Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

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

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Last Chance To See

After 144 pages over the past 15 months, next week's Dandy (the bumper Christmas edition) has the very last Harry Hill's Real-life adventures in TV Land.

Now It Can Be Told, part 2:
It's been hard work, but very enjoyable. I didn't originally intend to write or co-write them all, but it ended up that way, and I must have scripted more than 100 of those pages, and worked out more from brief plots: Sean Baldwin wrote several full scripts and I adapted parts of others into different stories. Duncan Scott wrote half a dozen too. David Quantick supplied three paragraphs, each being a delicious distillation of a daft idea which I gratefully adapted into full stories. I also spoke with Al Murray, Milton Jones, Brenda Gilhoolie and others, including, would you believe it, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (yes, really!!) who wanted to help but in the end couldn't find the right approach, so a big thank you to Sean and Duncan and David who really got the feel and came through with great ideas! Of course Harry Hill himself was very helpful, and came up with the strapline, 'Real-life Adventures in TV Land' which defined and directed the whole enterprise! He also texted me with the news that he found the first one "insane, hilarious and original" which I elected to take as a compliment.

As I'd never written anything for DC Thomson, let alone Harry Hill before, I had initially hoped someone (a writer perhaps?) would write the scripts, but after writing the first episode myself, the general consensus was that obviously a writer wasn't required as the pictures and my word balloons seemed to work out just fine. So, partly as a 'selling point' and partly to obscure the true credits in case the strips were thought a bit second rate (not having been written by a writer!), I made up the fiction that Harry Hill wrote them and I just drew them, but, dear reader, as we are now at the end of the line, I can exclusively reveal that I wrote most of them as I went along- quite literally, drawing a bit, writing the word balloon- drawing a bit more- changing what I'd done in the word balloon- and so on, until after two or three days real effort, as if by magic, out came a finished two page set. It was really was 'as if by magic' because usually I found it very very difficult to come up with an idea and make it work, let alone pepper it with jokes and such, and many times I felt like giving up, spending hours and hours trying to get one line written right. And struggling to think of a new way to get 'FIIIGGHHTT!' or 'What are the chances of that happening' into the dialogue often seemed beyond my capabilities.  Yet somehow I managed to churn out two (or four - or, on one memorable occasion, TWELVE-) pages a week. After investing so much time and energy into them, I was glad that a lot of people seemed to like them, and, although at least one odd little clique of protesters will be delighted to see the end of the strip, I know some readers will be saddened to hear it's all over.

I'd like to thank Harry for his continued enthusiasm and encouragement, and his agents, both past and present, who helped us, particularly his new agent who was very supportive and wanted to extend the franchise to other areas. And I'd like to thank Craig, the Dandy editor, for starting the whole thing off and keeping it going as long as it did.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

More Reg and Tony

The old NP Time Machine takes us back to 1959 again and more Reg Parlett-drawn Tony Hancock pages from Film Fun. Innit marvellous?!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Highly recommended this week...

Yes, it's the next to last Harry Hill of the Year, so don't miss out! The last one is in the Christmas issue, and the next Dandy won't be out until 2012 is upon us, so do yourself a massive favour and pick up The Dandy, and see these Harry Hill escapades, brilliantly written, adequately drawn and wonderfully coloured!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Spidey battles the Comics Code

The latest edition of Roy Thomas's excellent 'fanzine' ALTER EGO  no. 105 has been published with a fine cover recreation of Spiderman trapped under a great weight of machinery, graphically demonstrating this issues theme, the effect of the Comics Code in the USA in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The feature has plenty of examples of changes wrought, with stories published BEFORE the code being bowlderized by having guns, fists, knives removed, sweat lessened, skin colour changed (always to white) and wrinkles decreased(!). Even more interesting are stories which couldn't be reprinted without major alterations, in some cases all the dialogue and some pictures completely done anew!

The turning point for the Code, when it's rather draconian oppression was held up for scruitiny, came in 1971 after Marvel comics were asked to do an 'anti-drugs' story by the government. However, the Comics Code forbade the use of and the mention of drugs, so it would be next to impossible to accomplish the request. Stan Lee, editor at Marvel, decided to publish the story, (a rather heavy-handed and glib tale, as it turned out) in a 3 part Spider-man run, WITHOUT the seal of the Comics Code. And, as the world didn't end, the comic still sold, and garnered plenty of positive reaction, the Code was seen to be due a review, which in turn led to it's weakening and eventual termination.

Here are the published cover (top) of one of those Spider-man issues, and a rejected cover rough for the same issue. I guess it was deemed just TOO graphic! Note that the seal of the code is not present on the version that reached the shops, but IS on the rough, clearly done on a photostat of a cover template.

