The artist and illustrator Ionicus, whose real name was Joshua Armitage, was a Punch “regular” contributing cartoons and drawings for more than 40 years, but he was best known for his work illustrating the comic world of P. G. Wodehouse.
Armitage's artistic talents were encouraged from an early age, when his school art master put his name forward for a Cheshire county junior art scholarship, which led him on to studying at Liverpool College of Art.
During the Second World War he served in the Navy, but defective eyesight prevented him from obtaining a commission. Apart from a spell on minesweepers, his service was largely spent on instructional duties in signalling. It was during his wartime naval service that he sent his first batch of cartoons to Punch magazine. It was, in fact, this first publication for Punch, featuring Ionic columns in the background of the cartoon, which determined Armitage's choice of penname – Ionicus. Armitage, under the pseudonym of Ionicus, also contributed to the Admiralty sponsored monthly magazine Ditty Box - “the Navy's Own Magazine”.
After demobilisation, having spent a year struggling as a freelance artist, he returned to his pre-war career of teaching art in Liverpool, working briefly at Wallasey School of Art, before leaving in 1950 to freelance once again.
As he established himself as a Punch "regular", he also obtained work as a book illustrator, providing cover designs and text illustrations for nearly 400 books, where his gentle sense of humour and unique style won him many admirers.
He was noted above all for his interpretations of the much-loved characters in P. G. Wodehouse's novels - Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves – providing 58 covers for Penguin Books' Wodehouse paperback series.