Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist
This is him, at a recent Comic Con

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Guess where I am?

Sorry to seem like I'm avoiding the ice, snow, rain or gloom of Britain, but I'm in Greece today, and quite by chance, avoiding the ice, snow, rain or gloom of Britain. So here's to us, hope there's plenty more cartoons to come and a Happy New Year too!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Season's Greetings

Weather permitting, I'm on my way somewhere known for it's sunshine! So here's a slice of the Old Country just to remind me of what I've left behind today..

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Giles at Christmas

No-one does Christmas like Carl Giles! Here he is at the time of the first motorway in England, 1959. And so, as I prepare to board this plane for a sunny 8 days away, I wish you all a very happy time. My blog will continue to update automatically (like this!) until I returm at new Year!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Dennis The Menace

A Christmas quiz now for the stuck-indoors amongst you (including me today, explaining the sudden blogging glut) When and by whom were these drawings done?
a) In 1969 by Davy Law? b) In 1988 by Dave Sutherland?  c) In 1999 by Yours truly?

Yes, of course, the answer is none of the above! They were drawn about six months ago, by me. But how so, I obviously don't hear you ask; hasn't Dennis undergone at least two image revamps since he looked like that? Yes, he has, and in the world of merchandising, that doesn't bring in 30, 40, 50 and 60-somethings who are on the look out to buy something of a brand they recognise from childhood. So these little fellows were designed for cufflinks! How smart they must make one feel!

Edited to show this lovely photo of a similar item (click to view larger)

Oo! Oo!

Car 54 Where Are You was a must-see TV show for us. The equine features of lanky, lugubrious Fred Gwynne as Muldoon (later to be Herman Munster) and the excited staccato bellowing of Joe E Ross as Toody were always welcome. Throw in Beatrice Pons as Toody's hysterical and piercing wife and the wonderful Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster) as Officer Schnauser, and how could it fail? Written and conceived by Bilko creator Nat Hiken, it only ran for two years, but, thanks to Channel 4 in the 1980s and Bravo and Sky 1 in the 1990s, I was able to build up an entire set of episodes, bar one. Now, the whole shebang is being put out on DVD in February, and should I inexplicably win the lottery, which I never enter, I shall immediately buy everyone a copy so they can enjoy this mild-mannered friendly dig at New York's finest.

All together now-
"There's a hold-up in the Bronx
Brooklyn's broken out in fights
There's a traffic jam in Harlem that's backed up to Jackson Heights,
There's a Scout troupe short a child,
Kruschev's due at Idelweild...!"

Banned! part One

Ken Reid delighted in pushing his macabre and hilarious pictures to the extreme- and some thought he pushed too far with this Dare-a-Day Davy strip from 1968 which never did see the light of day in POW! that year, nor any other year- nor anywhere else.
Maybe it was a step too far in those days, and maybe it's several steps too far these days- but Ken was a true original and gave his all in his work- sometimes he would make himself ill with obsessively trying to do better all the time. For the sake of his health it wasn't worth it, but for the sake of the readers (and I was one of them in that unsurpassed 1964-70 period) it was well worth it.
Note how he reprises the catchphrase associated with his much missed Beano charcater Jonah - "Agh! It's 'im!"

Keep on Trekking

In late 1968, the British illustrator Harry Lindfield undertook a new commission for a proposed new Joe 90 comic- to boldly draw what no man had drawn before- at least in the UK- a comic strip of Star Trek, a big hit on American TV in 1966-7 but starting to inexplicably look like it may be cancelled soon.
Star Trek was still nine months away from it's debut on British TV- as a summer replacement for Dr Who on Saturday tea-time.

Which is probably why no-one at City magazines knew that the Captain's name was Kirk, not Kurt! Nice likenesses though, as always from Harry.
Within the year, of course, Star Trek had become a huge success here in Britain, and so it was promoted to the front page of  TV21 & Joe 90, and often drawn, as here, by the unstoppable, meticulous Mr Mike Noble, all hail. And everyone now knew it was Captain KIRK!

I detect a slight drop in temperature

Can't deny it any longer, it's turned a touch chilly this weekend, hasn't it?

