Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist
This is him, at a recent Comic Con . . . in GREECE!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Kirby!

video
When I say that I learned a lot about comics from Steve Ditko, Frank Bellamy, Mike Noble and Jack Kirby, some people are surprised, as I don't generally draw like any of those guys. But that's missing the point- they're cartoonists and you can learn from them, and not just in terms of their work! Here's Jack Kirby back in the 1980s!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Adventure in the 21st Century

Gerry Anderson, who brought us Thunderbirds, Stingray, Fireball XL5, has died aged 83. He'd been suffering from Alzeihmers for some time. He was a tireless producer, still working on projects such as the CGI Captain Scarlet, in his 80s. Without him, of course, there would not have been TV21 and Frank Bellamy's glorious Thunderbirds pages, nor Ron Embleton's  Stingray, nor Mike Noble's Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet or Zero X. For all the great moments he gave us in the 1960s, thanks Gerry!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Coming Soon!

Just Dandy a new documentary about... well, The Dandy! Find out all about it at this link!

WHO THAT UP THERE??

Temporary change to my head, here, folks. What I mean is, I'm having the old hair short for a bit. And then long again later. or maybe I'll try something altogether new! Who knows!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Dandy! Dandy!

To The Dandy-
"The Dandy was an inspiration to me as a growing boy.
It is very sad and sign of our vanishing culture alas it seems-gone but never forgotten"
with Loveand affection and a hearty thankyou
- Dave Davies

I said I'd share some famous Dandy readers' thoughts on the demise of the printed edition, so here we are: the originator of rock guitar, Dave Davies of The Kinks, who not only name-checked Desperate Dan in song in 'Village green Preservation society' but even wrote a whole song called 'Dandy'! Thanks, Dave!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Beano Comedy Special

The internet broke the news yesterday afternoon, so it must be OK to do so too. The British Comedy Awards and the Beano have joined forces to present the 1000 or so guests with a specially drawn (by me) version of the Beano annual cover originally by Steve Bright. If you can spot all the comedians, I'll not only be amazed but impressed. Some likenesses are hard to get, especially on a very tight deadline, but anyway, look out for this special one-off on the Comedy Awards on TV this week.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Got one?

Here's the cover of the final print Dandy, nicked off  Lew Stringer's blog.
Want to get your own copy? Good luck.
D C Thomson say they've printed 50,000 copies and certainly my local WH Smith sold it's larger than usual consignment of 20 copies before 9.15 this morning. My pre-ordered copy, which the D C Thomson shop assured me would arrive this morning, has of course not been delivered. Nor has my subscription copy which the D C Thomson subscription deaprtment claim expired in April, despite me having issues delivered up to a couple of weeks ago. A certain well-known Liverpudlian has asked me for a copy as his local shops didn't sell it and I had to phone The Dandy office to get him one (oh OK, it was Paul McCartney), but still there's none for me. So enjoy your copy, and particulalry enjoy it if you've never bought the Dandy before but thought you'd grab a bit of history. You'll have to let me know what it was like one of these days. I'm guessing it's pretty good but maybe I'll never know. If, like me you haven't been able to get one, don't bother with Tesco, they stopped stocking it months ago. Cheers, Tesco.

This afternoon I went on the Billy Butler Show and gave him his due for his part in this! Have a listen from 30 minutes in!

My Blog, My Drawings.


I drew this picture.

I drew this picture.
I drew this picture. .
While everybody in the entire world (there's been coverage globally! Really!) has been posting pictures that I drew in the last few days, it seems that my position is still unclear. I have been advised by one person that I can't post pictures I have drawn that are the copyright of DC Thomson on my blog, and I have been advised by other persons that I CAN post such pictures. In the absence of a definitive aggrement, I've decided to go ahead and give myself permission to publish my work on my blog advertising their product. If anyone has a problem with it, let me know, otherwise I'll assume "that original thing" was all a big mistake in judgement (my opinion back in April) and I'll go ahead as normal. (Sorry if it's all a bit esoteric, but it's been bugging me for months, this situation.) I'm not attempting to profit personally by posting these pictures: I'm promoting an item which I don't personally sell, publish or profit from other than in the usual aggreed way. In fact, the tremendous media coverage this weekend that has almost entirely centered on Paul McCartney (and made it an international story) is down to me, as it was my idea to get him involved, I approached him, and he aggreed to do it for me.
Anyway, end of  irritated bit, here goes.
See these pictures? I drew them. They're in The Dandy today. Go and buy one, it's published by D C Thomson.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Now, about Sir Paul

Yes it was my idea to have Paul McCartney in the final print Dandy. I'd intended to have him in it a long time ago as I always remembered he once half-jokingly said his ambition was to be in The Dandy (see here), and thanks to my pal the Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn, he was persuaded that if he wanted to be in The Dandy, it was now or never! Paul immediately wrote me a nice note that I was able to pass on to The Dandy - and tomorrow you can go and buy a copy for yourself!

