Following up on his son’s tribute, fellow comic artist Barrie Mitchell recalls working with artist Tony Harding…
I first met Tony when he walked through the door, which he filled, at Link Studios. He was a big lad. I was into the second year of my four year apprenticeship and the studio wanted someone to replace John M. Burns, who was coming to the end of his and was off to do his National Service. Tony fitted the bill.
He took over some of my duties, making tea – pretty good! – delivering work of the other artists and replacing references back in their folders (how times have changed) when it was finished with. He got on and was well liked by everyone at Link.
We did as much drawing as possible in the studio and went to St Martins three nights a week, figure drawing, lettering, etc, soon to be joined by Mike Lacey.
At the end of his apprenticeship, Tony started illustrating soccer stories for DC Thomson and at that time, Fleetway, later Egmont, in Farringdon Road.
Both of us were busy with football stories through the 1970s and 80s. Tony was an Arsenal supporter and I’m Tottenham man. The banter can be imagined after matches! I became friends with his pals, and vice versa, who all played for his football team in Plaistow. They were all West Ham supporters, so any matches involving any of the three side, we were there.
We all spent a few weekends away, such as a great football Easter weekend in Ostend. We would all meet up on a Friday night, fancy dress parties at the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, at my wife’s 21st birthday, Tony came as a witch – I opened the door to see this six foot two, 16 stone, green-faced person with a hat, cloak and broomstick!
He must have had a shock as well – I was dressed as Frankenstein. Six foot three, with built up shoes! Happy days…
So he wasn’t just a work mate. I moved to the Isle of Wight in 1970, Tony and Anne moved over a year or so later. We travelled up and down to meet the DC Thomson editors when they came down to London, just making it back to Waterloo for the last train to Portsmouth and the ferry over to the Island.
I moved back to the mainland in 1975, only seeing Tony a couple of times at that point. By the time I moved back to the Isle of Wight in 2001 we had lost contact, which I regret.
Speaking to my neighbour’s son who is a manager at St Mary’s Hospital and knew Tony on Afton Ward where he worked, he said how shocked and saddened so many were when they heard the news. He also said “He was a lovely bloke”.
A fitting tribute, I think.
Our thanks to Barrie for sharing his memories.