In the bleak Midwinter or what

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas Dandy

Tomorrow (or today if you're lucky!) sees the publication of the BIGGEST Dandy ever! Why not give it a go?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

My Favourite Editor Part Four

In 1996 I was rescued from 15 months of unemployment by Audrey Wong at Egmont Fleetway.
If that isn't enough for me to make her one of my favourite editors, how about: She always included copious reference material, gave as much notice as possible, and would fax or phone with ideas and compliments and suggestions.
Other people can offer more detailled stories about her, but I found her charming and thoughtful, and if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be in comics today, she gave me back my enthusiasm (and a job!)

This drawing of her by Mark Bennington in Ace Ventura Adventures gives you an idea of what she looked like in 1996. Here she is now:


Every day I passed this library on the way to school, with it's quote from Francis Bacon (c.1600). Every day for seven years I had a good chuckle at this bit of graffiti. Not that I agree with graffiti in general, it's usually ugly, dumb, or dumb and ugly. But this example I thought was an exception. In 1978 they cleaned it off and it hasn't been back. In case you can't see it clearly it says:

Reading Maketh a Full man
Conference a Ready man
Writing an Exact man
Bacon a Fat man.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Dandy

There's been a slight hiccup with the Dandy this week (barcode mayhem at the printers!) so it may not hit the shops till Friday. Which is a pity because I got a little topical bit in (but sad) which only really works today. Anyway, here it is.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Did You Save the Man From BUNGLE?

Not sure this would work, but...

More More! By Request!

SMASH again. These full page Baxendale covers are a real treat. Back in February 1966 they were a newsagent's dream, making the comic fly off the shelf!
Ron Spencer and Brian Lewis drew later Man From BUNGLE covers (before Batman's sudden arrival in June 1966) which were great, but never quite had The Master's edge!

If you're wondering, the mid sixties were the height of the 'cool spy craze' which had originated with the first Bond movie in 1962, reached fever pitch when Cathy Gale joined Steed, boiled over when Kirby brought us Agent of SHIELD in 1965 and went ballistic with the part-spoof spy series The Man from UNCLE leter that year. Of course Leo Baxendale's own 'Eagle Eye, Junior Spy' was an earlier part of the trend. Within a year the spying part of the genre had given way to the parody part, and we got Mrs Peel, the Girl from UNCLE and Maxwell Smart taking it more and more to ludicrous extremes before the proverbail tin-hat was put on it by Sparky's own I Spy and the gadgetry and satire could go no further!

All Over by Christmas

I started this blog in September with the sole intention of having an online presence from which to promote and inform the Dandy relaunch. Clearly I had to first establish who and what I was and at that time I couldn't mention the new plans (partly because right up till two weeks before October 27th, no-one knew exactly what would be happening!) so I filled the blog with chatty stuff about me and my work. It was my plan, by about today, to close my blog as it had served it's purpose. However, I've quite enjoyed it, and I know some others have enjoyed reading it, so if I may, I'd like to continue, every so often, to post here. It won't be nearly so frequent, but I hope it will sometimes be of interest to you. Or if not you, then someone.

More from the same sad source

Looking at the National Geographic reject reminded me of yet another rough, a collaboration between Julie and myself- it was her original idea (based on her younger brother!) and we thought we had a winner! We were wrong. Again, never referred to, never mentioned, I doubt it was even looked at. Now here it is, sitting quietly in comics limbo, ah well. More about Julie Here 
and here

Yet More fom the Reject pile (9 of 9,000)

Another 'rough' that I tried out on National Geographic Kids' magazine, after they asked me to come up with something, in 2008. I suppose I was thinking of the Look and Learn or World of Wonder approach, hence the fancy colouring (by me). Anyway, it was not to be- in fact I never heard back about this, so I guess it wasn't good enough. Nor my proposed follow ups, Mission Apollo, the Polynesians, Francis Drake, Magellan, etc etc.  And don't try reading the text, it's just there to look 'finished'!
Thinking about it, I shouldn't have been surprised I got nowhere with this, the editor in charge had been at Marvel UK previously! I should have known!!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Even More Bax

A sensational centre spread from WHAM No 17, 1964, written, drawn and hand-coloured by Leo Baxendale (with a little help from Frank Langford drawing 'Kinky Boots' and R. Pierson doing the hand-lettering). The left hand page is partly obscured by a label in this former publisher's file copy, which details the contributors and their fees. Bax's £80 for this two page spread may seem meagre, but back in 1964 that was a lot more than the average weekly wage, and these were not his only pages that week!