Sir Paul of Speke really was a big comics fan- he wrote a song about 'Magneto and the Titanium man' in the 70s, and here he is meeting comic book genius Jack Kirby in 1976.


Also, he really did enjoy The Dandy as a kid- check out that cheeky so and so on the back row here in 1952!

And even in the heyday of  The Beatles in 1965, he couldn't resist a sneaky look at some comics!

Good lad!

LATEST NEWS. Paul McCartney, being a big star all around the world, has generated a fair few international news reports about the end of one Dandy and the beginning of another. I've had a lot of views of this post from over two dozen different countries (not Greece or Kazakhstan though, bit odd!)

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Final Curtain



In a few hours, subscribers get to know all about the milestone that is the final print Dandy bumper birthday edition. I've drawn quite a few pages,here's a tiny part of one of them. (A special toffee to anyone who knows why I am presenting a page from this strip, not one of the others I've drawn.)
If you want to see more, go buy a DANDY on Wednesday- it's your last opportunity!

Blast from the Past

The week of their first Number One single, Please Please Me, in February, 1963, The Beatles, a little-known Pop/R&B combo from a backwater town in the North West of England filled in their 'Life Lines' for the NME (New Musical Express). In a few months, they would have taken over the entire world, but at this point they were still largely unknown, and their answers seem fresh and light-hearted rather than weary and cynical, as they would in 12 months time once they'd hit America and been asked the same questions a million times on four continents.

(Please Please Me WAS The Beatles' first Number One- in recent years charts have been taken from Record Retailer which had a small sample and a very low print run and placed Please Please Me at Number Two. In 1963, the charts that mattered were the NME, Melody Maker and BBC charts (for Pick of the Pops), which all placed Please Please Me at Number One). NME is still being published, MM and RR folded a while ago. the BBC is still going. At time of writing.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Olympos!

Hey, you CAN see Mount Olympus from Nika's house! Look! In all the times I've been there, I've only ever seen it at the corner of my eye- you know that thing when you try to look directly at something and can't see it, except as you glance away? Just me, eh? Oh well I was beginning to think it wasn't there, even though everyone told me you could often see it, just that today wasn't a good moment and even though I 've been there in the months of April, May, June, July, September, October, November, December and January, I never saw it. But now, here is Mount Olympus, on what looks like a nice evening last week! Nice one, Nika!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Menaces on canvas



If you fancy bidding for a fab ORIGINAL mini painted canvas of Dennis or Gnasher, by official D C Thomson artists Gordon Tait and me, in support of a very worthwhile cause, then I have some good news for you! You can do so here!
But, as you'll see, there are dozens of great little canvases you could bid for, so take a look! And if you'd like to know more about the Willow Foundation, here they are.












But don't hang about, bidding opens 22nd November and ends 2nd December! Good luck!!

Monday, 19 November 2012

DRAW!

Sometimes I get asked for advice on drawing comics. There are only two things to know:
1.Draw and 2.Draw.
Let me elaborate.
1. If you want to do anything well, to make a living out of it, to be noticed for doing it, anything like that, you have to actually do it. It seems obvious, but a lot of people seem to think they should 'save' themselves till they're 'spotted' by the great comic talent scout, and THEN they'll start drawing something great. Wrong. Get drawing right now. I mean it, go on, get some paper and get started. And when you've finished, start again. You should draw every day. Every single day, at all times, in all places. Draw, draw, draw. Cartooning looks fun and easy. It is fun, and it is easy, but only after you've put the hard work in by drawing, drawing, drawing. THEN it's fun and easy.
2. You'll need to find the tool that suits you. I struggled for 15 years with pen and brush and ink  and bristol board because that's what 'professionals' use. Wrong- it's what SOME professionals use. I found each day a bit of a struggle. In 1988 I was introduced to layout paper and marker pens. Dramatic improvement 1.  Sometime in 1995 I discovered  Pentel Sign pens, and I was immediately able to draw EXACTLY what I 'saw'. Dramatic Improvement 2. That particular pen was MY tool of the trade. Every cartoonist needs to find their own. It's my own fault I hadn't found it earlier, they've been making them since 1957.
But above all, DRAW!

