HUTCHINGS Priscilla May
She was born circa 1919 and raised in Port Carling, Ontario.
According to Ed Furness, she and June Banfield became so good they took over the finished illustration work for Freelance. She also took over finished art work for “The Crusaders”. Of her drawing ability Ed Furness said, “She could draw girls … so if girls were required she got the chore, good girls or bad girls whatever. She frequently made the men in the story look like the girls – except for the pug uglies like ‘Big John’, of course, and her ‘Robin Hood’ was a little bit effeminate.” If one looks at the cover of Spy Smasher 1, June 1942 below we can see what Ed Furness meant.
She and Betty (Grace Elizabeth) Mercer became best friends as they worked at Anglo-American during the 1940’s. Since one was not to talk while working, they conversed through their art. For example, Patricia had a hooked nose. Betty would draw a picture of a giant hooked nose resting on the edge of a table, and pass it to Patricia. Patricia in turn would sketch a giant gapped toothed smile and pass it back to Betty. They remained in contact after they left Anglo-American and Betty moved to the U.S. Priscilla would visit Betty in the U.S. and Mary J. Neill, Betty Mercer’s daughter, remembered that “She was hugely funny and we [the children] never wanted her to leave.” but in the 1970’s Betty and her family lost touch with Priscilla.
Both Priscilla and Betty hated the fan mail, that came to Anglo-American because as Betty’s daughter said it was predominantly nitpicking criticism, largely from readers of “Captain Marvel”.
After Priscilla left Anglo-American, she worked as a freelancer, designing furniture and greeting cards. She also illustrated books for Ryerson Press and Macmillan of Canada. The child’s book Under the North Star, shown below was published in 1946. The date suggests that Priscilla had begun illustrating books even as she was leaving Anglo-American. Another book she illustrated was a school book called The New Road Of Song Intermediate 1, compiled by G. Roy Fenwick, Dan Hollis & Robert Foresman published by W.J. Gage Ltd. in 1958. See an illustration from it below.
While freelancing, Priscilla earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and afterwards taught high school, in Stratford, Ontario. She never married. In the 1970’s and 1980’s children in Canadian elementary schools used a series of language readers all tied together by a character, called “Mr Mugs”. He was an old English sheepdog who lived with two children Pat and Cathy. They were written by Martha Kambeitz and Carol Roth. They were also illustrated but the illustrator is not identified, a common practice it seems at that time. However, I met a resident of Stratford who was a high school student of Priscilla’s and she stated that Priscilla was the illustrator.
Priscilla died in the 1990’s.
Email 1 May 2016, to Ivan Kocmarek from Billy Neill grandson of Betty Mercer quoting his mother.
Email 28 Sept. 2016, to Robert MacMillan, from Billy Neill grandson of Betty Mercer quoting his mother.
Email 13 April 2020. To Robert MacMillan from May J. Neill (daughter of Betty Mercer.
“Songs of the Sea: Capital Ship.” Writ., The Duke. Progress is fine, but it’s gone on for too long. 21 Jan. 2015. Accessed 26 April 2020. <progress-is-fine.blogspot.com>
Ed Furness by Robert MacMillan
Spy Smasher, 1, June 1942. Front cover.
The image from the title page this book was supplied by Mary J. Neill, the daughter of Betty Mercer. Under The North Star (1946) was written by Clare Routley & Grace Morgan
An illustration for “Songs of the Sea: A Capital Ship.” From The New Road Of Song Intermediate 1.,