Friday, 3 December 2010

More Bax

It's been a while since we enjoyed a page from Leo Baxendale, and I have been asked to include more, so here's his Grimly Feendish from SMASH no.2, with a topical theme!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Win a DANDY Subscription!

Harry Hill Fansite | Thursday 2 December 2010 

*EXCLUSIVE* Harry Hill Fansite has joined up with the team behind brand new The Dandy to offer all of our readers the opportunity to win a year's subscription to The Dandy!
Wina Dandy subscription!The brand new The Dandy is now home to Harry Hill, with his own unique strip every week that he co-writes and is illustrated by Nigel Parkinson. Each week, Harry and friends, including the Knitted Character, are off on their adventures, getting into catastrophe and capers in an action packed and giggle inducing strip. As well as this, all of your favourites, including Bananaman, Desperate Dan and Korky, are back in the new look The Dandy.
The comic is available every week on Wednesdays for just £1.50. However, here is your chance to win a subscription!
All you have to do is tweet the following text on Twitter to all of your followers:
Harry Hill has joined @dandycomic, out Wednesdays. Thanks to @harryhillfans, RT for a chance to win year's subscription!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

In the shops NOW

Colours Nika (H.H.)
Gillian McKeith may be Out of the jungle today, but look who's IN the jungle! (Topical reference: I don't understand it but I heard people talking about it)
The Dandy this week has another Harry Hill escapade and Little Bruce Forsyth takes us back...back...way back to his childhood. Plus a lot of other stuff too humorous to mention. I'll be buying it. Don't make me do it alone, hear?!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

It's Cold, but not THAT cold

In support of this theory, I give you, left, January 6th this year from my living room window, and below, January 5th this year, from the studio window.

Now, back in those days, it really was cold!

Count down to The Count

Next spring (it can't come soon enough, can it, after this weekend's unseasonal bout of toe freezing?) Count Arthur Strong commences a big tour - it's in bigger venues too. But don't be blase, get your tickets soon! This is a poster I drew the very week The Dandy relaunched, as if I wasn't busy enough, which I think the Count will be using to promote the tour. As the Count would say: "U bends, J cloths, H bombs. Oh, doesn't it make you sick, the alphabet?"

Memory lapse

I came across this today and can't recall if it was ever published. If it was, it would have been around August 2009. Although I did a dozen or so BEA and IVY pages, I didn't even remember drawing a just-IVY page (even though the History of The Beano book for some reason bizarrely reckons that's all I ever did. Research, eh? And I'm still with us. Imagine how "accurate" those histories are where the researcher can no longer just pick up the phone and ask rather than guess or rely on an imperfect memory.) Which reminds me- was this ever printed?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

A small digression. (But art and comics are mentioned.)

They never really got very big, and people confused them with Bananarama for some reason, but The Belle Stars were a proper band - Dave Robinson at Stiff Records tried (successfully, a bit) to market them as seven adorable darlings, and had them record typically-early 80s percussion heavy- pop reworkings of old hits from the 60s. Their only big self-penned hit, (rhythm guitarist Stella Barker had the idea waiting at the 139 bus stop in Camden) 'Sign Of The Times', was the start of a run of catchy singles that gradually became less and less successful as they got better and better. Having seven young women in a band was never going to be easy, and their manager John Rummens recalls trying to get all seven to agree on any one thing was a nightmare.

