Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

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

Friday, 27 December 2013

I Can't Sing! Harry and Steve go public!

My pals Harry Hill and Steve Brown have their first West End musical opening soon- a guaranteed hilarious take on the whole Simon Cowell talent show phenomenon! It's called "I Can't Sing!" , Harry did the concept and jokes and Steve the music (which is excellent by the way) and previews in February and March are available now. Tell 'em I sent you!
In a Dandy comic in 2012 I wrote and drew a comic strip where Harry and Steve collaborated on music. I must have had a premonition!

Friday, 13 December 2013

It's Minnie's Birthday

This week's Beano is a special issue- it's cover star ISN'T Dennis the Menace for once- it's Minnie! It's now 60 years since Leo Baxendale's female amazon made her full-time debut in The Beano. Having been drawn over the years by, following Baxendale, Tom Paterson, Ken Harrison and mainly Jim Petrie, Minnie is now drawn by me! So here's my birthday picture of the gal herself, for once, not actually minxing!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stan G, He Knows Colour

Last week, my favourite American Comic Colourist had a bad accident and now lies in hospital with his injured wife. His name is Stan Goldberg. Since around 1970 he's been THE Archie cartoonist, drawing thousands of pages, but before that, it was he who decided that Thor should have blond hair and a blue tunic- that Spiderman should be blue and red- that the Hulk should be green! An outstanding colourist, and to this day I refer to his ideas. Get well soon, Stan!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Kirby and JFK

In 1964 TIME magazine wanted a new angle on the JFK assassination and approached the legend that was Jack Kirby to find it. He took the story of the man who assassinated the assassin, his near-namesake Jack Ruby, and provided words and pictures in this dramatic recounting of those few days in November. Apparently Kirby coloured these pages himself too.

In common with most people alive on November 22nd 1963, the killing of an American President had a profound effect on Jack Kirby, who as well as being the illustrator was usually co-plotter or even sometimes sole writer of his comics. The story he was working on for Marvel at the time, a Fantastic Four v Hulk rematch, took on a new intensity; there was a fallen hero, a lot of confusion and uncertainty, newsmen reporting on the events for TV, and most importantly, a sense of drama and dread that was so palpable that, for the first time, Kirby made the story continue into the next issue, something that the increasingly mature readership liked, and which would become the norm in the future. All these elements were taken directly from real-life: The events of the weekend of November 22-24 1963 unfolded on TV for the first time, and seemed to stretch on beyond endurance, no resolution was found at the end, just more drama and uncertainty. Kirby put that into Fantastic Four and found a new approach.

The influence of the assassination was undimmed in spring 1965, 18 months later, when Alan Fennell and Mike Noble made a much more direct reference to it in a Fireball XL5 story in TV Century 21 which I, and many others, were very taken with.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

It Was 50 Years Ago... WHAT Was? EVERYTHING!!

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of no fewer than three historic events. What a weekend that was- and I'm just old enough to remember them all.

Friday 22nd November 1963

1.  The Beatles " I Want to Hold Your Hand"  single and LP "With the Beatles" released. Historic because those records formed the main part of 'The British Invasion' that changed the way records were made for good, and brought America up to date. I remember hearing the single and finding it sophisticated and glamourous beyond words! And I couldn't figure out how it was made- it no longer sounded like just four guys, it was magically much more than that now. Of course, years later I discovered the reason; it was the first record they made on 4 track tape, so there were more overdubs and tweaking of the sound than before. And the LP, what a great album- probably the first time an LP had been made which wasn't just a collection of hit singles with a few dashed off sub-standard songs thrown in, and that moody cover, not a smile in sight. The future had arrived!

2.  However, that evening the mood changed. Sometime between 7 and 7.30, as the family were watching 'Harry Worth' on BBC tv, the screen went dark and the words 'News bulletin' came on. We held our breath as the announcer told us that president Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas. I still remember the look of shock on my dad and my uncles' faces- and then the BBC went back to Harry! Of course the mood was somewhat darker and soon after, we put the radio on to hear more. That day is very vivid even now. Of course, over the weekend the news stayed dark and dramatic and over the intervening years a mystique has grown around the young president (same age as my dad) and the assassination and how American politics went on from that day- increased involvement in Viet Nam, Nixon ordering troops to kill American teenagers on the street and on the campuses, Watergate... nothing was too bad to consider any more.