History of the Dandy

32 years ago today I got my first pay cheque from D C Thomson for a two-page story I drew for a long defunct comic. It would be another eighteen months before I got my first break on The Dandy- and even then it was on a new project, 'Dandy Comic Libraries'. I drew Bully Beef and Chips, Colonel Blink, Corporal Clott, the Jocks and the Geordies, L Cars and even 'Send for Kelly' over the next few years, all for these little 64 page booklets. Here's a typical one by me- relax, the cover is by Steve Bright (in a very restrained mood!) but the insides were all by me. It would be 1985 before I got into The Dandy proper, ghosting some Bully beef and Chips. There's a great story behind the creation of one of those, let me tell ya! Then I did Spotted Dick, Dinah Mo and a couple of other things. And then there was a gap between 1990 and 1997 when I inexplicably did nothing at all for The Dandy, before I was finally invited to take on Owen Goal as an ongoing series. Since then, I've been in 670 issues of The Dandy and I'll be in the very last printed edition on December 4th as well. See you there.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Today. Just like any other day?

Today, I finished drawing my last piece of work for The Dandy. It was a rather strange feeling, having the weight of history on my shoulders, as you'll see when the comic is published in a couple of weeks. Since the news of the closure was broken to me in July, I've had a lot of comments from friends, colleagues and The Famous, and I aim to share some of them with you here soon.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Wednesday is Beano Day!

And Dandy day for a couple more weeks!
As I'm now apparently no longer allowed to show any artwork that is the copyright of DC Thomson, even drawings that I've done for them at any time over the previous 32 years, I can't promote them here except in words! So, here goes: BUY 'EM!

Monday, 12 November 2012

End of a long, long era

Soon, the final printed edition of The Dandy will be with us-and it'll be a good one! Expect to see favourites from the distant past, the recent past and all points in between- and I do mean favourites. I've drawn many Dandy strips over the years, and in this final print issue, I get to draw a few of them again, plus an old character I'd never drawn before, AND something completely unexpected- unless you've got a long memory.

I'm led to believe that D C Thomson no longer allow us to publish our own drawings which we've done for them on blogs so there will be no illustrated clues, besides, I'm still drawing some stuff, but maybe I'll write something else about the final 'hold it in your hands and turn the pages' Dandy again prior to publication.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

In France they'd build him a statue!


As I hinted at back here but no-one seems to have noticed,  I've been designing some nice models recently for a partwork magazine which is either on sale now or out soon depending where you live! Anyway, the fourth issue gives you a free model of Dennis and the dogs (right).

Making a exhibition of Dennis


There was a big merchandising exhibition last week, and look who was well-represented. These rather large boards were designed by me a few weeks ago, and they came out pretty well. Thanks to D C Thomson for permission to use these pictures.



Thursday, 18 October 2012

Today is Thursday- is it?

It's been a busy ol' time, let me tell you, so I'm not sure but I think it must be Thursday. At the weekend, I had the TV people in doing a spot of filming- a pity they chose the day of the Marathon to come and spent the last half hour of their journey here doing 3mph up my street. It eventually went off OK but of course the two hours will probably be condensed into two seconds on the night, I expect! Anyhow, that wasn't the busiest part of the last two weeks, as will become clear soon to anyone buying Beano or Dandy. I'm sworn to secrecy (in fact they don't even know that I know) so don't ask!

Friday, 5 October 2012

I was wrong!

I was wrong! I accept it. I can't say anything definite yet, but I once said something on this blog and now I find I have to contradict myself. I said something that turns out not to be true...and what are the chances of that happening?!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Good Week



Yeah, I had a good week last week. Here's Angel Village, and there's me in the town enjoying a coffee, and there's Nika back at the house catching up on the new Beano annual. Yeah, I had a good week, thanks to Nika, Stamos and their lovely home.
Back home now, not quite as sunny. Oh, well.






