.

This is a recent portrait of John Amis by the celebrated Australian artist, June Mendoza. This is the John that many of us have come to know and love. We so want him to return.


If you would like to send a personal message to John or wish to pay him a visit please use the contact form attached

A clip of John from the May 1971 BBC broadcast of ‘Music Now’. A special programme made about the premiere of the new Benjamin Britten opera made for Television and commissioned by the BBC, Owen Wingrave.

©2013 Tait Memorial Trust •
Registered charity 1042797