Frank Dickens, creator of Bristow cartoon – obituary

frank-dickens,-creator-of-bristow-cartoon –-obituary

Frank Dickens, the cartoonist, who has died aged 84, was the creator of the cartoon “Bristow”, which ran for 41 years within the Night Customary, was syndicated around the world, and have become, in line with The Guinness E book of World Data, the longest-running each day cartoon strip by a single creator.

Bristow, a round-faced, bowler-hatted, moustachioed shopping for clerk on the Metropolis conglomerate Chester-Perry, is the archetypal downtrodden workplace employee. Described in a single newspaper as  “the white collar employee’s Good Soldier Schweik”, the cartoon featured him doing each day battle in opposition to the frustrations of forms, chatting up the ladies within the typing pool, and dreaming of turning into a mind surgeon or a author, whereas discovering methods of avoiding any helpful work. Bristow’s epic tome Dwelling Dying within the Shopping for Division by no means finds a writer, however he’s not discouraged. He lives in a small bedsit in East Winchley and commutes to work by prepare, invariably arriving late. 

“Bristow” received a agency place within the affections of the each day commuter, however Dickens’s biggest success, in monetary phrases, got here via the syndication within the US of one other strip entitled “Albert Herbert Hawkins: The Naughtiest Boy within the World”, chronicling the misadventures of a nine-year-old pupil at Saint Mary’s Blended Infants Faculty – although it was banned from some American college libraries for advocating “defiance of grownup authority by exhibiting misbehavior for which the protagonist goes unpunished”.

Dickens claimed that he channelled his true character into Hawkins, however whereas the “Naughtiest Boy within the World” took out his rebelliousness on lecturers, policemen and different figures of authority, Dickens’s anarchic urges manifested themselves (earlier than he turned teetotal) in a weak point for the bottle, a carelessness about garments, and a behavior of regaling anybody who would pay attention with lengthy, rambling and principally unbelievable tales.

Because the Night Customary as soon as famous, “Frank’s working week is as follows: Monday: Up at 5.45am. Thinks up six ‘Bristows’. Attracts them. 9.00am faxes them to workplace. Finish of working week.” This left loads of time for visits to his favorite watering holes, with occasional raids on Soho pubs just like the Coach and Horses.

A former common recalled an event when Dickens got here in and introduced that he had purchased a fort, prompting a fellow cartoonist to launch into an imitation of certainly one of Dickens’s drunken monologues: “Oh, Miriam Karlin, I can let you know a humorous factor about her. I used to be on this volcanic island and Bernard Levin stated to me: ‘Right here, I’ve obtained this glorious Picasso and I’d such as you to have it.’ And have you learnt what I did? I took it from him and tore it in items. The issue was that we have been marooned and there was this smashing hen, and her father needed to have his leg amputated, and I used to be the one one who might do it, and he stated: ‘Look, right here’s 1,000,000 kilos. No, take it.’ It jogged my memory of the time I met the Queen Mom. No pay attention. And I stated to her …’” By this time even Dickens had had sufficient and left, saying that he had a date.

Dickens himself recalled an event when, as a visitor on the Bristow Fan Membership, he took off all his garments and danced on the desk: “Funnily sufficient, the fan membership was disbanded after that.” On one other event, returning residence late to his chaotic penthouse flat within the Barbican, he stripped off and threw his garments over the balcony. The following day they appeared neatly folded exterior his door – a porter having recognised them and returned them.

Frank William Huline Dickens was born on December 9 1931 at Hornsey, north London, the son of a painter and decorator, and was educated on the Stationers’ Firm’s Faculty. After leaving college he labored for his father, as a shopping for clerk in an engineering agency, and as a vacuum cleaner salesman, earlier than deciding to turn into “the best racing bicycle owner the world has ever recognized”.

He moved to Paris after doing his Nationwide Service, hoping to compete within the Tour de France, however didn’t qualify. Discovering himself penniless in addition to homeless, he began drawing biking cartoons: “To my shock and delight I discovered a prepared market in French magazines specialising in bicycle racing. I ultimately realised that this was not the best way to timeless fame and fortune, so I made a decision to broaden my horizons.”

Returning to England, he had his first cartoon revealed within the Sunday Specific in 1959. Then, as he recalled, “My lack of drawing capability led me to extra phrases to accompany the scribbles and this led to a comic book strip, ‘Oddbod’, within the Sunday Occasions. This in flip led to a guide of quick tales, What the Dickens, about males attempting to eliminate their wives and stated wives attempting to eliminate their husbands. From this little guide sprang ‘Bristow’.”

“Bristow” was rejected by each nationwide newspaper and first appeared in regional papers. The Night Customary determined to take it in 1962, and it went on to be syndicated worldwide – besides within the US, the place Dickens rejected solutions that his characters ought to be Americanised.

Dickens received a complete of eight awards for “Strip Cartoonist of the Yr” from the Cartoonists’ Membership of Nice Britain and was stated to have invented the machine whereby the phrases of the motion (“faucet, faucet”; “flick, flick” and so forth) seem beside the character, a way he developed as a result of he was unable to attract expression and motion properly sufficient.

 In 1964, Dickens wrote the primary of a number of kids’s books, Fly Away Peter, which was illustrated by Ralph Steadman. He produced the primary of 12 “Bristow” compilation books in 1966, and created different strips together with  “Willie Biggelow” for The Sunday Specific, “Mavis” for Lady’s Realm  and “Patto” for the Night Customary. He additionally contributed single-frame cartoons to publications together with Punch which, he recalled, “used to simply accept the cartoons after which say, ‘Will you re-draw? Folks don’t have two eyes in the identical facet of their face.’”

In 1971 a stage adaptation of “Bristow” was carried out on the ICA, and in 1999 Dickens himself tailored it as a six-part collection for BBC Radio 4, starring Michael Williams, Rodney Bewes and Dora Bryan. In 2001 he was reported to be engaged on a musical model, however was discovering his hero tough to solid. “At one time I wished Jack Lemmon for the half,” he informed an interviewer, “however then I dropped him in favour of Richard Attenborough.”

He additionally wrote two thrillers centred all over the world of cycle racing: A Curl Up and Die Day (1980)and Three Cheers for the Good Guys (1984).

In February 2012, Radio 4 broadcast a tribute to Dickens known as Holy Mackerel – It’s My Life! to mark his eightieth birthday, narrated by Bernard Cribbins.

Dickens’s marriage, to Maria del Sagrario, led to divorce after 13 years, he recalled, as a result of “when she learnt to talk English she realised she didn’t like me.” Their daughter survives him.

Frank Dickens, born December 9 1931, died July 8 2016


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