Sunday, 23 September 2012

Short break

Well it's that time of year again, when I take a few days leave from the blogging and the drawing and everything, and head off to the blue, blue Agean sea (see below) where it's 30 degrees and sunny. But I'll be back before you know it, never fear!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

License to print menus

Last week the Licensing Awards were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel (v. posh gaff in London) and all went off very nicely, thanks, in no small part, to this menu card, (here's the front) drawn (by me) only a few days earlier, but designed to look a bit 1980-ish!
Well. I say it all went off nicely, but guess who won the category The Beano were nominated in, namely best British licensed character(s)?

MICKEY MOUSE!

Yes, THAT Mickey Mouse, the American one!?!
Oh well, at least it wasn't the American Dennis the Menace. that would have been TOO hard to take!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My Favourite Editors Part Five

This is Ian Gray- the man of many nicknames, some of which I couldn't possibly share- and the man who really got me started in comics in a big way.
In the 1960s he'd been the mainstay of The Beano as a scriptwriter, and by the early 1980s he had come up with the idea of the Pocket Library- his intention was to fill them with reprints but he was surprised to be given the go-ahead to comission all-new material, and that was significant for me because all the regular cartoonists were busy and he needed to find some new young aspiring guys pronto. As luck would have it, I'd just been told by Bob Paynter at IPC that D C Thomson were always on the look out for good 'ghost artists' so I had sent a package of samples to The Beano which Harold Crammond told me he was passing on to Ian. So began a very happy eight years of being one of Ian's protegees! We had some hilarious boozy lunches and I was treated to hair-raising tales of Thomsons' Past, one of which revolved around the exploits 'on and off the field' of a very famous cartoonist who he told me "is a brilliant man but I wouldnae give him houseroom!" He was very helpful in steering me in the right direction, noting my strengths and weaknesses. He was transferred to The Dandy in 1989 and took me with him, but of course they had a lot of established talent there. I struggled to fit in and I felt Ian was a bit exasperated that I had the ball at my feet but "wouldnae kick it in the net!". By the time I finally cracked the weeklies after a spell away from Thomsons, in 1997, Ian had retired so sadly I never worked with him again.
The phrase 'larger than life' is often overused but it's the only way to describe Ian Gray, he was a real character, and spent his spare time with his many animals and performing bawdy comedy songs around Scotland.
Ian died five years ago this week and sadly I'd never got to thank him for all the encouragement he gave me 30 years ago. A while before he died I spoke to another D C T editor and said that I must tell Ian how grateful I was for his help, and he said "Oh, Ian knows you're grateful, it shows in how you draw- like a maniac!"

Thursday, 30 August 2012

They seem to forget






A kind person showed me this posted on a website yesterday:
"I seem to remember one Bea strip from 2002 or so where the family are watching TV, Bea is shown getting more obviously uncomfortable throughout, and in the grand finale, she does a massive poo that covers the whole room, Dennis and all. They showed the poo in graphic detail, it was all squidgy and stuff. I was really surprised they got away with that..."

Well, where to begin? I drew Bea from 1998 to 2008 and I never drew this strip 'remembered' above. There was one, cover date March 23rd 2002 which, to an inattentive person may have looked a little as described, but it wasn't in a very particular detail, and in other incidental details. I would suggest that this person has another look at that issue and tries to fathom out what is actually happening and, maybe, apologise for posting what is after all an egregious lie.




Friday, 24 August 2012

Ennis The Menace

Yes, it's ENNIS the MENACE (did you all spot what we did there?!) in this week's BEANO! She was very very hard to draw- not to give away any secrets but I struggled for about an hour trying to get her likeness. All I managed was this! Still, I always say, if you can't imagine who ELSE it could be, it's OK!

