Tributes to Phil Gascoine

Phil Gascoine at the London Comics Festival in 2005. Photo: John Freeman

Phil Gascoine at the London Comics Festival in 2005. Photo: John Freeman

Commando, Battle, Marvel and Jinty artist artist Phil Gascoine died after a short illness in August 2007, prompting many tributes in response to an online appeal…

For those of who knew him, the news comes as a terrible shock. He was once chairman of the Society of Strip Illustrators and always a consummate professional.

Read a 2006 interview with Phil Gascoine

Phil Gascoine Comics Checklist

Remembering Phil…

“I have been desperately trying to get some kind of acknowledgement of Phil’s work with no success. Your tribute is spot-on and summed up the man so well.

“I can’t remember when I first started working with Phil. He just seems to have been around for ages. But one of my first memories is, after he had been drawing football stories for me for some time, he amazed me by saying that he didn’t really like football. You would never have known it from the quality of his work. This summed up Phil – he was a total professional. He could draw anything and make it look like he was an expert in that particular subject.

“The same guy who drew action heroes and footballers was also producing quality artwork for me on Wendy – picture stories about teenage girls and ponies.

Phil had just started work on a new episode when he took ill. He assured me that it wasn’t serious and that he would be back to work in a few days. Typical of the man.

“Over the years I met Phil several times, mostly in pubs in London. He was always terrific company.The last time we met, a couple of years ago, he wandered into a seminar we were holding for the Wendy artists in Richmond. He was wearing shorts, tee shirt and a great tan. He looked great. I’ll miss him.”

– Bill Graham, Editor, DC Thomson

“Phil was always up for anything, a good friend and always busy. There aren’t a lot of artists who can turn their hands to anything but he was one of them.”

– Barrie Mitchell, artist and friend

“I’m very sorry to hear the news about Phil. I didn’t know him well, but he was always chatty and cheerful; one of those people you always feel better for seeing.

“He was a true professional; versatile and accomplished with the knack of making it all look so easy.”

– Dave Gibbons, artist

“I have a lot of great memories of Phil. He was always hale and hearty and his death came like a bolt from the blue.

“Phil was such a figure in the comics industry, the epitome of the better end of the journeyman. He could do anything and was quite happy to do anything. He was the ultimate craftsman, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and a great strip artist, who worked on any book that came his way with the utmost professionalism and craftsmanship, passed away a few days ago.

“He’ll be sorely missed by his family and friends, and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.

– David Lloyd, artist (More of David’s memories of Phil here)

“It’s been a few years since Phil worked for Commando, but I’ll never forget his excellent artwork or his sheer professionalism. Nothing was ever a problem, and his sense of humour and the fact that he was such a great guy to meet and talk with was a measure of the man.”

– George Low, editor, Commando

"The Sarge" by Phil Gascoine, drawn for the Eagle Flies Again publication of this interview

“The Sarge” by Phil Gascoine, drawn for the Eagle Flies Again publication of this interview

“I was very sad to hear the news about Phil. He drew some of the first scripts I ever wrote, back on Ghostbusters. I was always struck by his good-natured approach, and his proper professionalism. He was an editor’s dream, a conscientious and reliable freelancer: when you gave him a job, you knew you’d get it back on time, and you knew that it would look right because, let’s face it, he couldn’t half draw too.”

– Dan Abnett, writer

“I mainly remember Phil from his days on the committee of the Society of Strip Illustrators where he served as newsletter editor and treasurer, as well as acting as liaison with the London Sketch Club who hosted the regular SSI meetings for many years. In those days the SSI operated a strict membership policy, with full membership available only to full-time professionals; as a lowly Associate member I quickly became used to being looked down on by many of the older members, but Phil never drew such distinctions; he always had the same cheerful, friendly welcome for everybody, and in contrast to the weary cynicism of many of his contemporaries, always seemed to bubble with enthusiasm and good cheer.”

– Matt Broker (‘israeli): read Matt’s full tribute on his blog

“Like Andrew Wildman and Liam Sharp, I got to meet and know Phil through the Society of Strip Illustrators – we were all eager newbies who were just gloriously happy to be in the presence of folks who were doing what we wanted to do- and make a living out of it! To the majority of the comics readership, guys like Phil were never superstars- they were the artist who you enjoyed the work of, lost in the story rather than being distracted by flashy stylistic tics. He was happy, friendly and encouraging – a great relief after the sling and arrows of meeting with editors.

