Studying art under Oswald Brock and, later, at East Sydney Technical College, Wedd worked as a commercial artist for a furniture manufacturer, before enlisting in the Australian Army with the onset of World War II. Wedd subsequently transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force, where he attained the rank of Leading Aircraftman (34 Squadron). Discharged from active duty in 1946, Wedd wrote and drew a French Foreign Legion comic-book serial, "Sword and Sabre", which he successfully sold to Syd Nicholls' Middy Malone Magazine. At Nicholls' urging, Wedd developed an Australian-themed series, "Captain Justice" (appearing in Fatty Finn's Comic), which was set in colonial-era Sydney, for which Wedd undertook considerable historical research, thus sparking his lifelong interest in Australian history and historical artefacts.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Wedd became a prolific and sought-after comic-book illustrator and commercial artist. In addition to developing new series of Captain Justice comic-books for New Century Press and Calvert Publishing, Wedd wrote and drew The Scorpion, starring a criminal anti-hero, which arguably ranks amongst his best work and remains one of the best-drawn Australian comics of that era. Recording sales in excess of 100,000 copies, The Scorpion was banned from sale in Queensland by that state's Literature Board of Review in 1955, which prompted the comic's distributor, Gordon & Gotch, to cease distributing the title throughout the rest of Australia. Wedd also worked extensively as a cover artist on numerous 'pulp fiction' novelettes issued by such firms as Malian Press, Action Comics Pty Ltd and Whitman Press throughout the 1950s.
With an economic downturn afflicting Australia's comic-book industry in the late 1950s, Wedd turned to educational comics projects, including the 'Stamp Oddity' column forStamp News, as well as contributing comic-strips to The Australian Children's Newspaper, before being appointed in 1958 as editor of The Australian Chuckler's Weekly, a children's magazine based on the "Charlie Chuckles" supplement from Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper. In 1964, Wedd was commissioned to produce a new weekly comic-strip version of "Captain Justice" for Woman's Day magazine, which ran until mid-1965. At this time, Wedd embarked on a new career in cartoon animation, working as a production designer on various series for Artransa Park Studios, including Rocket Robin Hood (1966), and later as a layout artist for Eric Porter Studios, where his credits included Marco Polo versus the Red Dragon (1972). One of Wedd's most publicly-recognised works from this period was the cartoon mascot, 'Dollar Bill', which he devised on behalf of the Decimal Currency Board as part of the public information campaign about Australia's switch to decimal currency in 1966.
Wedd's ongoing interest in Australian history found renewed expression in a comic-strip biography of the Australian bushranger, "Ned Kelly", which debuted in Sydney's Sunday Mirror newspaper in 1974. Its success led to a further bushranger serial, "Ben Hall", which commenced in the Sunday Mirror in 1977 . His last comics project, "The Making of Nation", devised to coincide with Australia's bicentennial celebrations in 1988, was syndicated to several newspapers, and was later issued as a two-volume book (self-published by Wedd) in 1988. Wedd, who was a frequent guest on Australian television programmes throughout the 1960s, wherein he often displayed items from his extensive collection of historic Australian artefacts, which was stored in his North Sydney suburban home, before it was relocated to the purpose-built Monarch Historical Museum in Port Stephens (New South Wales) in 1998, which he operated with his wife, Dorothy. Wedd, recipient of the Stanley Award for "Adventure/Illustrated Strip Artist" in 1987 and 1989, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1993, in recognition of his service to the community as an historian, writer and illustrator.
The funeral service for Monty Wedd will be held at St Paul's Anglican Church, Stockton, on 15 May 2012.
(Thanks to Nat Karmichael for bringing this sad news to my attention. For further news coverage, click here. To listen to 1233 ABC Newcastle's 2007 radio interview with Monty Wedd, click here. Image of Monty Wedd courtesy of Greg Ray at Collecting Books & Magazines.)