Diana - Must Read

In 1967, a DC Thomson grils' comic suddenly became essential reading! They'd scored a real coup by getting the rights to publish a TV tie-in of The Avengers (starring Diana Rigg - a tenuous link but apparently sufficient!) They then gained our eternal gratitude by getting the Spanish artists Emilio Frejo and Juan Gonzalez Alacrejoto to paint it! (Sadly, they obviously only got black and white photos as reference, so they gave Emma Peel brown hair and not Diana Rigg's usual dazzling auburn). 
Here is one mouth-watering example, reproduced from the original art board. In 2003 D C Thomson were looking into the possibility of presenting all these Avengers stories together in an anthology album. At the time it fell through, but TV tie-in anthologies are always a good idea.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Send Off

Today is the big send off to Colin Fawcett, who I, like a lot of people, am going to miss terribly. His favourite comic character says 'goodbye', courtesy of me, aping Kirby, badly.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Listening in

If you'd like to hear some idiot cartoonist called Nigel Parkinson waffling on for five minutes about what he does and doesn't know about the Dandy, click here- it's a two hour show and I'm on at the 50 minute mark. It'll be up till Wednesday 22nd August.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Colin has the Last Word, from 2008

"Thanks everyone. It's been grand!"
  -Colin Fawcett 2008



I still can't believe he's left us.

 Click here to read the round-robin blog Colin and I were part of (amongst others) and see the context of Colin's wrap up.

Dandy?

Just as the US has it's own Dennis The Menace (and so do we now, once again!), at one time it had it's own Dandy! At first glance, it doesn't look too different from the most recent UK Dandy, does it?




(Sorry if you thought this post was going to be about something else.)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Fawcett- Comics

The sweetest guy I ever knew passed away after a very short illness this week, aged only 44. On Sunday, he apologised for not feeling well enough to keep an appointment to see 'Ted' with me. On Thursday, he was dead. His name was Colin Fawcett and everybody who knew him loved him. That's no exaggeration, he was the funniest, kindest person you could ever hope to meet and I was one of the (many) lucky ones who called him My Friend.. He was a very talented cartoonist and very knowledgeable about comic books. I heard something new about Jack Kirby today and I thought "just wait till Col hears about this!" Goodnight, Col, mind how you go. Life just won't be the same without you, pal.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Menace again

Dennis is Menacing yet again, in the pages of The Beano, the comic that makes Wednesday Beano Day!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Dandy, 1938

An early issue of The Dandy from way back at the beginning of it's long run. The colours are still very bright, no doubt due to the lead and titanium in the printers ink. The quality of the paper from the 1930s is also notable, being big, thick and creamy white.

Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy

It's not every day you can watch a new Laurel and Hardy film that you've never seen before- but today is one of those days! Well, sort of- silent 'home movie' style footage of Stan and Babe from 1928!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

My Eric Sykes Story

I met Eric just the once, about 10 years ago. He was already quite elderly, and had hearing and vision problems for a long time, yet he was a very kind fellow who made sure everyone had a word with him. His word to me "Hullo, have you come to arrest me?" (I am quite tall). That was at a BFI interview Eric gave to Michael Parkinson (no relation)  which was hilarious and revealing. It was due to last 100 minutes, and was meant to be an examination of his life's work. We were at minute 95 and he was still regaling us with anecdotes about the War!
I also saw him in a play about 5 years earlier when he stole the show by entering two lines too early and saying "Have you got to my part yet?" (his hearing was very poor!)
When Spike Milligan died, it was revealed that Eric wrote some of the best Goon Shows single-handed, and that alone would mark him out as a hero for me, but his sitcom with Hattie Jaques was a Thursday night joy in the 70s, and I'm going to watch the one with Peter Sellers right now in tribute to the last of the great comedy writer/performers. Cheers, Eric!

Monday, 2 July 2012

I'll Tell You The Answer

Last week (see below) I asked for questions- and I got some! Thanks to everyone who took the time to ask, and I hope you're happy with the answers! I'll take a few supplementary questions if necessary, but then it's back to work.

OK?!

  

Andy 

Have you ever played around with them thar modern Cintiq drawing screens? Not the Wacom tablets (which I find really hard to use) but the shiny screens that rotate. Would the lure of being able to enlarge, flip, squash, stretch and fiddle with your drawings on a computery thing ever tempt you to have a dabble?  Of course you can't hang Cintiq's on a wall - I'm sure some have tried though. 

 

No,  I don't hang anything I've drawn on the wall, and I don't spend enough time worrying over what I'm drawing to want to flip, squash,stretch and fiddle with it. So shiny screens don't interest me.


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Ben Morton

Would you ever consider drawing a new front cover for The Dandy again, and also could you say hello to Harry Hill for me? 