“Meeting Phil was refreshing – he was a previous generation, where comics were even less respected than now but he loved what he did and never took it seriously in a hi-faluting way- he was always accomplished and professional.

“Phil – along with Barrie Mitchell – made you believe that this could be a real job, not something unattainable and distant. He was a good bloke, and god bless him for that.”

– Mike Collins, artist

“We have lost a number of the best professional comic artists the last couple of years and Phil Gascoine sadly has joined them. I have heard him describe himself as ‘just a journey man’, but he was a lot more than that. A modest man and in some ways an overlooked talent, just because he could turn his hand to anything. But professionals knew who he was, he was the artist who editors would turn to at the last moment for anything, from action war story to a girl and pony story and give a top quality job every single time.

“I first met Phil when I joined the SSI when it was run by a ‘junta’ from Fleet Street, some of whom gave the impression they did not want any new young artists joining or even worse any ‘competition’. Phil never ever gave anyone, new artist or fan, anything other than a complete welcome into his company.

“When the SSI had a new enthusiastic council who wanted, with the members blessing, to promote the SSI, (by this time the old guard had gone off and created a ‘more exclusive’ club for themselves), a group of us went around advertising companies in London, delivering by hand a promotional booklet for the SSI membership. The group consisted of mainly young artists who had more time on their hands than paying jobs, except for Phil who managed to fit it in between finishing off a deadline and going on a family holiday.

“That was Phil. He would just muck in giving his time, expertise and advice.

“I learnt how to be a better artist because of Phil, for me he was a consummate professional and a genuine ‘diamond geezer’. I just wish I had that one last pint with him. I will miss him and his quiet professionalism.”

– John Higgins, artist

“Like, it seems, 99.9% of the British comics industry, I first met Phil at the SSI and he was every bit as warm and welcoming as everyone says. Incredibly, after chatting for a while, he mentioned that he had a job coming up that needed a writer – was I interested? At that point, I had precisely one professional credit but Phil took it on trust that I could do the job. That’s exactly the kind of bloke he was.

“It’s only looking back that I realise just how generous Phil was with his time and talent and how decent and self-effacing in an industry which sometimes seems to specialize in attracting hollow self-promoters. Versatile, reliable and a genuine pleasure to work with, he deserved far greater recognition than he got, but I doubt that bothered him too much.”

– Simon Jowett, writer

Genetix - a series Phil Gascoine worked on published by Marvel UK by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Genetix – a series Phil Gascoine worked on published by Marvel UK by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

“I had no idea Phil was ill or that he had died. It came out of the blue and was a real gut punch.

“I think Phil mention’s in his interview with you that he gave me my break into comics. I was at college and attended the SSI meetings where I first met Phil. I was incredibly nervous and star struck; being in a room with some of my comic heroes and Phil took me under his wing; was friendly, approachable, totally genuine and looked after me making me feel at ease and welcome. He also told me that Look-In needed artists and that he would help me get an interview with their art editor. That contact led directly to my first published work and started my career. I will always owe Phil for that.

“We were able to work together many times since then; on Dreadlands, Genetix, and the strips for Loaded. Phil was a true professional and an underrated artist who was always a joy to work with: he didn’t have a pretentious bone in his body.

“We had kind of lost touch over the last few years but I would always be happy to chat with him on the odd time when he would call and catch up. I’m desperately sad that I won’t be able to do that any more and wish I could have done it more often now.

“My thoughts and condolences go out to his family at this sad and hard time.”

– Andy Lanning, artist

“Whenever we spoke he always came over as a very humble and unassuming person.”

– Tim Perkins, artist

“We were both artists working on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five for Guttenberghus several years ago. I saw Phil several times at meetings on the comic at a flat Guttenberghus had on Harley Street, London. Other artists were Barrie Mitchell and Mike Dorey.

“At a time when I had only just become a full-time professional artist, it was interesting to meet working professionals. Phil complained that he was always used as a fill-in artist if artwork from a foreign artist failed to arrive as Fleetway in time for publication. He’d do a rush job to get them out of trouble and then they’d point out that he hadn’t got the regular work because his (rushed) work wasn’t as good as theirs.

“I saw Phil at several of the UKAC conventions. He was always friendly and easy to talk to. No airs and graces, no inflated ego, just a decent regular guy – there should be more like him.”

