We’re very sorry to report of the passing of another great of British humour comics, cartoonist Terry Bave, who has died after a short illness, aged 87. His many credits since the 1950s included work for Wham!, Cor!, Whizzer and Chips and, later, the Beano and The Dandy.
Although he retired in 2007 he continued to draw and offer advice on creating comics, culminating in the publication of a fascinating book about his career in 2013 that includes art first drawn way back in 1947.
Fellow cartoonist Lew Stringer of the artist, perhaps best known for his work on “Sammy Shrink” for Wham! and, later, Knockout and the “two-in-one” comic Whizzer & Chips, announced his death on his Blimey! blog, following a message from Terry’s son, Russell.
“Fans of his work will also be saddened, but the best way to remember him is through the thousands of pages he drew over his long career, bringing fun and smiles to millions of children,” says Lew.
“His work was sunshine with lots of happy faces,” noted artist and comics archivist Peter Gray on his UK comics Facebook group. “Smiling cats…. just full of joy and made my childhood fun!”
Bave’s clear, unfussy humour strips were to be found in great numbers in British humour comics through the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, working, often with his wife, Shiela, on six or seven characters at any one time.
Born in Bristol in 1931, Terry began drawing at an early age, freelancing as an illustrator since the 1950s. A biography of his career on the Illustration Art Gallery by Steve Holland notes his first professionally published cartoons in the pages of the film magazine Picturegoer and the home movie magazine The Pathescope Gazette. With this success in specialist magazines, he sought out others and, by the late 1950s, was also publishing regularly in Do-It-Yourself, TV Times, Fire! and Scooter.
His comics career began fully in 1967, when he approached the editor of Wham!, Albert Cosser, for work and took over “Sammy Shrink” from its original artist, David Jenner. After languishing low in the comic’s popularity polls, Bave’s take on the pint-sized character with normal-sized parents, a modern Tom Thumb, became a huge hit, and was revived in the early 1970s for Whizzer and Chips.
Also popular was Bave’s own, “Baby Whamster”, a character that must surely have inspired other artists to create similar toddler terrors down the decades.
“Terry’s clean, pleasant style was always very popular with the readers, as were the scripts, mainly written with his wife Shiela,” Lew notes.
“Terry and Shiela came up with many new characters for the expanding IPC line of comics in the 1970s, having continued success with strips such as ‘Me and my Shadow‘, ‘Jimmy Jeckle‘ and ‘Master Hyde‘, ‘The Slimms‘, ‘Calculator Kid‘, ‘Donovan’s Dad‘, and many more.”
Terry was a mainstay of Cor! and Whizzer & Chips, and was on board from the start on another 1970’s ‘two-in-one’ comic, Shiver & Shake, which featured the spider “Webster” and, after a ghosting the strips on occasion, took over the lead characters of both sections from Mike Lacey – “Shiver” the ghost and “Shake” the elephant.
“‘Two comics-in-one’ was [editor] Bob Paynter’s idea,” Terry told Terry Hooper in an interview for Comic Bits Online in 2013. “We always, from day one, worked closely with Bob on all future projects.
“I always told young audiences that the two-comics-in-one idea was to save arguments in a two child household when the comic popped through the letter-box -often, a bright child in the audience would suggest that the “two children” could still argue over who read which part first!”
Both Shiver and Shake appeared in mostly large ‘splash’ panels of one big image in Shiver & Shake, but when the title was merged with Whoopee! in 1974, it was Bave gave both characters continued life in their own half-page strips. Here’s two examples, with thanks to one of Terry’s many fans, Robert Smith.
Terry drew “My Bruvver” for Knockout, in which poor Len was stuck each week with his tearaway younger brother, the little’un. “Sammy Shrink” was revived for the title, before transferring to Whizzer & Chips.
Perhaps one of the strangest strips he would work on was “Odd Ball” for Whizzer & Chips, about a ball that could stretch and morph into any shape, a series that survived in the weekly comic until 1990.
Beyond his work for Fleetway, in 1988 he was among many professional contributors to Cartoon Aid – a charity event in 1988, run by CITV, that asked children to design a cartoon character which would then be “brought to life” by a professional cartoonist, The profits of the book that was the result of the project – The Cartoon Aid Kidz Annual – all went to the Wad Sherifay Refugee Camp in Sudan.
Terry would continue to work for Fleetway through the 1980s, despite the sad decline in the number of titles and associated launches. Strips he worked on included “Pete’s Pop-Up Book” and, later, “Imagine” for Buster, and “Mighty Mouth” for Nipper.
As the market’s decline continued, he also found work with DC Thomson, initially ghosting a number of strips – including “Number 13” and “Bash Street Kids” for Beano and “Korky the Cat” for Dandy, before taking over “Winker Watson” in Dandy , between 1991 and 2002.
Some of his final strips for the Dundee-based publisher were “The Great Geraldoes” and the Morse parody, “Inspector Horse and Jockey” for The Beano, and “Baby Herc” for The Dandy.
“I wrote for Terry for a number of years in the 1990s, on ‘Winker Watson’ mainly, notes comics writer Daniel McGachey, “and on ‘Old Misery’ for The Beezer books. He was a lovely fellow, and always a delight to work with.”
Retiring in 2007, he later published his wonderful book about his incredible career, Cartoons and Comic Strips, which is still available on Lulu.com, a title that captures not only Terry’s amazing life story, but the rise and fall of traditional British humour comics.
“[It] comes across again and again that Terry’s primary motivation was the entertainment of children,” noted Simon Chadwick in a review of the book for the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain web site. “This was so much more than a job, and his love for creating quirky cartoons and fun-packed strips is there to see in every panel.
“In places it’s a somewhat melancholy read as Terry records the rise and fall of children’s comics in Britain, but despite the mergers and folding of titles his enthusiasm never seems to be dented as a new opportunity was always presenting itself.”
Perhaps one of the stranger stories associated with Terry’s rich life in comics was his mistaken “passing” back in 2007, when his death was erroneously reported, a mistake that the cartoonist himself apparently saw the funny side of.
Sadly, this time around, Terry’s death is not in doubt, but his incredible output and much-admired art are an wonderful legacy and he will be much missed. Our sympathies to family and friends at this time.
• The Comics Archive: Terry Bave
Bruce Laing has published some examples of his favourite Terry Bave strips in tribute to the artist
• Illustration Art Gallery Terry Bave biography
The most detailed biography of Terry online, compiled by Steve Holland