I’ll draw anything for anyone who commissions me. The Dandy have been having runs of covers – at the moment it’s Wayne Thompson’s Bananaman. I don’t know what I would draw anyway, the Banana Bunch don’t lend themselves to a front cover. Most of the Harry Hill images weren’t intended to be on the title page, they were taken from a sort of cache of poses I drew for small spots.  I only did about five actual covers of Harry-  ‘Easter island’ was one, as was ‘Singing in the Rain’
Next time I see Harry I will convey your greetings, he’s a lovely fellow. 

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Chris B

If there was one thing you could do to change the British comic industry for the better, what would it be? 

That I could personally do? That’s asking a lot of me! I tried my best with Harry Hill, which would have worked well if it hadn’t been for one aspect we were all let down on. I’m not going to go into it but Harry, The Dandy team, DCT, the various writers and colourists and I all did our best. All I can really do is draw the best I can. I should point out that we should all be grateful to DC Thomson, they remain very committed to comics and may surprise everyone yet.

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Spencer

What was your first published comic strip?

Oh, no! Not this question! My first published strip was most likely one for the DC Thomson comic Tracy in 1981 (I drew it in 1980 but they held it back for about a year!) It was called ‘The Odd Couple’ (nothing to do with Neil Simon’s play or movie or TV series) . But it may have been a terrible strip I did for IPC’s Cor!! Annual. Anyway both were drawn in November/December 1980, but neither were in the style you’d associate with me today being sort of ‘semi-straight’ (and semi-terrible).

What comic-related projects do you have in the pipeline?

I have a few projects that may see fruition: there’s a rather interesting possibility of something with a major character I’m hoping will work out; there’s a revival of something I thought was over and done with which may take a striking new direction; I have a very long term idea in conjunction with someone else that is hopeful; and if you think all that is very vague, yes, that’s all I can tell you at the moment! But I have a nice run of Banana Bunch coming up over the summer which I predict at least I will like!

Also, historically, comics publishers have, in a way, always followed trends set by rival publishers (moving into all-strips, launching similar themed comics, Dandy Xtreme following the 'feature and gift-led' model etc). Do you think that any publisher will be bold enough to launch a weekly strip-based comic to rival DCT's Beano and Dandy? 

That’s three questions! I would really like someone to take up the challenge of The Dandy’s all-strip approach, and with printing being much cheaper than ever, I don’t see why a publisher shouldn’t.  Egmont aren’t interested in doing so (shame, because they have a wonderful cast of characters in limbo) but there’s always the possibility of outsiders taking the risk, as long as distribution, either physically or digitally, is given prime importance. I’ve made no secret I have been very disappointed in the Phoenix’s elusiveness. I admire the creators and the publishers but the comic itself it simply not available to buy, which seems a major flaw to me.
I’m not tempted myself to publish- I took a risk in 1989/90 with a very well-known international toy manufacturer and all I can say is that they made a lot of money.

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John Smith

What comics did you read growing up and what comics (if any) do you read now? 

No, I don’t read comics now, I occasionally look at one but I don’t go out of my way to do so. I had two comics ‘on order’ at two different shops; TV21 every Wednesday and Wham!, until Smash! came out (later on, Pow!) every Saturday. Luckily I cancelled one in 1969 or following all the cancellations and mergers I would eventually have had two copies every week of Valiant! But I would read absolutely anything in those days, you name it and I read it. I liked Buster, Fantastic and Terrific (and any Marvel comics that found their way into the corner shop) Beano, Dandy, Topper, Beezer (and then Sparky when that started) but I didn't see any of those every week, just every so often. And then I would read Which? Magazine, and Woman’s Own and the Daily Sketch and National Geographic and anything and everything. I think it's very important, if you're going to be a comics artist, that you take an interest in the world around you- you never know what you're going to be asked to draw next, and if you only read comics, you only regurgitate what someone else has done and not a true representation of your own view.

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1000MB

One question from me. Who is your favourite artist? 

Comics artist? The ones I first saw as a child still amaze me with their originality and style. Leo Baxendale, Frank Bellamy, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby. Their techniques were unfathomable and brilliant- true originals. Then, I grew to admire many others- Ken Reid, Davy Law, Mike Noble, Bill Titcombe, Ron Turner, Ron Embleton, Gene Colan, John Romita... but they were master craftsman, I could figure out how they did it, though they were extraordinarily good. If I have to pick just one, it’s Leo Baxendale, he always makes me laugh, every time. 
Other type of artist? I was completely taken aback by the sheer size of George Seurat’s ‘Bathers at Asnières’ in the National when I first saw it. That impressed me- I like value! One question, but you managed to get two answers! Well done.

