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.


George Shiers said...

It's a shame he's going - it was a very funny and well drawn strip. My favourite line from the whole series was when Jeremy Clarkson bought a pair of shoes and the automatic machine said "Unexpected canoes in the bagging area!"

So is that actually the end of the series as we know it? or are there chances of it returning after a break like others stories have?

Congratulations on everybody who helped in the strip, it was hilarious, very detailed and the colouring was excellent! :D

NP said...

Thanks, George. No, it won't be returning to the Dandy, that's it.

Peter Gray said...

It was the best thing in The Dandy..

well written Nigel...loved all the little details..gags..talking to the reader..
I think the 12 Doctors leaping stood out..

Kid said...

As you know, I'm not a big fan of certain aspects of the new Dandy, but the inclusion of celebrities was never something that bothered me. Harry Hill was definitely one of the better drawn strips (perhaps even THE best) in The Dandy, so I hope you'll be getting work to take its place.

Fanton said...

Aw, that's a proper shame, Nigel. I really enjoyed the strip, and your artwork was never less than sumptuous! Hope you'll have more stuff to fill the void, aside from the Little Celebs.

Lew Stringer said...

Very sorry that The Dandy is losing its lead strip. Easily the wittiest strip in UK humour comics, harking back to the quickfire comedy patter of the best Radio Fun strips (but with a modern edge).

And brilliant artwork too of course!

Jonny Whizz said...

I agree, Harry Hill's run in the Dandy has been great. Your artwork was always brilliant and the scripts were always loaded with gags, which allowed it to stand out even by the high standard set by the Dandy since last year's revamp.

I must also say that I was delighted to hear about the way you wrote the strips as you were drawing them! I always do it that way but I was starting to think that none of the professionals did it - I find that quite reassuring.

I hope you receive another big job on either the Beano or Dandy soon.

Harry Rickard said...

Okay, before I say anything I'll just say I'm not going to have a rant about Harry Hill - in fact I'm going to apologise for my actions and I honestly found Harry Hill was getting a lot better, so much to the point that I think I might just miss it.

I wish you all the best of luck Nigel and I hope to see more of you in the Dandy very soon (maybe a bring back of C&D?)

Although this has opened a big question, what story shall replace Harry Hill as the main story? My guess is one Desperate Dan or Bananaman, I just hope it's not one of the reprinted strips. That'd be awful.

Anyway, good luck Nigel and I'm sorry if I lowered your confidence with any of my rants on celebs in comics.

All the best,
- Harry

Anonymous said...

So... absolutely no hints as to why it's stopping, then?

My dislike of celeb-centric strips (even historical ones from the likes of Film Fun) has been well-documented elsewhere, but I feel Harry Hill was a cut above the rest, and I'll be sorry to see it go.

The quality of both writing and art (and colours!) was consistently excellent, and some of my biggest laughs while reading the Dandy sprang from its pages. It took me a while to get over my prejudices and like it, but when I recently reread the debut issue of the 2010 Dandy (Simon's trousers, what?!), I concluded it simply took a while to get up to speed - by early 2011 or so, when you'd really got into your stride, it had one of the highest LOLs-per-page rates in the entire comic. My favourites were the restaurant and the hospital episodes.

It's a shame it's been cut off in its prime, and I hope you do get another regular strip in the Dandy (and I second Harry's desire to see Cuddles and Dimples brought back!), as it'd be a shame to see your talents wasted on stuff like Jedward's Olympic Torch Tragedy.

-- swirlythingy (whose OpenID service is apparently down)

NP said...

Thanks for the kind words, guys. I can't really comment -yet- on what's going to happen next or why we stopped doing Harry Hill. Except that it wasn't my decision.

Kid said...

NP, I've read on various sites that it's cheaper to subscribe to The Beano and Dandy than it is to buy them in the shops. (At the £1.50 price, it worked out at £1 per issue for subscription.) However, I noticed a few months ago (and again tonight) that The Sunday Post (a DCT publication) is offering a 6 month subscription to The Beano for £40. As this works out at £2 dearer than paying full price for them in shops, then surely the 'subscription is cheaper' claim isn't quite accurate. No doubt I'm missing something and there's an explanation - do you know what it is?

James Spiring said...

£38 for 26 issues? Your maths is wrong, Kid. They always do more expensive issues (£2.50 instead of £1.50) during school holidays. Also, both the three month and annual subscription deals are better than the six month one.

Nigel, so I've heard that Cuddles and Dimples are in the Christmas Dandy too! Are they back for good, or is it a one-off like Marvo last year?

Kid said...

It's not my Maths which is wrong per se, but perhaps my starting premise is. Without a Beano to hand to check the annual subscription price, I was going by the claim on various other sites that the price per £1.50 issue worked out at £1 on subscription.

Therefore, based on that information (which I now learn is erroneous), the cost of 52 issues works out at £52. Only it doesn't, because a yearly subscription is £75 I've now learned. (Because, as you say, this covers more expensive issues throughout the year.)

This leads me to wonder why people were ever claiming that a £1.50 issue only cost about a £1 on subscription when clearly it does no such thing.

However, that covered, the point of my question concerned the discrepancy in costs between different subscription deals. If a year costs £75, six months should surely cost only £37.50? Especially as, for three months at £17, this works out at £34 for six months in two three-monthly instalments.

However, this means that a year only costs £68 in four three-monthly instalments. This doesn't seem, on the face of it, to have been worked out too well, so again I ask - what am I missing? (First person to say "a brain" gets shot.)

(You see my point? It seems to work out cheaper to get either a six month or yearly supply of comics in three month instalments, than it is to get a straight six month subscription. Why?)

Mike said...

The Dandy's subscriptions are £15 for 15 issues, which is certianly £1 an issue! But as the price of the comic has gone up a bit lately maybe subs will too. Not sure about the Beano

George Shiers said...

I think a comic strip all about me should replace Harry Hill ;D

NP said...

OK George.

James, the Cuddles and Dimples was a reprint.

Kid, I dunno about the subs, I buy it at the shops.

George Shiers said...

Yey! I'm excited about seeing it :D

Or if not an entire comic strip - could I appear in the background? That would be aces!

Lew Stringer said...

A quick visit to the DC Thomson website proves that The Dandy is a pound an issue on subscription:

Dandy a pound a copy

The Beano is a bit more expensive for some reason; £17 a quarter on Direct Debit.

Mike Hobart said...

I shall miss it. Living in Australia, I have never seen Harry Hill on television, but the comic strip was always a high point of The Dandy each week.

You know what the old music hall star said: "Always leave them wanting more..."

James Spiring said...

New Year comics ae out already - is that your Bananaman, in the BEANO!?!

nika said...

he will be missed and remembered with a smile and a chuckle ;)

Anonymous said...

The Hornet has confirmed that there is a strip in this week's Dandy called "Celeb School", drawn by you. What i'd like to know is: is it a new, regular strip or just another one-off celeb strip like the ones which were in the comic almost every week from July to November? Another strip by you, Cuddles & Dimples, is of course coming back in reprints in this week's edition too. Looks good, a sort of mini-revamp for The Dandy as Kid Cops comes back too and there's a new strip called Noshy Monsters drawn by Wayne Thompson.