Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

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

Friday, 29 October 2010

They don't make 'em like that any more

Back in 1959, the Star Du Jour of British TV was the late Tony Hancock, who, with Sid James (of subsequent Carry On fame) was responsible for emptying the fish and chip shops of Britain on a Friday evening as prospective purchasers stayed in to watch 'The Lad 'Imself' on BBC tv instead. Strangely (as he had only made one movie, and not even as the star) he turned up in 'Film Fun' magazine drawn by three (four if you count the annuals) very different artists. My favourite by a long chalk was Reg Parlett who served up a good six months worth of vintage work (see examples).
After many enquiries I still haven't been able to find out who wrote these scripts which are unusually close in spirit and form to the TV and radio versions. I asked Ray Galton and Alan Simpson themselves as we relaxed sipping wine, talking about fighting Robert Mitchum in an LA car park at midnight in 1960 (Ray, not me!) and the fortunes of Red Star Belgrade and other football clubs of the East in Bournemouth one May evening about five years ago (don't ask!) if perchance they had helped out, but they couldn't remember anything other than signing a waiver. I asked then-Fleetway assistant, Alan Fennell, and he thought one of the old-time Film Fun writers had done them. I asked Tessa LeBar who ran Hancock's business affairs at the time, and she thought Brad Ashton, a comedy writer of great experience had possibly had a hand in them. He said he may have but had no recollection. So I still don't know!

But Reg certainly did an excellent piece of work in capturing the mood and appearance of the TV show, and I thought others may like to see. A strip today about the hero trying to give up smoking would be spiked immediately, but here, it entertains us over two splendid pages. More typical is the holiday two pager, but done with such panache and grace. Reg Parlett, whose effortless style reached a real peak in this era, never drew a better set.
Hats off to him!
Homburg, of course!


Peter Gray said...

Thanks nigel that was a real treat to read..
The 50's era was captured so well by Reg..lots of nice details..

linked this to my blog post so more people get to see this..

Kid said...

Reg Parlett - now you're cookin', NP. What an artist. I've got a page of his original art - loved his RENT-A-GHOST and HARRY'S HAUNTED HOUSE. In fact he never turned out a bad page in his life.

I'm a big fan of Tom Paterson's Leo Baxendale impressions, but not so keen on his BUSTER or SCHOOL BELLE style. I remember Bob Paynter saying - not too long after Tom took over the strip - that it was perhaps a mistake to have made Buster so radically different in style to Reg's version. Apperently it hadn't proved popular with the readers and sales may have suffered because of it.

Niblet said...

Thanks for posting these, Nigel, they're superb, and as you say, mimic the Galton & Simpson style very well. I loved the line 'you'd have to eat your rissoles by radar'.

It's always a treat to see Reg's work, and these are delightful.

I wonder how Hancock felt about sharing the comic billing with Sid, by all accounts he eventually came to resent his TV and radio co-stars (Sid and Kenneth Williams), and got rid of them.