We’re sorry to report the passing of British cartoonist Andrew Christine, co-creator of the newspaper comic strips Beau Peep and A Man Called Horace with writer Roger Kettle. He had been ill for some time.
Over a long career that included work for both DC Thomson and IPC, he also drew strips such as “Dopey Joe” and “Top of the Flops” for The Topper, “Tom Thumbscrew” in Monster Fun and “Wonder Wellies” in Cracker (1975-76), and also drew the “Benny Hill” page for Look-In.
Andrew started at DC Thomson in 1965, after being turned down for art school because he didn’t have a Higher English to match his Higher Art qualifications, and was a letterer/illustrator in the art department, as well as producing cartoons and artwork for The Topper letters page. As noted on Beau Peep web site, it was here that he first crossed paths with Roger Kettle.
“As a new member of The Topper staff, I was given the readers’ page to look after,” Roger recalls, “and Andrew did the layout and illustrated it.”
Roger and Andrew cut their cartooning teeth together at DC Thomson in the 1970s. While Andrew was drawing for The Topper (then selling some 300,000 copies a week), Roger intended to be a journalist but was instead asked to script some of the company’s comics, including “Beryl the Peril”.
They went freelance in 1975 and concluded that the best way to generate some regular income was to get into the comic strip market.
A 1990 feature in the Scottish Herald notes there then followed almost two years of rejection, hard times, hard work, perseverance, and much discussion, over games of pool, as to whether they would ever make the breakthrough. Then came Beau Peep, which quickly established an audience in the Daily Star where it first appeared, followed by A Man Called Horace.
Very loosely based on the French Foreign Legion and originally created as a parody of the adventure novel Beau Geste by P. C. Wren, Beau Peep chronicles the misadventures of Bert ‘Beau’ Peep, a cowardly British man in the French Foreign Legion to escape his terrifying wife, Doris, his fellow Legionnaires, and a host of supporting characters.
The strip first appeared in The Daily Star on 2nd November 1978, and continued until 2016. Roger Kettle announced the sad news the Daily Sta had made dropped its longest-running comic strip, reported here by downthetubes at the time. The strip lives on through its official web site at cameldung.co.uk.
Recognising the success Christine and Kettle’s work for their rival, the pair were commissioned for the western comedy strip A Man Called Horace, which ran in the Daily Mirror and Daily Record from 1989 until August 2015, when the strip was cancelled to the dismay of fans.
Writing on the official Horace Facebook page, Roger Kettle described the cancellation of the strip as the “End of an Era” – and the paper’s decision, prompted anger from the strip’s fans on Twitter, (there was even a growing #bringbackhorace campaign Facebook and the official Horace forum, which, sadly, failed to save the strip).
Paying tribute to Andrew, Rob Baker, keep of the Beau Peep Tribute Site, noted on Twitter that “Andrew was a fantastically talented artist,” sentiments echoed in comments responding to a post from the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain. noting him as “a great newspaper cartoonist.”
Fellow cartoonist Steve Bright noted on the Beau Peep forum that, sadly, that the cartoon world has lost too many giants of late, in this past year alone.
“I can’t say I knew Andrew, having only met him a couple of times several decades ago,” he commented, his message sympathising with Roger Kettle at the loss. “But of course, like everyone here, I knew his artwork extremely well, and have long loved the work you both did together, not only on Beau Peep and Horace, but those truly splendid works you did for that gentlemen’s magazine that graced the bar in Dundee [Foreigners]… which arguably gave Andrew even more scope to demonstrate his full range than even Beau and Horace did. Masterpieces, all!
“We here have all lost a friend we never actually knew in person, but who, in tandem with you, was a daily visitor to our lives for many years, and a visit that always guaranteed a smile.
“… Andrew was truly remarkable in so many ways, not least in the consistency and quality of your work together, which never failed in its aim. That’s very rare, but very evident in every strip you both created. It worked, as well, if not better than any other cartoon strips any of us have known.”
Our sympathies to Andrew’s family, Roger Kettle and Andrew’s many friends and fans at this time.
Comics Work included
• Blubba and the Bear – Nutty
• Wonder Wellies – Cracker (1975-76)
• Ad Lad – Whoopee (mid 1970s)
• Benny Hill (1975 to 1981) – Look-In
Andrew was the first artist to draw Look-In‘s “Benny Hill” strip, starting in early 1975, and was replaced (after a few tries by a few other artists) by Bill Titcombe in 1976. There are annotations by the editor or art editor on Andrew’s art that survives, and both have ‘alternate’ mastheads that Andrew himself appeared to try, before a photo masthead was decided on and dropped in.
Andrew also worked on Sparky, work that included covers and feature pages
• Beau Peep – with writer Roger Kettle – for the Daily Star
• A Man Called Horace – with writer Roger Kettle – for the Daily Mirror and Daily Record
• The Devils (1985 – 1987) – with writer Roger Kettle – for the for the Daily Star
• Titus the Newt – News of the World (1970s)
• Mildew – with writer Roger Kettle – for the News of the World
When Roger and Andrew left DC Thomson to go freelance in 1975, they contributed cartoons to various men’s magazines under the “Randy” signature, including Club International, Men Only, Knave and Penthouse
• A Tribute to Beau Peep – www.archive.cameldung.co.uk
• Official Site: www.beaupeep.com
• Horace on Twitter @mancalledhorace