Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

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

Monday, 3 November 2014

the Beano

The Beano is on sale on Wednesday, and it's the continuation of the story begun in the special Trinity Mirror edition of The Beano given away free on Saturday. Tell all your friends. It's the comic worth the money.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Another Free BEANO

Today's Daily Mirror, Daily Record, Manchester Evening Post and Liverpool Echo (amongst other Trinity mirror papers) have (the same) free unique Beano today! We worked hard on it (VERY hard) and it's the start of a 3 part Dennis story, so grab your free one-off BEANO today!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Halloween Part 1

Halloween is split into two parts this year! First half is in this week's ghoulishly great BEANO (on sale now!) and the second half is in NEXT week's equally fantastic BEANO! For only the second time in her 60 year career, Minnie The Minx is the cover star, ousting that spikey haired menace, Dennis. Still, I don't mind, I draw them both. Happy Halloween!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Stories of the Past

Today's date reminds me of something.


Thirty four years ago this very day I decided to take charge of my 'career', which had been going nowhere in a rather dispiriting way for a couple of years. In summer 1979 I'd even taken a local government job, and ended up in August 1980 as head of a department! I was looking at the prospect of a long career in the County council, and even a pension. Either that or get out and do what I wanted to do.


Luckily, my department was merged with two others, and I was offered either redundancy or a three year contract. They must have thought I was crazy, taking the redundancy! It was the magnificent sum of £300 (even in 1980, that was like, nothing,) but I also got my superannuation back, and that amounted to another £300. Now, with £600, I had an idea! I arranged to go to Paris!


It was August 15th 1980, and I remember standing in the Dover Hovercraft Departure Bay reading a newspaper account of John Lennon being seen coming out of a New York recording Studio and him admitting he was working on a new LP- his first for five years. Exciting news of the 39 year old reclusive former Beatle.  My friend and I (I thought she was my friend, turned out years later she really wasn't. Enemy might be a truer description. Another story) enjoyed spending time in Paris, living in the Greek quarter, making my £600 last longer than seems feasible. You've seen The Rebel, that's basically what it was like, except I was a 6' 1", 11 stone 20 year old with lots of hair (yes, I was shorter then. Am taller now. Yet another story!)


So, it's now October 13th 1980, and I'm back home, wondering what to do, penniless and with no job. Only one answer- Get into Comics. So, I sat down with six big big sheets of Bristol board (actually 'fake' Bristol board- I was skint) and began drawing. My trip to Paris seemed to have energized me and I turned out some good stuff (relatively). On October 16th, I would bundle up three of the sheets, stuff them into a postal tube and address it to Bob Paynter at IPC, and the other three sheets to Bill Stirton at DC Thomson.
Who knew what the future might bring?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

New Comic Number One

Rumours that the British Comic Industry is moribund continue to be proven wrong as several brand new comics are due to be published over the next 30 days or so. Here's the first, FUNNY MONSTERS COMIC a splendid little thing by Joe Matthews, available in newsagents in the North West and Midlands next week. Give it a go, looks good. (Don't worry, I'm not involved, I just wanted you to know about it).


Read all about it and get a copy here at this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Funny-Monsters-Comic/713887701981304

Loopy Lee Faces 60

Lee Cornes, the actor, will be celebrating a Big Birthday next month- so let's wish him many happy returns, right away- and I'll be that even if you don't know his name, you'll have enjoyed his work at some time or other.
He's probably best known for three TV series he appeared in, Grange Hill, where he was a Chemistry teacher, in the 1990s, and as seedy psychotic Publican Dick Head in the Late great Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson's sitcom Bottom, and as Colin Watkin's boozy pal in the under-rated sitcom Colin's Sandwich, starring another Late great, Mel Smith. There's a slim chance one or two readers will recall The Wow Show, the comedy troupe who broke the rules and then shot the rules, in two radio series and many stage, TV and club appearances. They often ended a club show by liberating the audience into the street and running off into the night- end of show!
The Wow show was Lee Cornes, Steve Frost, Mark Elliot and Mark Arden, who in 2004 asked me to produce this cartoon précis of Lee's life and career!
Visit Lee's own page here: https://www.youtube.com/user/leecornes
Happy Birthday, Lee!

Self Portrait. Who's it of?