So that day was pretty significant. It was really the shuddering sound of the Post War era dramatically entering The Sixties.

And then there was
Saturday 23rd November 1963
Now this was something I'd been excited about for a few weeks! Me and my dad usually watched saturday tea-time TV together and he'd brought to my attention this brand-new series called Doctor Who that was debuting this evening. Despite the previous days drama, we were both in the mood for some daft sci-fi show. Well, we were disappointed! This was no daft sci-fi show- this was something GREAT! In fact there was hardly any story! But the promise! The strange girl and her strange Grandfather... and then... where on earth would it go on to from here? We were hooked. In a few weeks, when that Dalek first uttered it's first 'Exterminate', there would be no going back. Again, the future was here! We were In The Sixties!!

So, what a weekend!
Hope this weekend is good, and, hopefully, NOWHERE NEAR as EVENTFUL!!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Not Before Time!

Dudley D Watkins, cartoonist of Desperate Dan and Lord Snooty fame, is being honoured with a plaque in his birthplace, Manchester. Or where he grew up, Nottingham. Or where he worked, lived and died- Dundee. Probably Dundee. What took them so long?!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Nika's back!

Hip-hip hooray! Nika is back at work in the old place for the first time in seven and a half years! Here she is this evening working on a Christmas Dennis the Menace story!

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Return of the Enigmatic Eleven

Back! Two popular Dandy stories, "The ****** *****" and "******* and ******" have just left my drawing board, destined for... ah, who knows what, where, and when. More news as it happens!


I'm aware some people are waiting to read my fascinating insights into the comics world, and I am working on it. Unfortunately, circumstances are proving a little tricky, but I'm sure all will be resolved before long. Anyhow you'll read all about it here!

In the meantime, here's a photo of a Dennis figure that I helped design from a few years back, to cheer everyone up!

The Avengers, Diana.

Another great page from D C Thomson's 'Diana' comic, specifically issue 222 in May 1967, drawn by Emilio Frejo, and most likely Juan Gonzalez Alacrejo. Beautiful work. Time we had this short run published in book form, surely?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Be Seeing You...

You'll never guess who's back in a little over three weeks... go on, have a guess...

Friday, 20 September 2013

Alternate Universe

This week's Beano has a shiny Robot cover- but that was only one of the options. Here's an over-the-top colour version I did for fun, but offered The Beano anyway just in case they liked it, but of course, it wasn't very Beano-like! I had in mind those 1960-63 Monster comics by Jack Kirby! Who, interestingly, I discovered this week, has another famous fan!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Bid for a Beano

Your chance to own an actual painting by The Beano Artists themselves! And all  for a good cause!!

Hold Everything!

I've just been informed that I can no longer make the announcement on August 27th. Sorry about that, but it's out of my hands. As soon as it becomes possible to mention it, I will, factors permitting. But I am looking forward to it very much, and let's hope it won't be long delayed.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Starting soon!

I've been a bit nonplussed at the strangely hostile reaction to fact and revelation about comics by 'comics fans' on the internet. Not all, by any means. But a few seem to be under the impression that their supposition about a comic strip that, for the sake of argument, let's say I draw, carries more weight than anything I might say about it. In this topsy turvey world of 2013, opinion and speculation is worth the same as documentation and information.
Well, as some corners of comicdom clearly have a very unsure grasp on how, why, where and when comics are made, I thought I'd share a few valuable insights into what goes on, what went on, and what will go on. All for free. Ready? OK, let's go!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Today started with Channel 5 turning up...

First thing this morning, Channel 5 turned up and set up a huge hot arc light and asked me to 'just act natural' while taping me for their feature on the 75th anniversary of The Beano. Channel 5's Ruth Liptrot went over to the Beanotown exhibition at Southbank, London at the same time, while I made her into a Beano character.
 So that's what I did today.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Looking For Leeds

Been a busy week!

On Wednesday, that Beano cake couldn't eat itself you know; on Thursday, secret, and then on both Friday and Saturday Ruth and I wowed the many Dennis The Menace fans of Yorkshire with our many appearances at the CBBC Big Event with our demonstrations of how to draw Dennis, Gnasher and their chums- the most popular of who, by far, is Pie-Face. By FAR.

So here I am in the middle of drawing Pie Face on Friday (it was hot in that tent!) and amusing he vast crowd with my hilarious and witty banter.

