In Memoriam: Cartoonist Tony Husband

Tony Husband (2017) - provided for promotional purposes by the cartoonist

We’re very sorry to report the death of the brilliant, award-winning cartoonist, lyricist, poet and writer Tony Husband, creator of “Yobs” for Private Eye, co-creator of Oink! comic, and author of Take Care, Son.

His family announced the death of the much-loved and admired Tony yesterday after he had a heart attack on his way to a Private Eye party in London, collapsing on Westminster Bridge. He was 73.

His son, professional photographer Paul Husband, paid tribute to Blackpool-born Tony in a Facebook post, saying: “I don’t know what more I can say other than he was everything to me.”

He added: “It’s somewhat ironic that he somehow managed to survive 30 years of Private Eye parties but this one he didn’t make”.

In a separate post on X, he added: “It is with a torn apart heart that I must announce the passing of my dad.” 

He also shared the last picture he drew for fellow cartoonist Nick Newman, drawn on the train to the party because he expected to be late, while many others posted their favourite illustrations.

Declared by actor Michael Palin as “consistently one of the funniest cartoonists around”, Tony Husband, who had been cartooning since 1984, and lived in Stockport, is best perhaps best known for his “Yobs” strip in Private Eye.

“I believe this is your first christening?” - cartoon by Tony Husband
Oink! Issue Three - cover by Tony Husband
Oink! Issue Three – cover by Tony Husband

He co-founded and co-edited Oink! comic, and its TV spin-off, Round The Bend, for Hat Trick Productions, contributed to publications such as The Oldie, as cartoonist and writer, Punch, The Sun and The Times, and had more than 40 books published, many taking a satirical look at a wide variety of subjects and obsessions such as football, animal husbandry and Yorkshire puddings. For the theatre, he co-wrote a play and accompanying book, Save The Human, with David Wood, in 1991.

“Yobs” began in Husband’s hippy days when some skinheads beat him up. In revenge, he drew them spraying a wall, asking: “How do you spell NF?”

Recalling the start of his career in an interview with Laurence Goldsmith for The Jester, the magazine of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain back in 2006, Tony cited his early influences as cartoonists Mike Williams, Sempe, Ffolkes and Bill Tidy. His cartoons first appeared in “some hippy magazine” and papers such as The Mirror, but his big break when Gerry Lip at The Star started buying many of his cartoons. He went full time as a cartoonist in 1984, won Gag Cartoonist of the Year in 1985 – and never looked back.

Fantasy Football cartoon by Tony Husband
A Whinge of Cartoonists by Tony Husband

Offering advice to aspiring cartoonists he advised, “Keep at it, don’t give in. no matter what the editors say. I once wrote to Punch and Mayfair and asked why they didn’t buy my cartoons. Punch said, ‘We like your drawings but not your ideas’ and Mayfair said, ‘We like your ideas but not your drawings’. So I thought, F*** ’em! I’ll do it my way. You can like it or lump it.”

Asked what qualities he thought it took to sustain a long and successful career as a cartoonist, he suggested: “Self belief, talent, hard work, taking opportunities when they come, luck, good gags, reliability. Not much, really.”

A dedicated campaigner of raising awareness about dementia, he received critical acclaim for his telling of the story of his father Ron’s dementia, Take Care, Son, published in 2014, and also created From A Dark Place: How A Family Coped With Drug Addiction, a comic book about his son’s journey through drug addiction.

Cartoonist Tony Husband (left) and poet Ian McMillan (right)
Cartoonist Tony Husband (left) and poet Ian McMillan (right)

He and the poet Ian McMillan regularly toured the UK with their show A Cartoon History Of Here, an evening of live, improvised poetry and cartoons.

“Such sad and tragic news,” said Ian on Twitter. “I had the joy and privilege of working with Tony for many years, taking our show to village halls and schools all over the country. Tony had such love for people and such a gift for making everybody laugh. I weep for all the blank pages he’ll never fill.”

