Duck Soup - cartoon magazine

Judy Walker cartoons from Duck Soup - click on image to enlarge

Duck Soup Masthead

Duck Soup cartoon magazine

Duck Soup was published by a group of cartoonists who felt that editors regarded their work as being there just to fill in the spaces between the words. The founders believed that cartoons should respected as an art form, as in other counties in Europe, and wanted a publication that would give them that respect.

It was first published from Covent Garden from the offices of cartoonists David Austin, Tom Johnston and Kipper Williams. Judith Walker, who had a studio downstairs, was involved in the first issue then went to do postgraduate studies in New Mexico, (following which she was on the fringes of the publication).

It cost 30 pence and was distributed in London only by Thames New Services & Forbidden Planet (Titan). In its first incarnation it ran for five issues from September 1979 until January 1980,

Following a hiatus, Duck Soup was revived in 1985, with a more professional approach. David Austin and Tom Johnston were joint editors along with Judith Walker as managing editor (Judith had returned from the States and began to contribute cartoons under the name Judy Walker). Judith had also gained experience in working on the business side of publishing for Fred and Judy Vermorel and Hot Press music paper. The new version of the magazine was published from Judith’s studio in Borough Market.

Financial backing was provided by Barclays Bank, Hampstead. The manager at the time, Brian Kemp, had been a supporter of cultural projects and had made money available for the film The Wall. Advertising came from friends and supporters, who had the cartoonist of their choice, draw the relevant ad.

The launch party was at the Hippodrome nightclub, which did not really have the right atmosphere for Duck Soup, but there were wonderful editorial parties at the Market Porter pub in Park Street, Borough Market (then a declining wholesale fruit and vegetable market). These were attended by all the best UK cartoonists of the time, some of whom had already made their names and others who were yet to become famous.

Lots of hopefuls sent in cartoons but we did not really have time to look at all of them so they tended to be rejected. One of these was the young Martin Rosen.

The magazine was designed by Simon Bishop who worked for Time Out, doing much of the work in his office in the evening (sometimes all night).

Great fun was had with the letters page when famous writers were invited by Judith to send in articles which would be the right shape to fit between the cartoons. Some got the joke and sent in material, but others did not see the funny side!

It was distributed nationally to retail chains by Argus, through specialist outfits by Forbidden Planet/Titan, and by an eccentric one man band who carried bundles of comics around and looked like a tramp. The Argus MD at time, Ted Hurworth, was a big cartoon fan took a personal interest and helped to develop the distribution, as a result of which sales were good. WH Smiths took it on trial for six issues and had to see every one before it went to the printers, then pulled the plug as they were unhappy with the content.

This deprived the magazine of its major outlet, so Judith Walker had to advise other directors that that they would start losing all their money if continued. A decision was made to fold the magazine while there was enough money to pay off the bank loan. At the same time the careers of the cartoonists involved were taking off, and they decided to devote their time to working for other publications.


John Glashan, Larry, Banx, Nick Baker, Clive Collins, Ed McHenry, Caroline Holden, Tom Johnston, David Austin, Judy Walker, Michael Heath, Steve Bell, Nick Newman, Kipper Williams, Larry, Nick Newman, Martin Honeysett, Peter Dredge, Duncan, Holt, Dave Chisholm, Birkett, Francis Boyle, McLaughlan, Tony Husband, Brian Reading, Ken Pyne, Bill Scott, Jay, D Ledwich, Frank Dickens, Fflokes, Cluff, Wendy Hoile,Peyton,

Writers included Dave Dalton on comedy, Stan Hey on sport, Jim Evans on music and Richard Smith

It ran for six issues between April 1985 and Sept 1985, cover price £1