British Cartoon Archive


Sidney William Martin - Bill Martin - was born in Swanbourne, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia, on 28 December 1919, the son of George Martin, a wheat farmer. Educated at Perth Boy's School, Martin left in 1934, aged fourteen, to work as a packer in a Perth factory. When the owner caught him sketching on a packing case he was sufficiently impressed to get him a job in an art studio, and even secretly paid his fees. His first caricatures and cartoons appeared in the Perth Sunday Times.

In 1941 Martin joined the Royal Australian Air Force, as an air gunner and later wireless operator. He also ran an air station in northwest Australia, and drew illustrations and wrote articles for Wings. Demobilised in 1946, Martin began working in commercial advertising in Perth and Melbourne.

Within a few years Martin was the highest-paid advertising artist in Australia, but in 1953, on a visit to Britain, he was offered a job as cartoonist and illustrator by John Junor, editor of the Sunday Express, and decided to take it. He then spent thirty years at the Sunday Express, drawing "Sunday Martin", and eventually becoming both the art director of the paper and a member of the board. In later years he also drew cartoons for Sporting Life under the pseudonym "Williams". He retired from the Sunday Express in 1984.

Martin used Parker pens with indian ink and sometimes also Rotring pens. In addition he painted in oils and watercolour. His trademark was a circle above the 'i' in 'Martin' and he sometimes also included a picture of himself in his drawings, smoking a pipe. Bill Martin died at his home in Westcott, Surrey, on 4 June 1993.


  • "Bill Martin", The Times, 10 June 1993.
  • Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.152.
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