ALTER EGO is a fascinating read, as always, and you feel like you've just done an Open University degree module on the subject once you've digested everything, it's so detailled and backed up with notes, examples, opinions of those involved and direct reportage. That will not appeal to many, I know, but I find it endlessly interesting! Good on yer, Roy!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

If it's tomorrow, it's DANDY!

Yes, wednesday brings the unutterable joy of a brand new Dandy and a brand new Beano! And in the Dandy, Harry Hill has a go at an elephant joke! How can you resist?!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Support the Beano!

Just like these characters do.
Of course there's The Dandy and BeanoMAX too, they deserve your support as well. End of commercial. For today!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fireworks day, done best.

As imagined in 1964 by the legendary Leo Baxendale, who needs no introduction.  A large copy of this has been on the wall of my studio for many years.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Halloween and all that!

All the usual Dandy artists and writers have been out trick-or-treating and have come up with a nice Halloween issue for you! Jamie Smart's Dan, Lew Stringer's Postman Pat and Andy Fanton's George vs Dragon are all there, as is Harry Hill, or should I say Harry C-Hill! Well, maybe.

Anyway, if that wasn't exciting enough, NEXT week, it's the Fantastic Fireworks Day issue!! Excellent!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Argghh! It's 'Im!

Yes,  look who it is! Jonah's back, in this month's BeanoMAX! Don't ask how, don't ask why, just enjoy the most unlikely return of the year (so far!)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Dandy & Beano days again

This weeks Dandy is full of the usual hilarious stuff, but has a moody cover shot drawn in a slightly different style by me and coloured by Nika.
This week's Beano has four extra pages and a few surprises.
But the surprises don't end there! Keep reading the Beano and The Dandy and you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Don't Forget the Dandy

I haven't forgotten.  Here's a frame from this week's ace Harry Hill strip, coloured by Nika, and somehow enjoyed even by those people who don't like it. Strange but true.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Dudley's Dan

Here's the original art from the April Fool's issue of The Dandy in 1938. Slick and funny drawing by the legendary Dudley Dexter Watkins, the dynamo of D C Thomson.
Nice, isn't it?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

D C Thomson day again

Today, as every Wednesday, I'll be buying The Beano and The Dandy-  honestly, it's what Wednesday is for! The Dandy this week commemorates the natal anniversary of everybody's favourite funnyman, as you can see in Nika's imaginatively coloured birthday cake pic, left. So much heat- so many candles!

Did You Know
a subscription to The Dandy works out at only £1 per issue?!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

To the Max!

Let us not forget the monthly BeanoMAX- here's a taster for the next issue- looks like a good 'un!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hooray! Dandy Day Today!!

At last, it's Wednesday, or Dandy day as it's known in some enlightened quarters. And I've done a nice Harry Hill strip which is guaranteed funny. Here's a bit of a preview, but the whole thing, with plenty of other funny stuff too, of course, is on sale now, only £1.50 - or, if you take out a subscription, only £1. Bargain!

And don't forget The Beano! That's out today, too, and believe it or not, that's only £1.50 too! Splendid.

Monday, 12 September 2011

3D Dennis

I'd forgotten about this!
Apart from the weekly comics, there's a lot to be done- in 2008 I designed this vinyl Dennis the Menace doll.  The final product looked quite nice, I thought. And the catapult and peashooter - neat.

Internet Comments

 You know how sometimes comments on Internet forums can have a life of their own, bringing forth absurd, angry rants? The (very) few forums I look at with any regularity are generally pleasant, informative, thoughtful places, but occasionally tempers flare, sometimes for clear reasons.
However, this seemingly innocuous video on YouTube descends pretty quickly into farce, the heat generated is so intense:
 "Titanic Video"
There are over 100 pages of comments. Most seem to take umbrage at the word 'video' ("there was no video in those days"), some believe the Titanic was in 1812 (before "colour video, that's why it's black and white!") quite a lot believe the Titanic is just a movie made in the 90s about a fictional ship, some seem to think there's a conspiracy in there somewhere (well, it IS the internet, after all) and these are just some of the more rational comments.

It's just six months till the anniversary of this awful disaster, and the Mersey Maritime Museum are having a big exhibition. Go and see the new Museum of Liverpool while you're there.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dngerous Dan- what's his story?

See the Beano Website here

The Beano's secret agent, Dangerous Dan has been running for six weeks now and the Beano website have put up a little article about how it was created. The name I coined and hoped they'd use, Danger Dan, was in homage to Patrick McGoohan's TV show of the 1960s, Danger Man, but the Beano went for their original title, Dangerous Dan.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Way We Were

Presented for historical perspective only.
Yes, this sort of thing WAS considered acceptable in 1968.