Campaigning Work

Take Care, Son by Tony Husband
Above: Pages from Take Care, Son, by Tony Husband

Tony’s experience of dealing with dementia proved a powerful drive for his work outside the world of cartooning. Talking about his book, Take Care, Son, back in 2018, Tony explained in an interview that the book came about shortly after his father, Ron, a dementia sufferer, had passed away.

“I was sat in my studio after a long day of deadlines. I started thinking of him and just asked him what it was like to have dementia… he replied! So l had a conversation with him and drew on 4 x A4 pages our conversation.

“Whether it was dad, my imagination or the bottle of Rioja l’d opened, it worked. I showed my friend Stephen Fry the pages and he asked if he could tweet them – and if my system could take 12 million hits – and he did. It went viral and a publisher emailed and asked if l would like to create a book from the pages.

“I think as with all illnesses of the mind, people struggle to understand or deliberately avoid understanding because it’s what they fear the most. That’s why I’m so proud of my book and the fact it’s helping raise awareness of dementia… There are some amazing people working so hard to help people understand more.”

In 2021, Tony released a short, poignant drama, “Joe’s Journey, starring actor Tony Robinson, that aimed to raise awareness about dementia, available to watch on YouTube, directed by Jason Read.

It’s the simple, charming but powerful story of a man who sets out to go and see his Mum for tea, to concern from his partner, played by Judy Matheson, and it’s soon clear he’s not at all sure how to find her… but has help in his quest.

Produced through crowdfunding with the support of a huge number of backers, the short film has earned plenty of well deserved praise from those coping with, or supporting those dealing with dementia.

“Raising awareness of dementia is a passion for me and this little film is all part of that process,” Tony said of the project at the time.

Dementia cartoon and poem by Tony Husband
Dementia cartoon and poem by Tony Husband

Tony also provided cartoons for a Flying with Dementia project, launched last week, produced by the University of Plymouth in partnership with Heathrow Airport, new guidance to support passengers with dementia through air travel.

He also worked with international troubadour Sean Taylor on a collection of songs about dementia to support the campaign #JustOneHour, a campaign asking every caregiver in the UK to sign up to pledge to provide at least one hour a week of meaningful music for individuals livings with dementia. The project aims to spark a cultural change in dementia care through music.

Tony co-wrote all the songs, which feature a collective of different musicians, including Steve Milton, Jason Read, Mal Troon and Mark Hallman). The songs include “I Think I know It’s You” and “The Rhythm Inside”.

(You can purchase the songs via Sean’s page on BandCamp. All proceeds from this project go to Musica Music and Wellbeing CIC, a community interest company specialising in dementia care).

Tony was also a supporter of The Hyde War Memorial Trust, the charity organisation describing him as “a treasured friend and supporter.

“We were honoured by his generosity in providing his art work, poetry and presence for the work of Trust and the wider community.

“Along with his father Ron, our original archivist, he will be forever remembered with gratitude and love. We offer our condolences to his dear family and many friends.”

Tributes to Tony

“Quiet children, it’s the Maths Police” - cartoon by Tony Husband

It would be impossible to feature all the hundreds of tributes to Tony that have been posted on social media, particularly X, since his death was announced, so I’ve chosen a range, from comic creators and others, to try and capture some of the high regard in which he was felt. I hope I’ve done him justice.

I had some contact with Tony myself down the years, but only met him once, interviewing about his life and work at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He was a delight to talk to, and to learn about his incredible career. His cartoons were always a delight – on point, barbed, and often very capable of exposing our failings as a species, but had a sort of kindness about them, that few can deliver. Both Tony, and his cartoons, will be much missed.

This cartoon by Tony Husband, posted in 2021, reflects his skill as a cartoonist and observer of humanity's flaws...
This cartoon by Tony Husband, posted in 2021, reflects his skill as a cartoonist and observer of humanity’s flaws…

“Shocked and saddened to learn that we have lost Tony Husband,” said fellow cartoonist Steve McGarry. “It was 40 years ago that Tony wrote to me out of the blue, saying that he was a fellow cartoonist and admired my work. I invited him to my studio in Canada House in Manchester city centre.