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A and E comics

I have a couple of questions for you: 1. What do you use to draw your comic strips? 

The answer is here

2. What is your favourite comic strip that you have drawn or currently drawing? 

I always try to enjoy everything I do-  at the moment, I’m doing Banana Bunch which I also write so I can make anything happen, that’s always enjoyable! And Fred’s Bed, again, he could end up anywhere and it’s nice to get to draw something different every time. I liked doing Thunderbirds and Stingray back in 1992, that was a dream come true!

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Peter Gray

Who did you learn from...inspired by ...did you draw comics as a kid with a friend...your Dad.. etc.. 

I didn’t learn from anyone, I just always drew. I was inspired by life, by television, by radio, by magazines, by anything and everything, no-one and nothing in particular until I started to realize I liked other people’s drawings, and began to follow particular comics. Wham! was the first one. But my Grand-dad had been a stonemason and designer and I do remember him showing me how to hold a pencil and looking impressed at my drawing, but he died when I was just 3 so I was drawing well before that. My Dad wasn’t artistic but he had tremendous enthusiasm for the periodical- newspapers, magazines, everything. He would point out things like “see the date on this comic, 1962? Well, next week that will say 1963!” Mind bending! I did try to get everybody at school drawing too, somehow I thought everyone could draw, until one day it dawned on me not everyone did!

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George

I have a few questions about the 2013 Dandy annual. Are all the characters on the cover in the annual? When will you reveal the back cover? Are you drawing something else besides Desperate Dan, Cudddles and Dimples and Owen Goal? Thanks! 

I don’t know who’s in the annual aside from the strips I’ve done which includes The Banana Bunch, as I revealed back here. The editor gave me a list of names and I drew them. I may not reveal the back cover, but then again I may reveal the back cover. We’ll have to wait and see.

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Anonymous

Who is your favourite classic Beano/Dandy character? 

Probably Minnie the Minx when drawn by Leo Baxendale. His run during 1958-61 is peerless. Otherwise, I always enjoyed Corporal Clott and Bash Street Kids.

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Rossmac

If you were allowed free reign to choose any classic character from the Dandy to revive, which would it be and why? And would you try to ghost the previous artist or give it your own style?

I have pitched a few suggestions and others have been suggested to me, but none have been taken up. To be honest there aren’t that many old strips that would work today, but one that I feel has never been allowed to reach its potential is Brassneck. But if I did do an old character, it’s always preferable to see what you can do in a new version rather than trying to ghost someone else.Usually you only ghost a job if the artist will be coming back to do the strip after your stint or if it's already running. I didn't ghost Owen Goal, I reinvented it. Same with the Banana Bunch. But Bash Street Kids, I did try to mimic the Baxendale/David Sutherland look, and later the Mike Pearse look, at least to begin with
When I first did Dennis in 1999, I thought I’d done a pretty fair ghosting job of David Parkins’ style, as he would be back the next week, and I didn’t want too jarring a difference. Looking back now, it sticks out like a sore thumb! Who has drawn this and where is David Parkins?! 

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Kid

If DCT were ever to publish your unused images in one of their Beano/Dandy books as 'preliminary cover designs' and didn't pay you for the privilege, would you be a little irked, or consider it to be within their rights? 

The reason I didn’t answer this earlier is because it was intended to be a rhetorical question for a specific reader and I would hope it would never happen.

Why don't you do a 'How to Draw Cartoons' book? It would be sure to have an audience, given your connection to The Beano and The Dandy.

I don’t really know how to draw, I just do it. It’s not something I ever studied or took lessons in or have any clue as to how it works. It’s a bit like breathing – it’s just something I do. You only become aware of breathing when or if it’s problematic- and THAT’S not something nice to consider! I have been asked to do such a book but aside from figuring out how I would pretend to show how I draw- it's very haphazard!- I haven't had the time.
(Now I come to think of it, I did once do one for Dennis and Minnie, a Waverley book, but I had to invent the 'how to', and I obviously couldn't have been very busy at the time !)

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Andy Boal

If I can get away with two: 1. Why aren't you on twitter?