"Anyone here from Leeds?"

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Wednesday Was Beano Day

Last Wednesday was a big Beano day - the Beano's 75th anniversary was celebrated by some of publisher DC Thomson's finest sipping champagne and gorging on tempting foods - and also some of us freelancers- here you can see me, with Mark, Beano designer, and Gary Northfield and Laura Howell, famed cartoonists, clearly trapped in a cage of some sort and held for future deadline insurance.
And then I was trundled out to meet and greet some Beano fans too and sign stuff as if I was someone who should be signing autographs. I met a lot of nice people, like John, Gary, Claire, Elaine and Mike from The Beano (I already knew Craig, Craig, Iain and Gordon well), the lovely Claire, top designer from Doc Marten's boots, and the titanic twosome, fellow cartoonists Wilbur Dawburn and Alexander Matthews, and Paul Palmer and Kev F Sutherland, who I already knew, top blokes all. I'm sure I've missed out about a dozen people who I met, but I've just done what felt like a Tour Of Britain drawing Dennis The Menace and there are this week's deadlines to meet too and now a TV appearance to have a haircut for so goodnight for now.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Drawing Dennis The Fast Way

Want to see how a Dennis The Menace page is drawn? No sooner asked than answered:
Last week I was very artistically filmed by Glen Milner, documentary filmmaker, drawing a new page. See it HERE

I don't actually do a page in 1.40... a little artistic licence here...

Sunday, 21 July 2013

This is the week!

The week of the 75th anniversary of The Beano comic.

This Wednesday's star-studded special issue is extra big and extra fun, with lots of surprises.
And, the same day, comes the first issue of the new Dennis The Menace and Gnasher Megazine!
As you may guess, I've drawn a few pages for both, but you should have a look at them anyway.

And, looking at this official 75th emblem (left), I suddenly realized the other day that, yes, I drew that, too.

On Friday and Saturday I'll be in Leeds at the CBBC event, showing how Dennis The Menace is drawn. I'd better find out.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Blink and it's the Count

Now that Count Arthur Strong is on TV, of course he's going to be more famous and we early adopters are going to have to get used to everyone knowing who we're talking about. But allow me to put one bit of lazy journalism to rest here and now. Count Arthur is not based on Harry Worth indeed, he's nothing like him! But there is one 1960s character that provided the germ of an idea which led to the Count: 

According to the man behind the Count, Steve Delaney, "...people often ask me what Arthur is based on, then they say "It's Harry Worth isn't it? Which it isn't! But one of the influences behind it from when I was a kid is, and memories of it still make me laugh today, ' Colonel Blink - The Short Sighted Gink', from the Beezer. I remember he lived with his auntie and often mistook her for a lamp post. Ah! Happy days."

And if you remember Colonel Blink, you'll see exactly what he means! Arf! Arf! So now you know!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Advice From The Big Guy

It was just this morning, in London! I only wanted a brief word- he is Neal Adams, after all, yes, Neal Adams of Batman, X Men, Deadman fame- but we ended up having quite a chat about certain topics- (if you know Neal Adams, you'll probably know what that means)- and he capped his advice with the words "Tell them Neal Adams says so!" Which is what I will definitely do when the time is right! Thanks Neal!

(PS. I said to him "promise me you won't stop drawing?" To which he replied "I'm not going to." So That's OK!)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Countdown to the Count on BBC2

Well it's finally here! On BBC2 on Monday night at 8.30pm! COUNT ARTHUR STRONG! Here's a quick snap I took after the recording of one of these shows at Pinewood back in February. Under the monitor in the blue sweatshirt is Graham Linehan the director, and next to him in the trilby hat, Count Arthur himself.
Now Count Arthur Strong is a very funny act, but be warned, when he first started on BBC Radio in 2005, not everyone 'got' it. His show was pretty much loved or loathed, and the loathers were in the majority, about 70/30. Since then, a great many 'loathers' have suddenly found themselves to be 'lovers' and the numbers are now about 80/20 in his favour.
You can't please everyone, and fortunately, Count Arthur doesn't try! But anyone finding themselves shouting "What a load of rubbish!" at the TV this Monday may well find they won't want to miss an episode later on. Count Arthur is like that. I've introduced a lot of people to The Count, and they've thanked me for it! I even defended him on air against one of those 'loathers' back on BBC 7 days.
So, bring it on, Count Arthur, I can take it!

