Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist
This is him, more hirsuite than ever. 2015. Let's see what happens...

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Don't Believe All You Read

Visitors to the Loogabarooga Festival in Leicestershire in October may be tempted there by the loud, excited local press advertising that, on Friday, trumpeted "The illustrator of the iconic Beano comic book will be one of many artists and authors to appear at Loughborough’s first children’s book festival, coined as the first festival in the country aimed solely at children's illustration." If you are one of those hoping to see a 'How to draw Dennis the Menace' workshop, be advised there will be no such event. The festival will feature the writer Steven Butler, who wrote Diary of a Menace (but did not illustrate it) and no illustrator from the Beano will be there, certainly not me.

However, further north, on July 4th and 5th myself and Beano colourist Nika will be at the Glasgow Comic Con and we'll be showing how Dennis, Minnie, and almost all The Beano's characters are drawn! We'll be giving away free stuff (FREE!!) and chatting about something or other on a panel or something. See how well prepared I am?

Glagow, 2, Loughborough, 0.

Friday, 29 May 2015

True Story. No moral.

I used to use Indian Ink a lot.

But when I started drawing with the intention of getting a job doing so, I used standard cartridge paper and pencils, biros, felt tipped pens, anything to hand. The end results were a bit on the disgraceful side.

What to do? There had to be a reason why I was producing such substandard work? I couldn't really expect to make a living out of that. In 1978 there was no easy way to find out what I was doing wrong. No internet of course, no books in the library about cartooning (more likely to find a book about swimming in the Alps), no Cartooning Clubs (whatever they were). Nobody one knew or was likely to know had any idea either. [Go to Art School? In 1977? I didn't want to be in a Punk Band, I wanted to draw!] So it was down to two things which fortunately I had and still have apparently unlimited resources of: determination and stubbornness.

I drew lots of pages, and eventually ended up with a handful that were a notch above diabolical. These were what I took with me when I engineered an actual face to face meeting with Gordon Wesley, Art Director at IPC (Fleetway) in London.

Now, here's a curious thing that may surprise the reader; back in the 1970s I had been given advice by editors and art directors at DCT, IPC, Polystyle and other publishers (add persistence to that list of my 'virtues') to concentrate on 'realistic' or 'adventure' artwork. This was the era of 2000AD and there was a push to train up new artists for that and Star Lord and all the other new boy's papers. So all but one of my samples was of 'space', 'monsters', 'action' stuff. Very detailed and painstaking too, all dot stipple effect, moody lighting and dramatic panel borders. (Think Gene Colan meets Frank Bellamy, but only if both of them forgot how to draw for some reason).

So I'm ushered in to IPC which was at King's Reach tower (recently redeveloped I see) and admire the view from the 14th floor. But what I saw in there was more significant to me- pages of original artwork by published illustrators! The first thing I noticed was of course the SIZE! These were mainly TWICE UP- that is, Four times the size of a printed comic! (I've explained before about the sizing of paper, but I recently read someone else saying "twice up surely means twice the size". It doesn't, that's once up. Up being the word to focus on). Anyway, these pages looked sensational- and they were on CARD! Actually, I found it was called board- and instead of biros, these guys used pen and brush and ink. Well those revelations were all I needed. Gordon Wesley gave me a cheque for my return rail fare (I'll reveal how much that was for at the end!) and two steel nibs, and told me to buy something called Bristol board and use any black drawing ink, like Indian ink. Ah, there's something called drawing ink! OK, now we're cooking with gas!

Back home, I set to with pen, ink and brushes, Bristol Board (or a cheap version I got from a bookshop on Bold Street which cost, like, one tenth the price and was, like, one hundredth as good), and learned how to use the 'tools of the trade'.

