Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist
This is him, more hirsuite than ever. 2014. Let's see what happens...

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Another Random Job

The day after Vic Reeves Big Night Out debuted on Channel 4 back in 1990, I drew this comic page of the characters created by Vic and Bob. If you saw the Big Night Out at the time, you'll most likely recognise the sort of thing they were doing.
The idea I had was to have it on the inside back page of The Face magazine or something. I sent a copy to Vic and Bob, a copy to the Producer/Director of the TV show, and a copy to the co-owner of the TV company that made the show, brand new TV star and comics fan Johnathan Ross.
Well, as is the way of these things, after a couple of months, I'd heard nothing and the TV show ended. Ah well, I thought, at least I had a go.
About two months after that, my phone rang one morning, and when I answered it, an unfamiliar voice said "Is that Nigel Parkinson? This is Bob Mortimer from the Vic Reeves Experience!" Which took me aback a little. But, feigning insouciance, I said "Oh yeah, hello". Bob went on to say he and Vic had been shown the page I'd drawn by Johnathan Ross and they all liked it so much they wanted me to work with them on their book, 'Vic Reeves Big Night In'. "Delighted" I said. And that's how I got to draw some fun stuff for Vic and Bob. Being on Channel 4 in 1990/91, nobody I knew had ever heard of them, but now it can be told.
And I'd like to thank Johnathan Ross for passing on my page, it led to a hilarious job and an eventful weekend in London.
But these are best saved for a future post!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Jim Petrie - A Beano Legend

A Minnie figurine based on Jim's distinctive drawing style.
Jim Petrie, who amongst many other things, drew the misadventures of Minnie The Minx from 1963 to 2000, died yesterday. Although he retired from comics over a decade ago he continued to paint (you may remember his vividly coloured Minnies of 1993 when he hand painted them!) nd he was persuaded to return a year or two ago as well. I never met him, but I've been looking after the character most associated with him for a couple of years now and always try to get in at least some of the energy he achieved every week! Those that did know him, like Craig Ferguson, Ian MacLaughlin (who very happily wrote Minnie for him to draw for several years) and Euan Kerr will be remembering him fondly today.

Monday, 21 July 2014

"Good night, Troy!"

The square jaw is the same, the blue eyes, black hair, raised eyebrow- fifty years ago, a new TV series was about to be unveiled- Stingray, starring Captain Troy Tempest, or as my Uncle Vernon said, "Maverick!" But it was all true, as the puppeteers had based the look of their lead character on then-hot property and star of Maverick, James Garner, who has died.
Garner was always a welcome presence on TV, his friendly private eye show, The Rockford Files in later years being a nice big hit.
I loved the Stingray strip in TV21, starting January 1965, drawn by Ron Embleton, and I even got to draw Troy myself in 1992 in several issues of Fleetway's 'Stingray' comic.
('Supermarionation'/Century 21 shows took inspiration from real people from time to time. Lady Penelope is very much Sylvia Anderson (especially the voice, of course!), Scott Tracy was based on Sean Connery, and Buddy Ebsen seemed a pretty close fit for Phones. Some people even see a likeness between the lead character in 'Secret Service' and Stanley Unwin.)

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Tidings of the Season

It's the end of July, and so obviously it's time for Christmas! Well, according to publishers, distributors and wholesalers, anyway. The Beano and Dandy annuals are with us yet again, and each have a few pages drawn by me, and coloured by Nika in her usual great way.

There's Minnie the Minx and Dennis the Menace and Gnasher in the Beano, and The Banana Bunch, Cuddles and Dimples and Greedy Pigg in the Dandy. We find out how Dennis started menacing at an early age, and see how Cuddles and Dimples finally trash their home, as they always seemed bent on - or do they?!There may be other pages by me too, but they were drawn so long ago I've forgotten if so.

The same day the annuals were published, so were this year's unexpected Summer Specials! And they were unexpected by everyone, including me and the editorial people too! But, they're here, and isn't that great!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

There have been three Beanos this week- odd business- one of them given free with a national sunday paper. Anyway, on Wednesday, Dennis The Menace is looking for Gnasher in London! And that's not all! Grab a copy and enjoy the middle part of a month-long epic yarn!
Here's the cover, without logo, etc, of next week's issue, with a cameo from London's most famous current mayor!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Sunday Choices

Well, on Sunday, you can buy a certain newspaper and find a FREE copy of The Beano- not just any old copy of The Beano, an all-new Beano! Yes, everything in it is being published for the first time. And not only that, but there's a coupon to get next week's regular Beano for half price. AND a special offer to get The Beano every week for ONE THIRD the regular price. So if you know anyone who buys The Mail On Sunday, now's your chance.

Here's the original artwork for the cover, as drawn by me and coloured in a far away land by Nika (of which, more later).

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Bea in London

Between 1998 and 2009 I drew Bea practically every week. Recently I've been drawing her again. Here's one I drew and hand-coloured a few years ago, it's set in London, and I like the Thames barge at the end.

