Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

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

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.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Today's DANDY

Here's a glimpse at today's new Harry Hill story, We also did Little Gordon Ramsey, where my appreciation of early Hulk stories in SMASH! can be identified!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Count Arthur

Yesterday evening I travelled all the way to Manchester to watch five people record a radio show. Yes, that's right, watched a radio show! Here they are:
Alistair Kerr, Mel Geidroyc, Count Arthur Strong, Barry Cryer and Dave Mountfield.
A splendid time was had by all.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Dennis, take a Bow!

Sometimes you get asked to do a one-off, special drawing. Sometimes it's forgotten about and only remembered when it falls out of a pile of other stuff - like this one did yeaterday! I don't know why Dennis is charming the Liver birds from the Liver Building with his awful guitar playing- but as it was only published in a Liverpool newspaper you may like to see it!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The New Dandy

Well, it's one week old, the second issue is out, and I was going to post more stuff about it but decided I couldn't say it any better than our friends over at ComicsUK, who, over the last seven days collectively think:

    • I bought a copy and whisked it off home for a read and, I must say, found it bloody brilliant! I loved the new strips and the comic itself was full of excitement. I just loved it. Now I can't wait for next week's issue.  Welcome back, Dandy. You have been missed.
    • CONGRATULATIONS to the creators, the editorial team and DCT for being bold with this relaunch.
      • I will let my sons read it as well (they are 12 and 10) and try to post their opinions in next few days but I think they are going to LOVE it!
      • Just read it. FANTASTIC! Enjoyed it from start to finish, I love Jamie's little doodle characters throughout the comic!
        • I've read it...liked the flavour of it..also some nice puzzles to make the Dandy last longer.. this is a comic worth keeping and rereading..Also Postman Prat is fun!! The best of all has to be Harry Hill and Pre Skool Prime Minister liked how he stopped a nuclear war. Also love the different colours on each border..
          • I like the Dandy better than The Beano!! Great to see zany and silly in large doses in the comics again..
            • After all this fuss, I just had to have a look through this comic today: bright and colourful, with much better quality paper than the DANDY I remember. [twice as many pages as I remember as well]: very 21st-Century outlook and design.
              • The cartoonists and writers all seem to have had great fun working on this, and I wish this new update of the comic great success.
                • The comic certainly does stand out on the shelf. It's design is very modern and not like any other comics.
                  • Bought it, read it, loved it!
                    • I am really really impressed. The artwork is great and the stories are funny. I think Harry Hill is fab and Postman Prat has so much potential. I always liked Desperate Dan,but now he's in another league -I was looking at some of his recent strips on Jamie's website. Very funny.
                      • Very nice looking comic indeed, if I was 10 years old again I'd be a happy bunny with this version - lovely bright colours , great paper and modern art styles
                        • Liked all the strip art (the stories are aimed at kids and go over my head re humour, but if was 10 I'd be gutting myself lol) in particular I really liked George V Dragon,Harry Hill and Kid Cops.
                        • I think the new Dandy is brilliant. It's all comic strip, and all the comic strips are good.
                          • Picked my copy up this morning as an old fart I found it refreshing, I now declare Dandy the best humour comic on the market.
                            • Some good art and stories, I tended to like the strips that had some familiar detailed background to them, like Harry Hill,Postman Prat,Little Simon & Pepperoni Pig,
                            •  Well done everyone who has worked on the new 'Dandy'I hope it's a great success and I don't see why not.
                            • Got the New Dandy, really liked it There's several strips in there that I'll happily buy it every week in order to read.
                            • I'll add myself to the list of people who are massively impressed at Wayne's range of art styles
                            • As a 54 year old I picked up the new Dandy expecting not to be impressed but the opposite turned out to be the case. I like it. It is alive!
                            • t's a MASSIVE improvement from the quality of the paper as soon as you pick it up you know your in for a treat. Im sure the kids will love it. It's a real contender,it looks like the Beano has it's old rival back and the games on to win over the kiddies with two top quality productions! Strips like the new bananaman made me chuckle just for the drawing style and poses, very lively! Same goes for the energy in Harry Hill and the others it's got a great boisterous attitudeit's a fabulous production huge congratulations to everyone who was involved, you have made me feel more optimistic about the future of British comics!
                            • My personal favourite was George and Dragon, but I did like the Harry Hill script as it harks back to the feel of the Krazy Gang in Cheeky.The funniest thing was listening to my 16 year old moaning that the likeness of Simon Cowell wasn't good enough!
                            • I grabbed a copy yesterday, and I have to say I was so impressed. Its fresh and just what was needed. It would be great for the beano and dandy rivalry to return, now that the Dandy is a comic again
                                    Nicely put.

                                    44 years? surely some Mistake?

                                    Apparently this comic is 44 years old today - that of course cannot be true as I read it and loved it as a child. So it can't be THAT long ago- anyaway, let's have a look at it:
                                    1. Cover- these covers were awaited with bated breath and near-hysteria every Wednesday morning in the 60s, as they provided the ONLY colour photos of the Thunderbirds, Stingray or Fireball models.
                                    2. Speaking of which, this Fireball XL5 page by Mike Noble is from the era where he achieved what many consider his finest work. I personally prefer his earlier fireball work, but I wouldn't go to war about it.
                                    3. Bill Titcombe again at his peak, with that casual, cool style that personified 1960s cartooning.
                                    4. John M Burns, in his early days but already so distinctive and brilliant. Can you believe we had to make do with his black and white pages way back then?!
                                    5. Back cover by Ron Turner, again at his peak, and what a terrific sense of design.
                                    (If you're wondering why I didn't include Frank Bellamy's Thunderbirds, at the time of this particular issue, he was taking a break to design the Winged Avenger images for The Avengers ABC TV series.)

                                    With all these guys working at or near their full potential, is it any wonder we sad 1960's readers look back with fondest memories at those days?

                                    Dandy Day Again

                                    Yes, it's week 2 of the NEW all-funny Dandy so I'm off to buy a couple and I hope you do, too, it can't hurt and you may get a laugh or ten out of it. This week, Harry Hill finds out exactly how many cooks spoil the broth.                                  

                                    Dennis goes a little (tea)potty

                                    Sometimes it's required for this sort of thing to happen. Over the summer, I was asked to paint this teapot, so I did. You can't buy one, it was a one-off for charity. And that's about it. Cheers!

                                    From the Archive

                                    1993 and I'd been drawing 'Baywatch' for 37 weeks (according to the numbers at the bottom of the page!). I would continue to do so for another 26 weeks or so. This was written by Nick Pemberton, who had written for stage and TV (certainly 'Brookside'), and would later write 'Hadrian's Heroes' for me, and drawn (and coloured) by me. At that time I used dip pen, W&N black ink and Pantone pens to colour (the original health-draining ones!) I did my own lettering as well, can't recall anything about how I did it, except it was done on overlay. The title logo took HOURS to get right.