Here's me. Blue suede shows, as ever, and last year's Dennis-lite jersey. I don't really use an easel and palette but I do draw Dennis The Menace in The Beano. Any guesses what this was drawn for?

Beano Readers Of Several Generations

A few months ago, The Beano published this photo of two Beano readers, one aged 84 and one aged 4. The truth can now be told, the younger one is my Great Niece, Ella, the ever so slightly older one is my Mum, her Great Granny, who, it would seem, no longer feels embarrassment when the neighbours ask what my job is. Hurrah.

The Truth of It Is.... Miranda was Acting!

As there has been some debate over the appreciation shown by my pal Miranda over the publication of her Minnie The Minx appearance in The Beano three weeks ago, in posts on Facebook and Twitter, can I assure all that she knew it was going to be published, was greatly looking forward to it, and not only appreciated it but is proud of it, and the picture of her looking 'shocked' was a posed photo where she was acting as if she was laughing heartily. I thought it was funny and 'pretended' it was a look of surprise or shock. Anyway, to prove it was a gag, here's a picture taken just before that one, and as you can see, she's happy. Now, can we accept it as all posed?
Phew.

Colourists Part Five

As regular Blog readers will know, I have had several different people colouring for me over the years (in 2015 it will be ten whole years since my regular favourite ace colourist Nika started doing my colouring - celebratory party surely on the horizon) but I'll wager you didn't know there is an old, highly regarded Art shop in Bloomsbury, London, just yards from the British Museum, L. Cornelissens, where you can go and actually buy a colourman? It says so right above the door! So, if ever you need one, that's the place to go.

I think I've got that right.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Three Exciting New Projects in the Works

I've got three exciting new projects in the works (but you know that, if you read the title). One is a new monthly comic strip-based magazine, another is a collection of old pages of mine, but with a fair chunk of never-published stuff, and the third is so unlikely and unexpected that I still can't quite imagine how on earth I got involved.
Needless to say, all will be revealed eventually, the first of these in a couple of weeks time. No pictures yet, but soon!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Don't Bin Those Freebies!

Remember that Mail on Sunday BEANO special edition- given away free in April but containing all-new stuff? Well, more recently we've done some other one-offs- such as for Holiday Inn, who's guests were delivered a free BEANO last week with their newspapers, and Brewer's Fayre restaurants. So, to get to the point, if you've got one of these special issues (not the Mail on Sunday one), let me know- I can't get hold of a copy anywhere from anyone! I'll throw in a prize for you in return if you like! So tell everyone you know, don't throw out that free BEANO, it's a valuable item to ME at least!

https://twitter.com/NPBeanoArtist/status/508903377334730752

Monday, 1 September 2014

World Domination?


Last Wednesday's Beano featured a Minnie The Minx strip with a Make-up artist in it- but, in a never-ending effort to bring you a realistic experience, we went to the ends of the earth to find you a genuine make-up artist, not some fictional one. Luckily, we found one in NW8 so that's not too far really. this post from 2010 for a bit more info.
Yes, here's Miranda, who some of you more mature readers may recognise (as she hasn't changed a bit!) from her previous job as saxophone player in The Bodysnatchers and then The Belle Stars, over 30 years ago. (Quite how she could blow that sax aged only about 5 to judge from this photo taken yesterday is beyond me). She's been one of the top make-up artists for over twenty five years now, self-taught and very much in demand. Last week, when getting into a taxi, the driver took a look at her and said "didn't you used to be in The Belle Stars"? Well, I guess it's a Sign of the Times. See
As to the contents of that tube... if you see either of us, feel free to ask.

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 Jonathan 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 Jonathan 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 Jonathan 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!


You can read Part 2 of 'Secrets of the Comic Biz' here

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!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Diary of a Menace!!

This week's BEANO- Dennis's diary?! Find out all about it on Wednesday!!

Friday, 7 February 2014

KIRBY

Jack Kirby died twenty years ago. His colossal body of work will never be surpassed either in volume, quality or significance. I can't think of anything more to say.
http://kirbymuseum.org/biography/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kirby_bibliography


Monday, 20 January 2014

I Can't Sing; Behind the Scenes!