More Menacing On the Way

How much Dennis The Menace can you take?? Not only is he in The Beano weekly, he has his own "megazine" from this month, and now, he's back on CBBC next week! And The Beano is 75 years old at the end of the month! Phew!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Bash Street Ghost

I've done a fair few ghosting jobs, this one, from 1999, is a nice attempt at doing a Bash Street Kids in the manner in which we have all become accustomed to seeing them, one of the few these past 50 years not drawn by David Sutherland. I always enjoyed doing The Bash Street Kids.

One More Menace!

The recent superhero stories in The Beano remind me that back in 1984, in the days when I might buy a copy every few months to check what was going on as I submitted my seemingly endless requests for work (didn't happen for over 12 years!) Dennis the Menace and Gnasher came face to face with the only person that worried them- Dennis's cousin, Denice The Menace! Drawn by David Sutherland and written I believe by George Cobb.

Ghostly Goings On

Here's something of a novelty- a Lord Snooty page from the March 10th 1956 issue of The Beano, not by it's regular artist, Dudley D Watkins, but by a ghost artist- and in this case, the ghoster is none other than Leo Baxendale! Not content with drawing three or four other pages a week, Baxendale also accepted these extra pieces of work. His distinctive style can be seen in the hands and faces, and also in some of the details. A good ghost job, but Baxendale didn't have the luxury of the time to craft an exact duplicate of Watkins' style, so his own hand is fairly clear. More ghost jobs soon.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Famous Beano readers No.1

This 1966 LP by John Myall's Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton has often been referred to as 'The Beano Album' because of Clapton's reading matter. A few years ago, a rather nice item, a Gibson guitar with that particular May 1966 Beano reproduced on it, was made. Other similar guitars have been made too.

I remember in the 1960s many University students were spotted with a Beano- at the time I thought they were just finally getting onboard with the right periodicals- but it seems they were Blues fans paying homage to Clapton. In 1968, a student on University Challenge famously said "...reading The Beano" during the opening section when they were supposed to state the subject they were reading.

Clapton, by the time the LP was out, had left The Bluesbreakers and started a new group, Cream, who, as far as I know, never read The Beano.


More Beano

Another two examples from The Beano of the past.
Right, November 14th 1957, and Dennis The Menace is on the cover! At the moment, only one picture up in the top left hand corner, but it was a start!
Dudley D Watkins' drawing is at a majestic peak with this Biffo The Bear; he drew very loosely in pencil and then did the detail in pen and ink. His understanding of anatomy is very striking here, with his rendering of the dog, Bimbo.

March 23rd 1957, and the Bash Street Kids have arrived. This page by Leo Baxendale is typical of his 1955/6 style, which would soon change to the classic look that has been imitated ever since.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

74 Years 11 months this weekend

Which can only mean that in one months time, The Beano will be celebrating it's 75th birthday with a bang. There'll be a fab anniversary edition and more stuff and what have you, and I'm celebrating the event in a way too, by showing a few memorable pages from Beanos past.
Left is a Beano from the early 1960s with a classic fluid page from the master himself, Dudley D Watkins, with an altogether illogical story, but never mind, nice bit of work.

And below left is a mid-50s Dennis The Menace. That name sends chills down the spine of any self-respecting non-Menace, and in this instance, Davey Law shows exactly why!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Week, prepare for mockery.

Tonight's 'Mock The week' on BBC2 might just be worth a look.
Just sayin'.
Might NOT be.
EDIT: Was! he he! The Mockers, MOCKED! Bliss!

(PS if you're wondering about Chris Addison's comment about The Beano, all is revealed:
"Yikes! Disaster averted with last minute re-subscription to Phoenix comic. There would be blood. Well, sulks."

Dennis The Menace FINALLY!

At long last, Dennis The Menace (from The Beano) gets his very own regular monthly comic. It's modern, unexpected, exciting and NEW! It's on sale July 24th, I would guess from about 6.45am depending on your local merchant. So go try it. I think it's pretty good.