The world doesn’t need more tweets or twitterers. And what would I tweet about? Just attending to emails takes up far too much valuable drawing time. 
** UPDATE** One of my delightful assistants has informed me that I AM on twitter, I've just never tweeted! Well that's fine. I believe it's #NPBeanoArtist, but if it's not then I'm wrong.

2. Of all your published comics work to date, what is your favourite? 

I’ve drawn about 20,000 pages since 1980 and probably 19,500 were drawn up against a deadline (for interest, I did one page this week with a deadline of 3pm the same day- and I only found they wanted it at 11.20am), so there are a lot to consider. I can tell you the pages I absolutely didn’t enjoy drawing at all were Grange Hill in BBC Magazines’ Fast Forward between 1988 and 1994. But it was work, and nobody expects to love every minute of their work. Trying to answer the question at last, I always liked doing Owen Goal in The Dandy but I try to get something out of everything I do. I feel that if I get amused, enthralled or delighted by something I’ve drawn, chances are the readers will, too. I did enjoy creating the Harry Hill strip because it was a sort of distillation of a lot of different comic and humour styles from a lot of different eras and it seemed to work ok.


Monday, 25 June 2012

Ask Me a Question

I'm going to try something out. Today is Monday June 25th at 10pm, and on Monday July 2nd at 10pm I plan to be right here and if anyone has left a question in a message (as a comment- click below) I'll do my best to answer it. Not "how many Beano artists does it take to change a lightbulb" or "Who played the housekeeper in Macmillan and Wife", but questions you might specifically like to know the answer to from ME. I can't promise to answer EVERYTHING- come to think of it, I won't even promise to answer ANYTHING- but I'll give it a go.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Sometimes it's Hard Work

Every now and then the right image doesn't turn up on your drawing board first time. Sometimes it can take two goes to get it just so- or even, as in this case, five times!! I'd drawn the cover top left and considered it finished- but then had second thoughts and attempted a redesign with a more dramatic angle (see earlier post). For some reason, I just couldn't get it to my satisfaction and here are several versions all just a little different- I eventually got one that seemed OK, finished it and sent it off with the original coloured one seen here. Why work so hard to provide an alternative?  I suppose you could call it professionalism or being conscientious or giving my best for my employer.
The Beano of course chose the more dramatic one. Incidentally, although I sent in two completed designs they only paid me for one so I suppose technically they should have sent back the unused one, but fortunately, I'm happy for them to retain it in their archive and of course trust that they won't illegitimately sell or publish it, I certainly wouldn't expect them to send it back to me at their expense after so many years of dedicated and productive and successful work. . After all, we're all professionals.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Stand By for Action!

Five random TV 21 covers from 1965 and 1966. Every Wednesday, BANG! would go our school desks at break time as 30 crazed kids would reach for their own fresh copy and indulge in the world of 'adventure in the 21st Century'.
The 'Bullion Train' issue, below, from 1965 made such an impression on me that I attempted my own version. I remember the man next door saying to my mum when he saw it, "You should keep that to show Nigel when he's older". Well, she was sure that paper bred mice- not that mice bred in paper, but that paper actually bred mice- and so, along with 99.9% of things I drew back then, it wasn't kept. Funny old time, the 1960s, wasn't it. I do have one 'home made TV21' but it's not as good as these.  (I soon progressed to making my own comics, One of the earliest was called 'FAB!' with genuine 1966 zeitgeist!  Watch out or I may show a page or two from it one day.)







Not Plain Sailing

As jobs go, drawing comics is a real pleasure.
Sometimes it becomes slightly less of a pleasure and it's usually when celebrities are involved. Or more likely their agents. One particular famous person once made me go through no fewer than EIGHT redraws; "her calves are slightly slimmer, her hair is a slightly different colour, she looks too amusing"- this is in The Beano, remember- only to then say they 'd thought about it and preferred the first one. Here is a different page that was dropped from a recent BeanoMAX because a certain athlete's agent couldn't make his mind up regarding his clients hairstyle, face furniture, placement of logos on his kit, skin colour and dialogue. It may be clear just who's agent gave us the grief by looking at the picture above. If it's not clear, then I guess that's another reason why he wasn't happy.
(Clearly this very minor carp at vain celebrities doesn't apply to Harry Hill with whom I've always enjoyed the most cordial and warm relations).