Back after these adverts

Over the years I seem to have done quite a few advertising strips that appeared in various comics- here's a handful of them from The Beano. What I found interesting about them was the different styles and approaches needed, and also how to solve the problem of making a static item have a bit of movement or personality. Sad to say, contrary to poular belief, the advertising industry doesn't dish out freebies, so I won't be getting a free ticket to the Olympics- nor did I get a free bottle of 'Nesquik', nor even a free 'Milky way'. It's a hard life.
These were all hand-coloured by me, except for the new Olympics one which was done inhouse by publisher DC Thomson.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

In the Beaginning...

First of all, I started Bea as a 1/3rd of a page strip in the Beano, but within a couple of months, by early 1999, she was a full page star. This is one of the earliest ones, and I felt we'd really got a good distinct personality here- the firth frame, where Bea is critiquing another childs' daub with the words "'at's rubbish!" came out just right.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

DANDY Wednesday

Like every Wednesday, tomorrow is Dandy Wednesday. Here's Harry Hill explaining his superstitions in another comic strip which, as every week, has more jokes per inch than any other comic strip in the world, and that's official, 'cos I've measured them all. So if you need a laugh or several, that's where they are.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Dangerous Dan- That's all for now

Rolling off the presses as I type this is the final (sixth) episode of The Beano's summer strip, Dangerous Dan - or is it? Reader response, as always, will determine whether he shall return one day-  and there's a Readers Poll in next week's issue.
Anyway, looks like he wasn't just daydreaming after all!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Mum fans Special

The Dandy's famous toddling twosome, Cuddles and Dimples, was originally drawn by Barrie Appleby. When I took over in 2004, I only made one minor change- I made their mum less of a dolly bird and more of a... well, Hot Wife as someone once said.
This is probably her most famous appearance, from 26 May 3007, and, trust me, there IS a reason for the costumes, a really, really good reason. Escapes me for the moment... I was fully expecting someone at DC Thomson to draw in a tasteful coat or something on mum, but to my surprise, they didn't! And I know that one or two people have expressed their fondness for this particular frame.
Oh well, too late now. 
Coloured by Ruth.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Dandy Day

Tell your friends! The Dandy is on sale today, as it is each and every Wednesday. It's big, colourful, funny, packed full of stuff and a bargain too.
So now it's over to you!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Strange World of Gurney Slade

We old-TV-show enthusiasts often came across the name- The Strange World of Gurney Slade- and heard it spoken of in reverent tones. Described as 'Alice in Wonderland meets The Prisoner' or 'Thurber meets Billy Liar', it sounded too good to be true. The fact that it was last shown in it's one and only repeat run in 1963 only added to it's mystique.
Then in 1992, Frank Muir kindly let us see the first episode. It didn't disappoint! Now, 51 years after it's debut, here it is, complete! And the praise heaped on it was entirely justified. It's both a template and dismantling of British TV of the forthcoming decade, and a fascinating attempt at creating something that could only work on television.
Written by soon-to-be Morecambe and Wise writers Sid Green and Dick Hills and created by and starring Anthony Newley and a cast of dozens that burgeons from week to week, it's sharp, satirical, thoughtful and, yes, funny, and would have worked perfectly in 1967 once everyone else had caught up!
Watch a trailer for the new DVD of it here
Newley wasn't too dismayed by Gurney Slade's lack of success (critics on the whole loved it, but viewers on the whole hated it!)  as he teamed up with another writer to do a sort of stage musical of the same kind of idea with Stop the World, I Want to Get Off in 1963, which introduced his most famous and enduring song, What Kind of Fool Am I?
Network have just issued this DVD, just another in the long line of titles they have brought out of hibernation., and as usual, a nice booklet and superb packaging.  There's no other DVD company that does such a good job.

Monday, 15 August 2011

There's a Ghost in My House

I'd been ghosting for The Dandy for a while when I finally got the chance to ghost for The Beano in 1997 thanks to the late Ken Cummings , a young scriptwriter who gave me a try out on those Pocket Size libraries.

A Ghost artist is someone who draws in the style of another cartoonist, and the comics used to be full of us! Here are some of my 'Ghost Jobs' from my early days at The Beano.
This was my first published work in The Beano! Not too bad, a fair representation of  Bob Nixon.

An obscure strip, and I only ever did one, which I liked doing a lot.

I've ghosted Ken Harrison and Tam Paterson's versions of Minnie, but this one is a fair mimicking of Jim Petrie

An even MORE obscure strip, and again the only time I ever drew it.

I first drew The Bash Street Kids by mistake in 1984 (long story!) But from 1988 I drew them occasionaly. This one, from April 3rd 1999, was the first one I felt totally happy with, feeling that I'd got a good handle on the late Leo Baxendale/early David
Sutherland feel. As with most of these ghost jobs, the colouring was done in-house at DC Thomson.
Hand coloured by me,  I must have done a dozen 'Fun Size's but only one weekly. It's not a very close match for John Sherwood, but I was busy drawing other strips, most in my own style.

