Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist
This is him, at a recent Comic Con (Photo (C) Alan A Andrew)

Friday, 29 October 2010

My 'Holiday' on the Northern Line

 In 1997 I'd had a lot of bits of work, nothing really substantial, for a couple of years. So I took a look at why, and decided I hadn't done enough homework. On December 12th, I set out for a week's intensive study at the British Newspaper Library at Colindale, just North of Hendon Police college. On the long tube journey up from Holborn every morning that week, I anticipated the many hours of reading pleasure ahead.

I had ordered back issues of Beano, Dandy, WHAM!, Buster and many other titles. They arrived at my reading table bound in thick volumes, one per year. I devoured decades of classic strips by everyone from Davy Law to Robert Nixon, from Leo Baxendale in 1954 to Leo Baxendale in 1976 and everyone else in between! .The best part was, they would, for a fee, make a photocopy of the pages you selected, and post them to you! My research progressed. My head was literally spinning on the Friday ( I later learned I'd developed quite a serious illness and would soon be hospitalized, but at the time I thought I was just delerious with joy at seeing all this work of the Masters of Comics!)

Studying the pages and re-studying the copies later on, I learned a great deal about comics, and I started to put it to good use. I had studied comics as a child, but never really looked at them again until this point- and yet I expected to be taken seriously as a cartoonist?! I needed to learn anew and see where I'd made mistakes, cut corners, taken the easy way out. I needed to learn from the best in order to get professional.
Earlier in 1997 I had been given a page or two from the late Ken Cummings at The Beano, and now, thanks to my intensive refresher course at Colindale University of Comics, I was beginning to turn in work they could really use.
After many years of so-so work from 1980 to 1998, I remember Euan Kerr, then-editor of The Beano asking me, in about 2001, "Nigel, how did you suddenly get to be good?" Colindale. That was the reason!

So I enjoyed my time as a keen student of drawing comics, and I'm sorry to hear the plans to digitize and move the collection is still going ahead, as Colindale is expensive to run. It won't be the same without it.

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