Cartoonists' Club members discuss their influences
When I was very young I remember my grandfather showing me a cartoon which was his favourite. I vaguely remember the idea of it, but not the caption. I also remember he was a big fan of "Pop" (I think it was). I think he was a cartoon soldier. I can't be sure.
Then I remember my father collecting the daily strips featuring Colonel Pewter from the News Chronicle which Mum pasted into a scrapbook. He used to ride a bicycle up into the sky. (Colonel Pewter, not my Dad!)
My favourite cartoonist was always Larry, and the early cartoons I drew were without captions, but would have words actually in the drawing - much like his - but without the effortless, free but controlled style.
I studied Graphic Design at college, and I remember that I would often use cartoons as the solution for various projects. In fact I remember a tutor commenting on it and suggesting I had a future in it. I remember shaking my head at the idea!
My early jobs - making up simple ads in a free newspaper, and then starting work in the now defunct West Midlands County Council graphics department, gave me plenty of opportunities to incorporate cartoons into ads or Newsletters, guides etc.
One day I discovered that my 'hero', Larry, actually worked from a studio also in Birmingham, and that his real name was Terence Parkes. I wrote to him, and was thrilled to get a hand-written reply, (which I still have), and an invitation to "swap a pint". We eventually did at a pub in Corporation Street. I next saw him at the CCGB 40th Anniversary bash last year. I introduced myself and reminded him of that day in the mid 1970s, but I don't think it can have been the landmark in his life, as it was in mine, because he didn't appear to remember!
It was at about the time that I met Larry, that I started submitting cartoons to publications. The first to be published nationally were in a publication called Revue, which was similar to The Weekly News. The first gags to be published anywhere, were in the Wolverhampton Wanderers football programme. I'd sent some off and I vividly remember standing with my then girlfriend on the North Bank terrace at a night match, and catching sight of one over another guy's shoulder, in the programme he was reading. (I couldn't afford to go to a match AND buy a programme!) I remember the thrill of that moment - Wolves were a top division club then. (It WAS a long time ago!) Today, of course, the cartoonist synonymous with Wolves is our very own Tony Eagle, who prolifically illustrates the Fanzine, as well as various Wolves articles in the evening paper. I always thought he had the ultimate cartoonist signature "Eagle". What a great name, and a very funny gagsmith to boot; (or to football boot).
Warner Bros animated cartoons did it for me! When I were an early teenage lad, there were News and Cartoon theatres in London - an hour long show for one shilling and sixpence (seven and a half pence). I know it was a while ago now but they were magical
places to see the likes of Sylvester and Tweetie, Woody Woodpecker, Bugs and the rest of them. Not really into Mickey and Donald - superbly animated but just not funny! But the Warner characters were so expressive and so humorously animated (going back to the 40's can you believe) that when I started my first job as a 'gofa' in Pearl & Dean's animation studio, even the hardened established animators looked up to them for inspiration. We used to belt along to Leicester Square to see a programme in the lunch hour, well hour and a half actually - daring! The same affection for these gems has passed on to my offsprings - the 'now' generations love 'em just the same with a stack of VHS's to prove it!
I have always been drawn (gedit?) to the cartoon from the earliest years. My dad would bring back a new copy of Punch from the library each week and I would pounce on it to see the gags and especially the double pagers. My influences here would have to be Larry, Tidy, Thellwell and Hargeaves sparrows, which I was a BIG fan of.
I have told before the story of me drooling over a feature on 'How animation is made' in my pictorial encyclopedia as a very young lad. I used to pray at night that someday, when I was big and strong, I would be able to go to Hollywood and draw Bugs Bunny just like the man in the picture, and so I did! Dreams really can come true!