Eventually the band split up after a fraught week in Germany where miming to their two German hits in white tuxedos on TV for the fourth time in a week led to Clare Hirst (you remember her playing sax with Bowie at Live Aid, I'm sure) storming out, followed by all but three, who elected to stay on as The Belle Stars. They had a minor American hit around the time an earlier cover single, 'Iko Iko' charted big there due to it's being used as the theme to the movie Rain Man.
After a good attempt at a 1986 sound, an album taped in new York and a splendid video, the three-piece Belle Stars (Miranda, Lesley and Sarah-Jane) finally called it a day, and despite up to two of them at a time performing at '80s extravaganzas' in the last ten years, the seven of them have never played together since. Some are still in music- singer Jenny McKewon is gigging still, as is Clare- and some have turned their back on the scene.
The most successful must surely be Miranda Joyce (on sax, above left) who, being only 24 when the Belle Stars ended, decided to pursue what had always been a dream of hers and become a make-up artist. In no time at all, she became a very well respected name in make-up artistry (see below), and she's always been the nicest sort of person too. She appeared in a Dennis the Menace strip once, I had her applying make-up to Dennis at one point!
Last week a new compilation of all the Belle Stars hits, misses and album tracks was released, the press release calling them all singing, all DANCING- completely missing the point that all the instruments you hear on Belle Stars records are played by them, too.
I know they were never cool, never hip, but they were fun.  Remember the slogan: If your feet don't dance to Belle Stars, your shoes don't fit!

Added 2014: listening again to Sign of The Times after discussing it with Miranda, I find that a lot of the song was written by her. The Belle Stars democratically credited all their songs to all seven members, but Sign of The Times would really be better bylined 'Barker/Joyce/Owen.

Friday, 26 November 2010

End of the Line

Sadly D C Thomson have pulled the plug on their digest-sized comics Beano and Dandy funsize. Like several other cartoonists, I got a lot of early work from Ian Gray, who originated the line in 1982. These two were by me, I did about sixty in all.
For the last three years I have not seen one in WH Smith, so in a way it came as a surprise they were still being published.

Laurel and Hardy for Christmas?

If you've ever wanted to see almost all of Laurel and Hardy's best work but baulked at the price tag (it's list price is £199, though it's been on sale for £60 sometimes) or wondered how you're going to get such a monster box home, fret no more, because Lovefilm have a 48 hour sale, and you can get this item for under £33*, postage included! That's 21 discs of prime Stan and Ollie. By clicking on this link you can go right there and buy! Take a look through the whole list, there are dozens of titles, including box sets of The Comic Strip Presents and 30 Rock, for example, at good prices, and some single DVDs are under £3!
But hurry, offer closes on Sunday!

*UPDATE: Well, the offer has now closed, but they're still offering it for under £40. Tesco's bigger stores have it at £31, and HMV 's price is £39. 

Shed Story part 3

This was almost an audition piece. It was the first page I wrote, drew, lettered and coloured in Phase Two of what I laughingly call 'my career' (in the sense of helpless hurtling through life without a clue), back in early 1988.
Prior to this, I hadn't done any colouring for many years, but thanks to working with George Nicholas, creator of Scouse Mouse and the Scallywags, I learned to use the at the time near-lethal Pantone pens (they aren't dangerous nowadays!)
Here is the first page of a four page story published in the last Scouse Mouse comic by Modelbrisk.
It was this issue that impressed Bob Paynter at Fleetway sufficiently for him to take over publication of the comic.
For more details about The Shed, click here
And if you want still more, click HERE

Starting tonight

Some people find it to be like fingernails on blackboards, but as that never bothered me, I can confirm that I will be giving the new series of Peep Show a go tonight. Not comics related, but David Mitchell and Robert Webb did sign a birthday card I drew of them for a fan once, and very nice chaps they were too, quite unlike Mark and Jeremy!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Comics on the screen

In the early 80s the sight of a grown man pretending to draw comics in the Home Counties with a glove puppet on his hand passed for entertainment. As did a 1965 movie about a New York comic book artist who wanted to bump off his Italian bride.
Yes, of course,  I'm referring to Keep it In The Family and How to Murder Your Wife, both of which used a Comic Artist as the central chracater, but frankly he could have been a bus conductor or an office manager or a plumber or a dentist for all the plot revolved around Comics!

Chasing Amy was a little better- any others come to mind? Any other movies or TV shows that star a Comics Artist? And any which actually need the protagonist to be a cartoonist or illustrator to make the plot work?

The only one I can think of is, naturally, The Avengers (ABC tv) where, in "The Winged Avenger" Emma and Steed came face to face with a frankly potty Comics Artist. This may have been inspired by How to Murder Your Wife, but here it's not just a device, it's the crux of the whole affair. Plus you get to watch Diana Rigg.
Anyway, back to the question!

