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David Langdon, 1914-2011
posted January 1, 2012


The English cartoonist David Langdon, who enjoyed his greatest popularity during World War II and was a Punch contributor during that publication's period of greatest circulation, died on November 18. He was 97 years old.

Langdon was born in London and studied to become an accredited architect. He was educated at Davenant grammar school. Langdon began to draw cartoons as a side business in 1931 and continued on through the 1930s while working in the Architects Department of London County Council. He was invited to contribute to Punch by then-editor EV Knox in 1937. By 1941 he was that publication's most prolific contributor and released his first book, Home Front Lines. His work was written in a straight-forward fashion that appealed to readers sometimes baffled by the obtuse quality of some cartoonists' efforts, and was crisply drawn.

The cartoonist had joined the London Rescue Service in 1939 and then the Royal Air Force in 1941. His Billy Brown of London Town advertisements were a well-known public campaign during the war years. They featured a genteel city resident admonishing his fellow citizens as to particulars of wartime civilian life adjustments. Langdon was also the editor of the RAF Journal from 1945 to 1946. In an obituary prepared by the late Denis Gifford for The Guardian, the cultural historian called Langdon the greatest recorder of English life as lived from 1939 to 1945.

After the war concluded, Langdon returned to the sideline rather than architecture. He became a widely-published freelance cartoonist. His clients included Punch again, the publication Lilliput, and also the newspaper that would eventually become The Daily Mirror (an association that would last until 1990). Starting in 1952 he began to contribute to The New Yorker, and in 1953 he created the strip "Professor Puff And His Dog Wuff" for Eagle, with a collection arriving in 1957. His work remained popular in advertisements, particularly right after the war. Like many cartoonists of his era, Langdon began a long affiliation with his football club, in his case the Wycombe Wanderers, contributing art to team publications and efforts such as their yearly Christmas card.

He received an Order Of The British Empire honor in 1988, primarily for his work during World War II.

Langdon is survived by his wife of 56 years, their three children and eight grandchildren.