Monday, 10 March 2014

One Of Those Days

Ever had one of those days?
You know the sort I mean! The sort of day you end up thinking would have been better spent asleep.
Today was one of those days for me.
Woken early by news of a relatives death, Bad start.
10 am I find out that due to a misunderstanding I would have to redraw something I spent the weekend drawing.
3pm castor on my drawing chair broke. Upon opening my pack of replacement castors I bought some time ago, I find they don't fit.
5pm, my drawing lamp broke. Just snapped off in my hand. Third lamp to do so.
Maybe it's time to go back to bed anyway.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Untold Secrets of the Comics Biz Part 1- Being a Cartoonist

This series will generally be about specific events, people, publications, etc, but just to begin with, I want to address a matter that rarely if ever gets any attention.

Comics, eh? Reading this, you'll most likely be in one of two categories: "Comics? Love 'em!" or "Comics? Kidstuff, probably knocked off by second rate cartoonists in the morning before they go to work, maybe before they go to school".
Of course, it is possible to hold both views. A few years ago, I was at one of the scant few Comics Conventions I've ever attended 'as a Pro', sitting behind the DC Thomson stall with a Thomson's staffer, just having a chat. We'd break off to speak to anyone who stopped by and wanted to.
At one point, a youngish (at my age it's hard to judge ages, I say youngish because he looked younger than me!) chap stops by, and leans on the table.
"So, you do The Beano and Dandy, then?"
"Aye", says my colleague.
"Yeah," proceeds The Chap, "so, I'm going to LA soon to be a top comics professional with one of the top comic book companies out there, y'know, real comic books."
"Mmh?" we nodded brightly, wondering if there would be a point forthcoming any time soon.
"So, if you like, I can do some of your pages for you, y'know, I'll fit it in, make them look more professional- this sort of thing-" he idly waves a hand toward The Dandys and Beanos on the table, "is so easy to do."
"Oh aye" says my associate.
"Yeah," continues Mr Generous "And, y'know, it's not very good, I should be able to improve it a lot"
"Oh, well that's great", says the impressively impassive DCT employee, "Speak to the editor, Morris, over there- he'll be so glad you stopped by".
"Er, yeah" says the Young Hipster "Cheers, man" and he wanders, or rather swaggers confidently off.

Now, I never heard what happened to this fellow- other than he didn't help us out one bit (apologies if he's a great Marvel Penciling hero at present but somehow I doubt it) but it wasn't the last time I came across such an attitude.

I didn't say anything to our young passer-by, probably just as well- but I've thought about what he said once or twice since then.
There's a feeling out there that 'funny' comic strips are 'easy' to do, that they somehow fall unbidden from the pen in a torrent of barely containable mediocrity, that once you've drawn episode one, the others, barely indistinguishable from the first, are basically like signing your name, but that isn't the case. Some cartoonists have had a period of what one might call 'cartoonists block', akin to writer's block, where nothing comes out (or nothing printable). The most notable example was the late Ken Reid who, as most of the "Comics? Love 'em!" crowd will know, had a long fight against a sort of depression that was entirely work related. Leo Baxendale, who anyone that has read this blog for more than six minutes will know, is a force of nature as much as a cartoonist, even had a similar though less difficult time.

Other cartoonists have had the same sort of experience, where drawing became a chore, where the effort was so great it became something to be avoided. Some have been told it was depression, and it may have been, but I feel it's more pressure. Pressure and stress. Both of which are needed to pursue a career, but which if pushed too relentlessly, can lead to depression, and on the way there, they stop you enjoying what you do. And a cartoonist has to enjoy what they do, or else why would they do it? Now, a professional cartoonist could find themselves faced with a bit of a problem if they got to that point, because, whether they enjoy it or not, they HAVE to draw- it's their job- so 'not feeling like it today' isn't an option.
It doesn't end there- once a cartoonist has drawn a good piece of work, they have to do the same thing all over again the very next week.
Of course, that's the nature of any job; you have to do it week in week out.
If you're an artist ( I mean like a sculptor or a painter) or a poet or a songwriter or some other creative type, you do a project, you put everything you have into it- then, relax and enjoy the benefits of having accomplished something. For the successful cartoonist, instead of a rest, they have to go and do it again next week.
Or rather, they have to try to not only do it again but also a bit better. That's a continual pressure, and it generally helps to push the cartoonist to work out short cuts, better ways of doing things, faster ways of achieving the same results, but at the back of the mind, "You're only as good as your last piece of work" is a constant spur to do the absolute best you can, every time.

So. although comics look easy, they are hard work. It's a fantastic, wonderful, amazing, exhilarating, funny, absorbing, perfect job, but it is an actual, real job! Far too many young cartoonists and wannabe cartoonists, drawing alone in their room for an hour or two at night, think they've cracked it, they can draw cartoons.  Nice try, but that's only the beginning. It's only the start of the beginning of the beginning. Can you draw a cartoon? Fine. Can you do another one tomorrow? And tomorrow? And every day, with luck. I don't think a single day has passed since I started in October 1980 that I haven't learned how to do something new, or better, or faster. After 30,000 pages, I still hope my next page will be better than any of the preceding ones.
Which reminds me, there's work to be done!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Way We Were

Here's a page from an issue of WHAM! in August 1965, drawn (and possibly written, if not by Walter Fearn,) by the larger than life living legend that is Leo Baxendale. It's not only the clarity of his storytelling I admire, nor the hilarity of his approach, nor the wonder of his penmanship, all of which I love, but also the attention to detail. And this particular example has a wonder from a bygone age, a child imbibing whisky! I love it! You couldn't get away with that today, and that's another reason I'm glad I grew up with WHAM! and Baxendale!