July 8th BBC2

Count Arthur Strong!
And there's an article about it all in The Times today, too.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Kirby Dissed

It's a tribute to Jack Kirby, which I like, but the cover.... Kirby would have HATED it. It's everything Kirby was NOT. It's static, it's generic, it's bombastic, it's stagey, it's melodramatic. It brings to mind a cover for a DC comics 100pager back in the 70s that the late Carmine Infantino, art director there, and life-long pal of Jacks, proudly showed Kirby one day. It had all the DC heroes standing as if on Glee, all looking alike, all shoulder to shoulder, like in a pagent. Kirby hated it, to Infantino's surprise. "You've got all those powerful heroes standing there, and they're not DOING anything!"
And here is John Morrow, who I greatly appreciate, he's kept the Kirby flame going with his marvellous magazines for many years. But this cover is so wrong in so many ways. I'm no Kirby, but I can't stand it either. Kirby was about power, action, drama, movement, story and character. This cover has none of that.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Terry Deary and Paul Gravett (and Eddie Mair)- Bad Show. (But at least Gary Northfield got a Nice Mention!)

I don't normally respond to uninformed opinion, but I think I will this time.

Listening to Paul Gravett  a 'comics expert' (sic) and Terry Deary ('author' of Horrible Histories, a childrens' book) pontificating about the 'Royal Visit' issue of The Beano on Radio 4 this evening, I was struck by how little they know about The Beano of today.
Mr Gravett, whose understanding of comics stopped in about 1988, proudly informed the listening public that 'Beano scripts are written inhouse by staff' while Mr Deary scoffed 'shouldn't be written by cartoonists'. Now, it would have been nice if someone, anyone, on the BBC's PM programme who knew anything about the subject had been on too. They were complaining that The Beano is stuck in the past and needs to do something new and modern. This is after them reading one issue, this week's, which is, I'm sure you'll appreciate, not a regular issue- it was done to coincide with a Royal Visit and needed to be a bit different, even a bit 'safe'- there is a protocol, etc, etc, come on, it's just one week. We routinely parodied, trashed and mocked famous people every week in The Dandy, but sometimes you've got to be nice to them.

So, to Mr Gravett, no, a lot of the scripts are not written inhouse anymore, many of them are now written by outside writers, such as Dennis The Menace and Gnasher which is more often than not written nowadays by Nigel Auchterlounie, and I bet if Mr Deary or Mr Gravett read one of his stories they'd most likely find it was 'something new and modern'.

Mr Deary seemed obsessed with corporal punishment, which was banished from the Beano about 30 years ago. Mr Gravett was keen to talk about the revolution in The Beano of 60 years ago. Yes, but have you tried seeing what a current issue is like (Royal issue aside)? of course not. Mr Gravett was pleased to promote the excellent Gary Northfield as an example of what The Beano could be doing (er- should you tell him or should I?) and suggest we all dash to our nearest Waitrose (I'll book the train ticket now, Paul) to pick up the comic HE proudly reads, The Phoenix. Nice plug. By the way if they DID sell it in any Waitrose I've ever been in, I would buy it. They don't. But do buy Gary's book, The Terrible tales of The Teenytinysaurs, though, it's brilliant, as usual.

Paul Gravett, a comics 'expert' (sic) remember, was on TV last year bemoaning The Dandy's demise and blaming it on the fact that it was 'stuck in the past'. If he'd picked up a 2010-12 copy, he wouldn't be smugly parading outdated nonsense like that. The Dandy of that era was nothing if not modern. Many criticized it for being TOO modern, for breaking too many links with the past.

Terry Deary, changing the subject to his own books, chortled snidely about books written by writers (er, I get it, I think) being better than anything by 'cartoonists'. Fine. I wonder how well your books would have sold originally without the allure of the 'cartoons' by Martin Brown, Mike Phillips and Phillip Reeve? Your publisher put them on the cover, after all. Don't be so shy next time, Terry, get them to ditch the 'cartoons' and just print your rather slender little volumes in all text. I just bet they'd be a real success.

Anyway, all publicity is good publicity, so thanks, guys, for the publicity!

You can enjoy the show here for the next 6 days (the bit I'm moaning about starts about 51 minutes in).

What a Menace

Here we see Dennis the Menace living up to his name yesterday when a certain Royal Visit went off without a hitch at the new Beano printing works. Craig, Beano editor, and Ellis, DCT bigwig, meet the Royals, and THEN, so does DENNIS... oo-er- what could possibly go wrong?!
(I like your attitude, Claire!)