Andy Capp exhibition celebrates his creator and 60 years of the Daily Mirror cartoon star

Andy Capp's first appearance. Copyright Daily Mirror
Andy Capp’s first appearance. Copyright Daily Mirror

The Daily Mirror’s Andy Capp celebrates 60 years of publication this year – and the occasion is being marked in the town his creator Reg Smythe lived and worked  with a special exhibition at the Museum of Hartlepool.

60 years of Andy Capp’ , which opens 3rd June 2017, will tell the story of Smythe, who was born in Hartlepool in 1917, his relationship with the town and the evolution of Andy Capp over its 60 year history.

Andy Capp copyright Daily Mirror
Andy Capp copyright Daily Mirror

The work-shy, working class character Andy Capp was a world-wide hit and at the time of Smyth’s death in 1998 was syndicated to 1,700 newspapers in 52 different countries and is still read by 250 million people globally.

Reginald Smyth – he added the “e” for artistic effect – was born 100 years ago in July. He only stopped drawing Andy shortly before his death from lung cancer in 1998 at the age of 80.

His niece Helene de Kleik, who has written a book on her uncle called My Dancing Bear, has been interviewed by the Mirror for a fascinating item on the  character and his creator, revealing Andy was born “in a layby on the A1” as Reg headed back to London from seeing his family.

His name was a pun on handicap from the artist’s love of racing and Andy was an overnight success.

Postbags of fan mail arrived as soon as he appeared. No one had seen a working class “hero” in a cartoon.

The strip is now the work of Roger Mahoney and written by Mirror sub-editor Sean Garnett and Mirror cartoonist Lawrence ­Goldsmith, who took the strip over from Roger Kettle in 2011 and hold Smythe in high regard.

The writers will be speaking at the Festival of Illustration ­Symposium in ­the Hartlepool art gallery on 3rd June, which is hosting a stunning exhibition of work that includes art by Gerald Scarfe, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Rachel Clowes  Jamie Smart and many others (more details here)

60 Years of Andy Capp 3rd June – 27th August 2017, the Museum of Hartlepool (aka Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience), Jackson Dock/ Maritime Avenue Hartlepool TS24 0SX Web: www.hartlepoolsmaritimeexperience.com

(With thanks to Jeremy Briggs for alerting me to this exhibition)

Andy Capp copyright Daily Mirror

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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