Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

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

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!


Andy Boal said...

How true. Of the current Beano artists, only Barrie Appleby and Jimmy Hansen don't sign their new strips - although, funnily enough, Dave Sutherland hasn't initialled his work this week.

In this week's Beano, Roger isn't signed which is unusual as Bob Nixon usually initialled his. John Sherwood never did sign his work (the Nibblers), and Lew's Postman Prat isn't signed for some reason!

In Beano Max, John Geering didn't sign his work (the reprint from the Beano Superstars), nor did Evi De Bono (where's Dennis), Dave hasn't signed Evil Edgar, and Kickass Koalas remains anonymous.

Looking at the Dandy, there are quite a few who haven't signed their work. Maybe some will soon...!

Kid said...

Credit where credit is due - it's only fair

George Shiers said...

A few months ago in the Dandy your signiature was hidden behind a speech bubble....

Peter Gray said...

I think the internet has helped name comic site included and toonhound..buster comics website..etc..

I do go for favourite artists more than characters...these days..

glad you got the Beano signing Nigel..:)

Norman Boyd said...

And it took me from 1964 to 1970 to find out the guy I liked so much was some guy called Mike Noble! Of course if I had read his work earlier in the 50s he was credited in certain places, and I would have known! And that child of the early 60s would NEVER have dreamt he'd one day interview him. Life, eh?

James Spiring said...

Andy, those Roger reprints are from 1988 or 1989, which explains the missing signature.

Lew Stringer said...

"Lew's Postman Prat isn't signed for some reason"

Andy, my signature is on the panel where Prat is clearing his van out. It's small, but it's there.