We’re very sorry to report that Tommy Donbavand, comic strip writer and award-winning author of the Scream Street series, Fangs Vampire Spy, Doctor Who: Shroud of Sorrow, Home and My Teacher Ate My Brain, has lost his long battle with cancer.
It’s news many of us had been expecting, but it makes it no more palatable to report, after Tommy himself took it on himself to write an account of his long battle with the disease with such good humour and with such style through the Tommy Vs. Cancer web site and associated books, earning him even more fans worldwide than he already had through his writing and other pursuits.
I last had contact with him back in 2017, when he was in remission, and things were looking positive enough for him to try to make contact once more with some of the publishers he’d worked with, but, sadly, his illness returned.
His friend Barry Hutchison announced Tommy’s passing on the Tommy vs. Cancer web site yesterday, with a message he’d been “dreading writing” for the past three years.
“It saddens me enormously to say that Tommy passed away in hospital this morning. My kind, funny, courageous, ridiculous friend is no longer with us,” he wrote.
“It all happened quite suddenly in the end, and there was no pain. He had been taken into hospital at the weekend, but was feeling relatively good this morning, and quite positive. He was chatting to the nurses as they took tests, made a joke about taking his blood, and then he closed his eyes and was gone soon after.
“I hope the thought of that helps you as much as it does me. Tommy’s last act on this Earth was to crack a joke. His last instinct was to put a smile on the face of a relative stranger. I don’t think there can be any more fitting a tribute to him than that.
“At the moment, I don’t have any more information to share, other than that his family are all understandably heartbroken. Once I know more, I’ll post it here, as I know that’s what Tommy would want.
“Something else he’d want me to do is to say a big thank you to everyone who has been reading his blog, offering support, good vibes, prayers, and well-wishes. He appreciated it all, and there were times in the last year or so that I think the outpouring of love and support helped carry him through the harder times. He was immensely grateful for it, and everyone who knew and loved him is, too. Thank you.”
Tommy, who lived in Lancashire, was the author of over 90 books for children, including the popular 13-book Scream Street series for 7 to 10 year olds, published by Walker Books in the UK and Candlewick Press in the US, which was adapted as an animated series for CBBC, where his credits also included writing episodes of Planet Cook. His other books include Zombie!, Wolf and Uniform, winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award, Boredom Busters and Quick Fixes For Kids’ Parties, and Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis (Network Continuum).
He was a hugely successful playwright whose work on productions such as Hey Diddle Diddle and Rumplestiltskin, and Humpty Dumpty And The Incredibly Daring Rescue Of The Alien Princess From Deep Space was performed to thousands of children on national tours to venues such as The Hackney Empire, Leeds City Varieties, and Nottingham Playhouse. On stage, he performed as the Clearlake MC in the West End musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story for over eight years, in addition to roles in the movies Zombie Love Stories (where he battled hordes of Scottish undead) and Going Off Big Time (where he was beaten up on a bouncy castle).
A veteran of pantomime, he portrayed just about every comic character from Abanazer to an Ugly Sister.
He also wrote for numerous comics, including Beano (writing episodes of “Bananaman” and “The Bash Street Kids“, and Doctor Who Adventures, the latter reflecting his huge enthusiasm for the series.
We interviewed him back in 2016 about his comics work, shortly after he was diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer, where he revealed he’d always enjoyed both Drama and English lessons at school.
“I had plans to become an actor and, as scripts were an important part of that business, I figured that teaching myself to write would be a helpful skill,” he explained. “I acted professionally for many years – both in children’s theatre and in a West End musical called Buddy. Then, when I got married and had children, I didn’t want to be away on tour all the time so I gave up acting, and took a stab at making the writing work.”
Our sympathies at this time to Tommy’s wife and sons. A writer who was determined to fight his illness to the very end, an author who once described sleep as a waste of good writing time, we are so very, very sorry that such an extraordinarily talent is now, through no choice of his own, at rest.
You can also find out more about Tommy’s work at www.tommydonbavand.com
You Can Help Tommy Support His Family
Cancer affected Tommy’s ability to work and support his family. As the cancer took hold, it prevented him engaging on school visits, the bulk of his income, and writing was not easy, as he struggled to sit at his desk for long periods of time, and was frequently laid low due to various health issues and sheer fatigue.
You can help by donating to Tommy’s JustGiving page. Every penny goes towards helping him to support his wife and two sons while he continues his battle against cancer. Thank you.
Please visit Tommy vs. Cancer to find out how you can support his family