I did eventually get work, and later still regular work, drawing comics, and mostly light action or funny stuff, the kind of thing you see on this blog, not the action/adventure style I'd earlier been advised to pursue. And so I used pen and ink right up until 1991. Two reasons led to me abandoning the practice for good. First, in 1988 I met and started working for and then with George Nicholas, the enterprising force of nature behind Scouse Mouse. He was really fast (he did fully painted murals in 4 hours) and he'd found a way of using Magic Markers and fibre tip pens and Pigment liners and Marker paper to produce great results without having to wait for that pesky ink to dry. And, to keep up with him, I started to draw faster and faster- with my dip pen and ink bottle.

Well, by 1991 I was drawing so much, so fast, that I thriftily invested in a large 1 litre bottle of black ink. Windsor and Newton. the one with the happy spider on it. Save money, save time. Good idea?
It only took a week or so for me to find out why it was the stupidest thing I'd ever done. Used to dipping a pen or brush in a little 14ml bottle, I'd forgotten how BIG the 1 litre one was. My unconscious hand movement knocked the big, big bottle of ink over.

It splattered all over my drawing board. Well, OK, that just adds character, and if there's too much character you can wipe it off. That's not a disaster.

It splattered all over the page I was working on. Well, OK, redraw what you need to, touch up with Process White what you can, that's not a disaster.

It splattered all over the wall. Well, OK, we can get the emulsion out, that's not a disaster.

It splattered all over the carpet. Well, OK, that is bad, but maybe we can have the carpet cleaned or if all else fails put a rug over it. Bad, but that's not a disaster.

It splattered all over a big stack of old, rare, impossible to find comics from the 1960s that I used for inspiration, reference (and occasional light cribbing).


So, I switched from nibs back to pens. And soon I found other pens which suited me even better.

I've never touched Indian ink since.

If you're looking for a moral, it's probably: Don't start reading a blog post subtitled 'no moral' looking for a moral.

The fare, Liverpool to London return, May 1978, was £24. I remember being glad IPC paid it, as it was impossibly out of my reach back then.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Hooray for the Fourth of July

On the weekend of July 4th and 5th Glasgow will be hosting it's 5th Comic Con, and amongst it's many great guests will be me and Famous Beano Colourist Nika. We'll be giving away, yes GIVING AWAY great Beano stuff, and we'll be doing LIVE drawing, colouring and probably talking. Anyway, come along and see how we do in our second-ever Comic Con appearance and first ever in Scotland, in the mighty city of Glasgow.
More information at this link

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Pencil Case

This is my pencil from 1969 which I used until I couldn't use it any more. A more recent pencil of mine is in this new exhibition from Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney beginning next week in London. I can't imagine what a pencil exhibition might be like, but I guess I'll find out on Tuesday!
For more info click here

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Topical Beano

From time to time we at The Beano do a quick topical gag for Facebook or Twitter. And the sudden (though far from unexpected) departures from their respective jobs of Jeremy Clarkson and Zayn Malik on the same day surely required some comment.

The Beano heard Zayn was a bit of an artist and wanted him to 'guest edit' a Beano recently but we couldn't arrange it. Now we can guess why.

Guardian interview

I did an interview for The Guardian a few weeks ago, and here it is.
I read it but I didn't learn anything new. But you may still find something interesting. By the way, it's all about me.
Sorry about that!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The middle of a Busy Week

It's a busy week. No, I mean really busy. No, busier than that, really. There's six projects, and another six projects, and they're all needed about tomorrow. So I'm going to get drawing again. This is the sort of thing I'll be drawing:

Although I've already drawn that, so it won't be exactly like it.

But it is busy.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Nika in Sunderland

Sunderland Comic con, at the weekend; famous Beano colourist Nika does some famous Beano colouring for fans.
A great first con for this region put on by a friendly and hard working team from BHP. Look out for Nika's next appearance, in Glasgow in July, folks!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Competition Time!!

Tell all your friends! There's going to be a competition soon- free to enter- right here on this blog! And the prizes are unbelievably brilliant!! And not available anywhere else- and you will definitely want one! So, keep looking- about 3 weeks I'd say, and then you'll have all the information- see you back here!