Not an Unknown Quanticky

This week's Dandy has the much ballyhooed debut of one of Harry Hill's TV Burp writers, David Quantick, on the writing team of the Harry Hill strip. So, if you want to see how David deals with Simon Cowell, Harry's new album and some aquatic avian developments, get the Dandy on Wednesday!
David has come up with two further great scenarios which will be made into full stories before long. Thanks, David, the cheque is in the post!
And there could be other surprise writing-assists in the not too distant future.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Whatever Happened To...

When the Dandy was revamped, we said goodbye to a lot of old characters (not forever, though, one day they'll be back, even if it's only for one day!)
So how are they faring in retirement? Well, as they're no longer in Comics, they're aging at a realistic rate, to the age they would have been by now - and possibly some of them are adjusting to life outside the comic's pages more easily than others-


I usually just draw 'em, but sometimes someone asks for ideas, and at that point you have to write 'em too.
'Polly Tickly- Correct!' (Get it?!) concerns the inappropriately nannying Polly and her overprotective, overbearing, overwhelmingly awful approach to life.
This is what we in the business know as a 'Rough' - that is, a 'rough' idea of how the characters will look and the story will flow. A completed job would be more sophisticated. Alas, Polly was just too unsound to proceed and has been retired to the rejects pile, and this blog, where her grating voice and unpleasant haircut can be savoured.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Colourists part three

OK, she's not done much recently, but Ruth here hand-coloured a lot of things in 2006-7, including a lot of Cuddles and Dimples in Dandy and Dandy Xtreme (?) and Dennis in the Beano.
However, now she's back doing the occasional thing, and after a Desperate Dan page for a competition winner, her first newly coloured Dennis pages appear in BeanoMAX's Children in need story this week. And she's helped out on Harry Hill in the Dandy, too, as you'll see; look out for a special cracking Christmas page for starters.

Here she is back in October with her Pantone mug that all colourists are obliged to drink from to maintain their super powers.

Ruth's name appears as either R, RT or RTW (first name, first name and surname, first name and married name!) in the corner of a panel, so if you see one of those, the page is one of hers!

By Hand

From 1998 to 2009 I drew the weekly antics of  BEA, Dennis the Menace's liitle sister, in the Beano. Originally, I drew it and the colours were added by D C Thomson (unusually for me, I normally hand-coloured everything myself and had done since 1988) but during 2003 the Beano ediitor Euan Kerr asked me to hand colour BEA too.
This was my first attempt- I was going for something a bit different, having no key-line on the backgrounds- but I didn't really like it and dropped the idea. Good job, too, because it looks a bit odd. Anyway, look closely and you'll see my hand-colouring technique.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Back to School

Looking at "Fast Forward" magazine the other week reminded me that I spent five years at Grange Hill school, drawing, colouring, lettering and eventually even writing a two-page weekly strip. The stories were not crackerjack affairs of espionage and drama (although I did try that a couple of times!) they were generally rather mundane (dull is the word I'm struggling, unavoidably, to avoid) tales of missing books, new pupils, grumpy teachers and stray dogs, but I would always try to enliven proceedings somehow. In this example from 17 years ago,  I particularly like the big picture showing proceedings from inside the washing machine, looking through the distortion of the big glass door.
Not that I know what the world looks like from inside a washing machine, but it's comics.

Despite doing it for over 5 years, and earning good money from it which can't be ignored, I eventually began to hate drawing this strip. Sometimes I had to sit in front of a VCR watching Grange Hill episodes (they even sometimes sent me an uncut full days shooting- retake after retake- except George A Cooper who was an absolute pro and brilliant!) to get the likenesses. If I ever hear that chirpy Grange Hill theme tune, my stomach flips and I break out in a sweat. To be honest, it wasn't really my kind of thing, but in those days, I used to draw anything and everything, I hadn't realized I should be concerntrating on funnies. For a long time I thought I'd be drawing it forever, but in summer 1994 Phil Redmond and the BBC had a disagreement about the show and this strip was cancelled in the midst of the discussions. A year later, the magazine was cancelled. A few years later, Grange Hill was cancelled. So, there you go.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Harry's on TV, too

I forgot to post this picture the other week (well it has been busy), it's a screen grab of Harry Hill, well-known Dandy star, promoting the comic on, guess what, his TV show, TV Burp! Good man!

I Got The Oranges

Here they are, got.