We’re sorry to report the passing of cartoonist and illustrator Rod McKie, who has died after being taken seriously ill with a brain haemorrhage earlier this month.
His wife Lis, his partner for 46 years, announced his passing at the weekend, echoing the thoughts of many by saying “life without him will be duller, darker and very quiet.”
Forthright in views on comics and cartooning, talented in his work, Rod began drawing gag cartoons for Britain’s national press while still at school. As a cartoonist, he’s perhaps best known for his work for Punch, one of that long-running title’s youngest cartoonists when he began working for it in the early 1980s.
He also drew cartoons and illustrations for publications from all over the world, including Playboy, the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Readers Digest and National Lampoon. Sadly, as the British market contracted, by 2007, there proved less outlets for his work.
In comics, Rod drew “Skid Kidd” for Buster, published in 1985/86, one of a number of strips introduced in a revamp of the title, and, later, developed several graphic novels.
In addition to his comics and cartooning work, Rod also wrote about comics, on his own blog until 2019, and the old Forbidden Planet International Blog, edited by Joe Gordon. He was at time scathing of the industry he worked in, and wrote a number of very observant posts on how it was changing – not he felt, in any good way.
“When I was told Rod had been rushed to hospital earlier this month, I was hoping all that week that he would recover, and that when he did we would go out again, as the galleries re-opened, and of course, afterwards, we would have happily devoured some cake together,” says Joe Gordon in a tribute to his friend. “That’s not going to happen now, it’s never going to happen again, and that’s just wretched; the galleries will re-open, but I won’t get to share those spaces with my friend again.
Also paying tribute, fellow comic creator Jamie Smart noted “Rod was always hugely supportive of me and the community in general, and a constant cheerful voice.”
“He’ll be very much missed by the Cartooning community,” noted The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain. “A welcoming, supportive and generous talent. Sympathies with his family.”
“I never met Rod but had many exchanges with him on forums and on Facebook over the years and found him to be very engaging and what he didn’t know about cartooning probably wasn’t worth knowing,” feels cartoonist Gerard Whyman. “He was very passionate about the business and appreciated the time he took to give me advice on marketing my work some years ago when I brought out my self published cartoon compilation book.”
Outside of comics, Rod was a huge fan of recording artist Kate Bush, his passing marked on the Kate Bush News site, noting he was a “considerate and insightful online friend to so many of us – his fellow Kate Bush fans. He’ll be sorely missed.”
Our sympathies to Rod’s wife, Lis, family and friends at this time.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.