– John Ridgway, artist

“Phil was a lovely bloke. I only got to meet him once at a UKCAC. Genetix was the first regular series I inked and getting to do 130 plus pages with a real seasoned pro like Phil was a fantastic grounding. His pencils were always really solid, a joy to work on. I’m saddened to hear of his passing.”

– Robin Riggs, inker

“I only really met Phil right at the end of my time at Marvel UK, but he struck me then as a cheerful, humorous, very likeable guy, and a talented and thoroughly professional artist. Reading the tributes of others, it’s clear that’s how they saw him too. A fine man.”

– Ian Rimmer, editor and writer

A cover for Jinty drawn by Phil (Cover kindly provided by Jenni Scott)

A cover for Jinty drawn by Phil (Cover kindly provided by Jenni Scott)

“Phil Gascoine was a constant and distinctive artistic presence in the pages of the girls comics. IPC’s Jinty, for example, featured his work throughout its whole run, from the tale of a haunted Indian necklace to ‘Badgered Belinda’ in the issue where Jinty merged with Tammy. His schoolgirls were always lively and expressive, and his evil crones suitably nightmarish – a delight to the young reader of the time, and repaying the older woman who re-discovers these items.

“I was always pleased to see his signature, writ large and often on the first page of a week’s instalment, in a position that no publisher would be able to blank it out of (these were before the days of art and script credits in most comics).”

– Jenni Scott, writer

“I met Phil first over twenty years ago at the Society of Strip Illustrators in Chelsea. I used to see him quite a lot back then, and he was always cheery and encouraging, flattering me by remembering who I was very early on in my career. I have often thought about him, wondering what he was up to. It would have been a treat to see him again.

“A down to earth, unaffected man, Phil was a old-school pro with no pretensions. One of the genuine good guys of the industry.”

– Liam Sharp, Artist and Publisher

“I can’t remember ever meeting Phil, but as an editor at Marvel UK I knew him as an artist that was always there for you when he had time in his schedule and would never miss a deadline — or baulk at art corrections when Columbia Pictures cracked the whip on likenesses in The Real Ghostbusters.

“When we were preparing the soon-to-be-aborted Zoids monthly title with Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell back in the Bayswater days of Marvel UK, we farmed out a couple of Grant’s last two or three weekly strips to other available artists, including Phil. The work he turned in was just beautiful, not as sleek and sexy as Yeowell’s but it had a texture and depth to it that made me wonder if we’d picked the right artist for the monthly after all.

“My brother in law died of the same illness as Phil just a couple of years ago, so I know how hard this last few months must have been on Phil’s loved ones, and my thoughts and sympathy go out to them.”

– Richard Starkings, Publisher, editor, letterer and artist

“Very sad news indeed. I met him when I, a young underground artist, first joined the Society of Strip illustration. He was immediately friendly and welcoming, making sure that I felt at home, as opposed to some of the other established old-school members who were, frankly, extremely snotty. I never knew him very closely but I was later on the committee of the SSI with him for about eight years. He was completely without affectation – down to earth and with an infectious sense of humour, a consummate comics pro and an exceptionally talent artist.”

– Bryan Talbot, artist, writer

“As someone who contributes to John Stewart’s ‘Look-Out’ website, a lot of people may not be aware Phil Gascoine also drew for Look-In in the 1980s, albeit briefly, on Robin of Sherwood and Knight Rider. I knew of his work mainly on the Blake’s 7 magazine. I also recall seeing his name credited on some 1970s Andy Pandy annuals, and was surprised at the massive difference in style.”

– Shaqui le Vesconte, editor, The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History

“Phil did some lovely work for both Battle and Eagle, two of the comics I grew up with.
“I met him at the London Comics Festival and found him polite, chatty and personable.
Thanks for the memories, Phil.”

– Ian Wheeler, editor, Eagle Flies Again

“Phil was a great guy to work with and a consummate professional.”

– Steve White, artist and editor

“Back in the day when I was a member of the SSI and fresh out of college it was such a buzz to meet guys like Phil and Barrie Mitchell. It was their work that many of us grew up on and I know that for me it was that that made me fascinated by the process of illustrating comics. I had’t seen Phil for quite a while. I know he will be missed.”

Andrew Wildman, artist

Read a 2006 interview with Phil Gascoine

Phil Gascoine Comics Checklist