Friday, 14 April 2017

PARCELS IN THE POST...


Copyright REBELLION

One big highlight of my career as a comics contributor was lettering the art of comics legend TERRY BAVE.  I lettered quite a few of his strips, but it was a particular thrill one day when I was given a SAMMY SHRINK page of Terry's to letter, as I'd enjoyed the strip in WHAM! in the '60s.  DAVE JENNER had been the original artist, but Terry took over, ghosting Jenner's style remarkably effectively until he was allowed to gradually introduce his own artistic look.  (Sammy went on to feature in KNOCKOUT, and then WHIZZER & CHIPS.)

Quite a few years ago, I was able to supply Terry with a copy of the Wham! issue in which his very first Sammy strip appeared.  He kindly sent me some autographed comics he'd worked on as a thank you, each and every one of which I still retain to this day.  He even graciously supplied art and articles to The Illustrated COMIC JOURNAL when I was the depute editor of the magazine for a while in the '90s.  I've got huge respect for Terry, both as a cartoonist and the gentleman he is.
  
I hadn't heard from him in a while, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I got a 'phone call from Terry out of the blue a couple of weeks or so back.  We talked about the old days, and have chatted another couple of times since.  I was also delighted today when a pair of cardboard tubes arrived from Terry, containing several comics as well as a page of Sammy Shrink art, all personally autographed by his good self.  (His wife Shiela kindly signed the Sammy artwork as well.)  That's a scan of the published page at the top of this post.

I was surprised to see Terry's name was removed from the middle picture of the central tier, as I thought that editors at IPC/FLEETWAY had abandoned the practice of deleting artists' signatures by this time.  (It remains on the original art.) I'm bowled over by Terry's generosity, because among the treasures he sent to me are MONSTER FUN #1 (with BADTIME BEDTIME STORYBOOK), COR!! #1, and KNOCKOUT #1, along with a few other first issues.  No, none of them will be going on ebay, 'cos I'm keeping them forever.  After all, our man Terry's one of comics' finest.

There are some good (and even great) cartoonists working in today's comics, but unfortunately, there are also far too many mediocre ones, who've reduced comics to the level of stick drawings on cave walls.  However, although he has a seemingly simple art style, Terry is a superlative storyteller and consummate cartoonist, and it's just a shame that he no longer draws for comics today.  He deserves his retirement sure enough, but comics would certainly benefit from his artistic talents.

So here's to Terry - one of nature's finest gentlemen.  U.K. comics would've been so much the poorer for his absence, as they'd also have been without his devoted wife Shiela helping him over the decades.  A few years ago, Terry wrote about his career in British weekly comics, and if you don't have a copy of his fascinating volume, you should add one to your collection as soon as you possibly can. (Available now at this link.)

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