Back here I noted Harry Hill and Steve Brown's musical 'I Can't sing' which is currently in pre-production for a West End launch next month. Steve is not only Harry's musical director and the writer of many TV theme tunes (Not Going Out, TV Burp, Pub Landlord, etc) he's also a producer at Atlantic records AND a very funny comedian and writer (he played Glenn Ponder in Knowing me, Knowing you with Alan Partridge for instance, and sang a self-written funny song every week on Jasper Carrot's live TV show).
Well, Harry Hill you all know. Here's a comic strip where I wrote and drew both Harry and Steve into the action, from the Dandy in 2011.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Minnie

Minnie The Viking- well, it's obvious really isn't it. This month's Dennis The menace Megazine features the story- but it's only this one picture, the rest is all about Dennis (well, it's his magazine!)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Simon Hoggart, Beano fan, says Goodbye

The political columnist Simon Hoggart has died. He worked for The Guardian continually from 1968 to 2013. In 2008 He had the unmitigated pleasure of meeting me at the Cartoon Museum in London during the Press launch of the 70th birthday of The Beano, being one of several journalists I met and was interviewed by that day. He was delighted to tell me that he used to look forward to reading The Beano during the late 50s/early 60s, sitting on the bridge by his school, legs dangling over the parapet, and especially liked The Bash street Kids, who he was still able to name! He introduced me to James Naughtie of BBC radio (also a closeted Beano-ite!) and wrote a lovely article about it, mentioning me by name and recounting our converstaion in his next Guardian column. 
I'd been to a recording of his radio show, the News Quiz in 2001, where the guests included then-Spectator editor, now Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, BBC Political editor, John Sergeant, also a Beano reader, and the late Linda Smith, who was surprisingly mute offstage. Anyway, I was sorry to hear Simon Hoggart died yesterday, his dry political commentary was always very amusing.
Read his obituary here

Literally Overnight

Over on Comic Book and TV legend Mark Evanier's blog today, Joe Melchione wrote to ask…"Having read your columns and blog for the last two decades, there appears to be a frequent pattern of employers (both comic book and TV related) asking you to produce a script virtually/literally overnight. I have trouble understanding why this happens so often. . . why such unrealistic deadlines? Wouldn't the whole creative team benefit from a balanced schedule?" To which Mark replied, concisely, "Yes".
To which I would only add to Joe, you wanna try DRAWING a project overnight, and I do mean literally. Our lead times in the 80s tended to be 6-8 weeks, today due to email speeding up communications so radically, some of them are 2-3 days. Every once in a while, maybe once a month or so, it really is needed tomorrow or even TODAY! So that's just the way things are now. It favours the fast guys, of course. Signed, a fast guy.

Here's Mark's always-excellent blog: News From ME

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Lone Menace

A recent rough for production purposes which I'm pretty certain has never been seen before! Of course, it's Dennis The Menace and Gnasher posing as The Lone Ranger and Tonto, in honour of the recent movie. (As you may guess, I found a file of unseen stuff hiding in a corner of the laptop this afternoon!)

Unseen Menace

Here's a page from an unpublished Dennis The Menace (I think- let me know if it WAS printed!) which I was quite pleased with when I did it back in 2012. Colours by the Colourist Of The Year, Nika, of course.

New Old Project

Here's a little glimpse of a project I've been working on intermittently since... er, 1985! Here I am with my friend, Trish, onstage on December 26th 1986, during a live show which was filmed and is part of this scheme. As soon as I get half an hour or so I will press on with it and hope to get it finished for the 30th anniversary in 2015!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Meeting Our Public

Occasionally the publishers loosen our drawing board manacles and allow us to be seen in public- not in daylight though, as you can see in this official D C Thomson photo of me leaning in to disguise my loominess with a family of Beano fans on July 24th 2013, at the Beano exhibition at London's fashionable South Bank. That same night, we were treated to free champagne and canapés and a taste of a colossal Beano birthday cake, photo and further information available at this link here. Anyway, a few Beano readers got to meet cartoonists like me, Paul Palmer, Gary Northfield, Laura Howell, Alexander Matthews and Wilbur Dawburn as well as a host of actual D C Thomson staff, all out of the office for once.

Back!!!

Sometimes you get to draw an old friend- I'm glad to say that mini-est of Menaces is back next week with a brand new mini-strip in The Beano! I drew Bea from 1998 until 2009, 11 years in which Bea aged about six months!