Andy Capp is one of Britain’s most successful comic exports, syndicated worldwide – and the character’s 65th anniversary will be celebrated at London’s Cartoon Museum tonight with a special event.
Created by Reg Smythe, layabout Andy has transformed since his early days, initially a single panel cartoon for the Daily Mirror, some of his early character traits anathema today.
Andy Capp first appeared in the paper on 5th August 1957. Reg Smythe wrote, drew, inked and lettered every gag and picture for the 18,000 strips he created over the next four decades.
The strip has been syndicated in at least 50 countries and still appears in some hundreds of newspapers worldwide, his adventures at one time collected regularly in the UK, starting in 1958, at a rate of two albums a year, for several years. He’s also been the star of stage and screen, with James Bolam playing him on TV in a short-lived TV series.
Andy continues to enjoy a loyal following around the globe, with new antics every week in the national paper, often sticking two fingers up to authority; regularly earning deserved acerbic comment for his laziness and attitude from wife, Flo.
And yes, humour comic hero “Buster” was “Buster Capp”, Andy Capp’s son, although Reg Smythe hated the idea.
As we first announced back in May, tonight, the Cartoon Museum is presenting a special celebration of the 65th anniversary of Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp, looking at the history of the cartoon, the story of Reg’s life and his huge success.
Head to Wells Street for a panel discussion looking at how the comic has remained so popular to this day, and a viewing of original artworks.
On the panel will be Helene Elysee, Reg Smythe’s niece, who was very close to Reg thoughout his life and has a wealth of fascinating stories about the man behind the cartoon. Helene is the author of the wonderful biography of Reg called My Dancing Bear, published back in 2017.
Lawrence Goldsmith will also be on the panel, the current artist and co-writer of Andy Capp. Lawrence will talk about his long career as a newspaper artist and how he came to work on the strip. Alongside him will be Sean Garnett, who co-writes Andy Capp and is hugely respected journalist and writer in his own right, too.
Fergus McKenna, Content Sales Director of Reach PLC, rounds off the panel, who is in charge of the worldwide syndication and licensing of the Andy Capp brand, and indeed all Mirror strips, and who might, perhaps, be drawn on the future of what was such once considered a vital element to a newspaper’s Unique Selling Point, now sadly often reprint or long consigned to history.
We’re sure this will be a fascinating event celebrating a British comics icon.
• Talk – Celebrate the 65th Anniversary of Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp 6.30 – 8.00pm Thursday 4th August 2022! The Cartoon Museum, 55 Wells St England, W1W 8HJ | Tickets cost £10 and can be booked here
This is the story of Reg Smythe, creator of the world famous Andy Capp cartoon by his niece and former journalist Hélène de Klerk. Reg was the first British cartoonist to break into the American market and the first one to offer what journalist Paul Slade called “brutal kitchen sink realism”. The story charts his impoverished childhood and formative relationships through to international recognition and his last years as a semi recluse in the North of England.
The memoir gives an insight into the man behind the cartoon, linking childhood and adult experiences to the development of the cartoon’s characters, describing how he worked and what fame meant to him often in his own words, and featuring his early work and many never before seen cartoons.
James Bolam brought the loveable Northern layabout to life in this Thames TV produced sitcom. With Bolam in the title role, fag and all, the series also brings to life Flo, Andy’s long-suffering wife (played by Emmerdale’s Paula Tilbrook), Jack the landlord, Percy the rent collector, and the rest of the gang from the pages of the Daily Mirror.
The show was written by Leeds-born novelist, playwright and journalist Keith Waterhouse, creator of classic characters Budgie and Billy Liar the series was directed by BAFTA winner John Howard Davies (Fawlty Towers, Mr. Bean).
• Cigarettes and Alcohol: Andy Capp By Paul Slade
An extensive feature on the character. Reg Smythe was the greatest British newspaper strip cartoonist of the 20th Century – and second only to Peanuts’ Charles Schulz on a global scale. So why don’t we treat him that way, Paul asks?
• The A to Z of British Newspaper Strips by Paul Hudson is available from Book Palace Books now, price £55 | ISBN: 978-1913548247 | Artists and Writers: Numerous | 320 Pages
A fantastic new guide to almost every British newspaper strip ever published – read our review here
• Head to the Illustration Art Gallery web site to check out their catalogue of newspaper strip art, which currently includes examples of Andy Capp, Bristow, The Flutters, George & Lynne, The Greens, Jane, Jeff Hawke, Modesty Blaise, Mr Midge’s Bodyguard, The Perishers, Pop, Terry and Son, and many more
Andy Capp copyright Daily Mirror