Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

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

Friday, 17 September 2010

My Favourite Editors Part 1- Alan Fennell














I've always had the good fortune to have a dream job- I mean, drawing comics all day- come on, what could be better?! But a real high spot came in 1991 when I read that Fleetway were starting a new Thunderbirds comic and that none other than Alan Fennell was to be editor! I knew he'd not only been editor and writer at TV Comic and then TV21, but had written a large percentage of the Stingray, Thunderbirds and Fireball XL5 TV shows too, and had gone on to start Look-In! Wasting no time I bluffed my way into Fleetway's then-HQ at Mornington Crescent and asked to speak to him. Alan was a great character (sadly he died early, and on his birthday in 2001) and knew what he wanted. After all, he'd discovered Mike Noble! Luckily, I did a few things for him over the next couple of years and we met up quite often. Two phone calls from him are preserved on my old cassette answerphone- the first: "Nigel- just opened your first page- what the hell are you playing at? This is like ...Popeye. I mean, I love you like a brother, but this is very poor" and the second: "Nigel- just opened your two cover images- the artwork is.......[long pause]......outstanding. Very good. Nice work". Anyone who knew Alan will hear his cheerful London manner in those words! I trawled the internet but couldn't find a photo of him- so I've posted these two, one from 1970, the other from the time I knew him, 1992.

5 comments:

Kid said...

Alan was indeed a gentleman. When I was freelancing for IPC/FLEETWAY/EGMONT in the early 90s, I spoke to him quite a few times on the 'phone - and I still have two or three letters from him from around that time.

In one of them, he was rather downcast - he had taken over the publishing of the THUNDERBIRDS comic and it only lasted about 8 issues before he had to pull the plug. Also, he was just back from Derek Meddings' funeral, and he noted the dwindling amount of familiar faces who attended.

I find it quite a poignant letter - if you'd like to see it, let me know and I'll send you a copy.

One other point of interest: In the 60s, Alan and his wife used to regularly come up to Scotland to visit friends, and while here would visit the OLYMPIA BOWLING ALLEY just along the road from where I then lived. I wondered aloud to him one day how many times he may have passed me in his car as I came back from the shops clutching the latest issue of TV CENTURY 21. He seemed almost as intrigued by the notion as I was.

I wish I still had his voice on my answering machine.

NP said...

I remember Alan's self-published Thunderbirds comic- I took out a subscription, and when the comic folded, he sent me a cheque for the balance- which I never cashed, somehow feeling it wasn't right to take that £12 from him as well.

Kid said...

The last issue wasn't widely distributed (if at all), so Alan sent me a copy for free. I sent him two or three quid to cover his expenses anyway, and he sent me a note thanking me for my donation to the "Alan Fennell Benevolent Fund".

I never knew he had passed away 'til I bought the THUNDERBIRDS CLASSIC COMIC STRIPS FROM TV21 book and saw the dedication to him. I had been sending him a Christmas card practically every year, so I hope it didn't cause stress to Mrs. Fennell.

Only 65 - far too young.

Nick Reynolds said...

I would have liked to have met Alan to tell him that TV21 shaped my future career - its style inspired me to become a graphic designer, cartoonist, scriptwriter etc. I always liked comics as a kid (the usual fare; Beano, Dandy, Topper, Whizzer & Chips etc) but TV21 was something special to have had that kind of impact on me from about age 7.

NP said...

I have to agree, Nick (how ya doin'?) TV21 was THE comic back in the 60s. I was glad to have been able to tell Alan that, though he must have heard it many many times!