A BBC promotional image for the documentary "The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse"

Bob Monkhouse: Beano Artist?

A BBC promotional image for the documentary "The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse"
A BBC promotional image for the documentary “The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse”

It’s been a matter of debate for British comics fans for many years, but DC Thomson staff think they may have confirmed the late, great comedian Bob Monkhouse wrote and drew for The Beano.

It’s well known Monkhouse, who had a massive comics and comic art collection and corresponded with many creators, including Commando artist Alan Burrows, worked for many British comics.

Bob Monkhouse went to school with artist and future author Dennis Gifford. Although Dennis was a year above Bob, they both started drawing comics when at school.

Monkhouse revealed how he’d sent his single picture cartoons and comic strips to just about every comic publisher he could find the address of in his own autobiography, Crying With Laughter and was first published by Mickey Mouse Weekly, after a dozen tries, which printed one of the cartoon pictures when he was about 12.

His comic writing career began in earnest during World War Two, working for companies such as Martin and Reid Ltd. who managed to get hold of stray loads of paper during wartime.

“Sometimes they found a consignment made from re-pulped bus tickets or newsprint,” Monkhouse recalled, “so blackened by printer’s ink that my drawings had to be painted in white on black background so as to be visible to the readers’ perusal … ”

Smasher Comics - art by Bob Monkhouse
Smasher Comics – art by Bob Monkhouse
Oh Boy! Comics was launched in 1948 by Paget Publications and Bob Monkhouse drew cover star "Tornado", battling some disturbing-looking aliens that have raised a few eyebrows in modern times!
Oh Boy! Comics was launched in 1948 by Paget Publications and Bob Monkhouse drew cover star “Tornado”, battling some disturbing-looking aliens that have raised a few eyebrows in modern times!

He drew strips for comics such as Smasher in 1947 and Oh Boy Comics – a strip whose alien design cause consternation today but were the product of more innocent times. He also illustrated one of his own books, Book of Days, published by Arrow Books in 1981.

But although many people have suggested he also wrote for The Beano, including fellow comedian Barry Cryer, and Bob himself said he had, records from the time that confirm he may have contributed are spartan.

Bob Monkhouse, comedian, host of Celebrity Squares and other game shows, started out as a comic artist
Bob Monkhouse, comedian, host of Celebrity Squares and other game shows, started out as a comic artist

Now, Beano archivist Bill McLoughlin thinks he has detected Bob’s hand in a Pansy Potter strip for the 1947 Beano Book.

“We have selected the 1947 Pansy, as it is in a style different from the rest,” he told the Scottish Sunday Mail this week. “We can’t say definitely but Bob always claimed he did draw for us and why would he tell pork pies about something so easily disproved?”

“I’d heard he did draw for the Dandy and Beano – and that excellent BBC Four documentary on Bob last week repeated the rumour – but what he actually did was a mystery,” comics expert and creator Lew Stringer told downthetubes. “Until now, it seems.”

Monkhouse moved on from comics to become a script writer and as well as his comedy career is best known for hosting many game shows such as Celebrity Squares and The Golden Shot — and, of course, Quick on the Draw. He died in 2003 aged 75.

“Most of his comic work was for indie comics of the late 1940s and early 1950s,” Lew Stringer notes. “He was an excellent cartoonist.”

“Comics loss was TV’s gain.”

Pansy Potter by Bob Monkhouse, a cartoon on the back of a postcard sent to Beano artist Nigel Parkinson
Pansy Potter by Bob Monkhouse, a cartoon on the back of a postcard sent to Beano artist Nigel Parkinson

UPDATE: In 2011, Beano artist Nigel Parkinson posted images of a postcard he received from Bob, with a drawing of Pansy Potter on the reverse – pretty much confirming Bill McLoughlin’s research.

Comic Bits Online: Pat Peril, The Tornado and Robert Alan Monkhouse

Lew Stringer’s article The art of Bob Monkhouse

Bob Monkhouse – BBC Obituary

Comic fans discuss Bob Monkhouse’s comic career on ComicsUK

Bob Monkhouse entry on Wikipedia

With thanks to John Paterson at TartanBaffles, Jeremy Briggs and Lew Stringer – this item was updated in 2019 to add extra links

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

One thought on “Bob Monkhouse: Beano Artist?

  1. Well, I never knew it was a mystery that Bob had drawn for Thomson. When the late Denis Gifford suggested Monkhouse might be a good subject for an interview he mentioned Bob had drawn Pansy Potter -I vaguely recall an interview on TV with him where he mentions this.
    Most of my notes were lost a few years back but in my rough notes is written Pansy Potter 1947.

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