Again, coloured by me, by hand. I did three of these, and there was going to be a fourth, but somehow wasn't! Again, the style was supposed to be David Sutherland or Vic Neill, but ended up more like me. Not surprising!

Beano, I've got it covered.

Three more Beano covers from 1999, 2003 and 2004, all hand-coloured by me.

The first one, with the Vampire Dennis image, was, I think my second or third Beano cover, and, as I sometimes did, I had drawn it and coloured it and was just about to cram it into a postal tube when I decided I could improve it. This is that 'improved' cover, but The Beano were sent both and chose one.

The second cover, above, of Dennis and Gnasher snowboarding was a favourite of mine at the time, it was one of those that comes out fast and right and I didn't change anything. Took about an hour (partly because the hand-colouring was made easier as it was set in the snow!)

The third cover, left, is one of the last 'full page' images. I was quite pleased with it as it was again a very fast cover.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Beano Covers

Ten years ago, I drew a lot of these- Beano covers, featuring Dennis the Menace. This one in particular posed a few problems for me as I tried to plan how to draw it -until I remembered Will Eisner's 'Spirit'- and suddenly, there it was. Nice and simple, bold and graphic.

Hand-coloured by me.

5...4...3...2...1 !

Back in 1992 I had the great pleasure of working with Alan Fennell on Thunderbirds - and with Keith Page, who re-drew a lot of the faces on this, my first Thunderbirds story! I don't know why, but he did, and here's an example!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

What's his name

Once upon a time, the artist, illustrator or, my preferred term cartoonist, in comics was anonymous. then some weren't. It all depended on the publishers. Some had no problem advertising they had secured the talents of certain pencil and inkpot pushers.
But other publishers seemed to think that the readership preferred to imagine that the entire contents of a comic were by 'The Artist'.
You could see their point- DC Thomson allowed Dudley Watkins to have his name on the front of every Beano because they were proud of him (and he knew it- long story) but didn't allow anyone else (Allan Morely aside) to sign their work, seemingly because if the artist died or retired or - heaven forbid- sought work elsewhere, another illustrator would be needed, and they would have to draw as near as possible in the same style, and that would just be confusing- better not have ANY names at all. Fleetway were the same.
However, Odhams Press were clearly delighted to have obtained Leo Baxendale and allowed him to put his name boldly on every page he drew. Same with City magazines where Frank Bellamy's signature was emblazoned with panache across all his Thunderbiords spreads in TV Century 21.
And, back in those days, it was those two signatures, Baxendale and Bellamy, that impressed me- these drawings were by real people- they'd even signed their name!

When I started out in comics I had two pen names and my actual name, and would attempt to place one or other of them in the work. knowing that DC Thomson would erase them, and tried to hide it- I remember once hiding it in a downpour of rain which was blanked out, and in a patch of long grass, which wasn't spotted and blanked out- but then maybe it wasn't worth putting one's monicker on it if was so well-hidden that nobody had seen it, not even someone looking for it!
Other publishers were fine about it. (In the main!)

In 1998 when  back at the Dandy and Beano, I noticed nobody was signing their work, So, getting 'my own strips', Beaginnings and Owen Goal,  I put my name on them, knowing that they would be erased.

Except they weren't!

When asked, the editors said they felt the practice of obliterating signatures was a bit old-fashioned. Who couldn't be glad to see David Sutherland, toiling anonymously since 1962 on The Bash Street Kids, put his name on it eventually, as did many others. Nowadays, it's unusual not to see a signature.
I'm all in favour of putting the writers name on, and so on!

He's New

Beginning this week The Beano has a new character DANGEROUS DAN, SECRET AGENT, drawn by me. Here he is.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Another bumper Dandy

Here's a sneaky preview peek at a comic that's not out this week OR even next week, but the week after!  These Chris McGee covers are very funny with their 'weekly world News' look, and the comic is stuffed full of the usual unusual stuff.
So, come on, why not take out a subscription, especially if you're in one of those areas where WHSmith has decided not to stock it. Don't make me come down there.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Top Comic Secrets Revealed!

The late comedian and TV game show host Bob Monkhouse was famous, of course, and rightly so, as a 'human joke machine'. In 1991 he was guest of Honour at a Charity Dinner in Birmingham and made a speech that was hilarious, informative and moving. But mainly hilarious.
And he had a less well-known side in his younger years as a cartoonist- and not just any old cartoonist, but a comic cartoonist! Editor/publisher Mick Anglo (still totally with us in 2011 at the age of 95 I'm happy to say) gave the teenage Bob pretty much free rein but over at DC Thomson, young Bob was forced to draw 'house style' when he drew Pansy Potter.
Here's a dedicated postcard he made out for me once, with an extra cartoon on the reverse just to prove it!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Smart and Bright

How can one comic contain Two such Titanic talents?? Well, click
here to find out!
Steve Bright looks like he's really enjoying drawing this!