“Tony wasn’t a full time cartoonist in those days,” he recalled. “I think he worked in a watch repair shop or a jewellers, or something like that … and when he turned up at the studio, he brought some of his work to show me. His portfolio consisted of a battered old hardback library book with bits of newspaper clippings stuck over the pages. I mean, it was literally just a battered old novel. As he handed it to me, I had a sinking feeling that I might have invited a crackpot into my studio … but I thought I’d better just glance at the pages and feign interest so as not to offend. But then I realised that I actually recognised his work and it was really great.

“… So we became fast friends. When I got too busy to continue working on ‘Cannon’, the football comic I’d created for Match, Tony took over the writing duties. When he launched the comic Oink, Tony invited me to do a couple of covers and a comic strip. A couple of years later we created ‘Ray of the Rangers’ for Shoot! … my art, Tony’s scripts .., and that ran every week for five years. By then I’d moved to the states and Tony’s handwritten scripts, containing the worst spelling you’ve ever seen, would whir over the fax machine in the middle of the night.

“Debs and I will look at the framed cartoon he gave us as a wedding present … it is typically bawdy .. and toast the memory of a good friend and a great lad. RIP.”

Tony Husband drawing on the walls of Gallery Oldham earlier this year. "He was a great friend to Gallery Oldham and will be much missed," the Gallery said on Twitter. Photo: Gallery Oldham
Tony Husband drawing on the walls of Gallery Oldham earlier this year. “He was a great friend to Gallery Oldham and will be much missed,” the Gallery said on Twitter. Photo: Gallery Oldham
Our Beautiful friend, Tony Husband has passed away. We’ll always miss you. The Lads x
“Our Beautiful friend, Tony Husband has passed away,” announced Manchester band Elbow, sharing this cartoon on Facebook. “We’ll always miss you. The Lads x”

Posting on X, Nick Newman, recipient of Tony’s final cartoon, said: “Unbearably sad news that the great Tony Husband has died… he will be hugely missed by friends and readers.”

“He was a was a great and very loyal friend,” he later added. “He came to stay once, I was late getting home and our neighbour Denise o’Donoghue gave him a cup of tea. She ran Hat Trick Productions…the result was Round The Bend!”

Paying tribute, Private Eye magazine commented: “RIP cartoonist Tony Husband – prolific, funny and inventive contributor to Private Eye since 1985.”

Commenting on behalf of London’s Cartoon Museum, trustee Oliver Preston said: “Tony Husband was the most brilliant joke cartoonist, a mainstay of the speccie, private eye and the oldie. Wonderful humour, great gags. Multi award winning, and will be much missed.”

His local pub, The Queen Adelaide in Stockport, where he lived, shared photos of Tony’s work on its walls, customer Roy Andrew noting how he had been a supporter of the local campaign to save Godley Green Belt from destruction.

“I vividly remember being entranced by Tony’s distinctive work in Oink! when I was a kid, and always enjoyed seeing his art throughout the years,” reflected BEANO cartoonist and writer Andy Fanton. “My thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Writing on Facebook, cartoonist David Leach recalled how, as one of the three creators of the great children’s comic, Oink, Tony, along with Patrick Gallagher and Mark Rogers gave him his start in the world of comics when they commissioned Psycho Gran.

“I’ve remained in contact with Tony over the years and he was always very friendly, supportive and encouraging. His pocket cartoons were always very funny and his ‘Yobs’ strip in Private Eye was always a favourite of mine.

“It’s one of those terrible cliches to say, but I was only talking to him this week on Facebook. I shall miss him. My thoughts are with his friends and family.”

"Your dog is worrying my sheep" - climate change comment from Tony Husband

“I’m very sorry to hear that Tony Husband passed away,” commented cartoonist Lew Stringer. “One of the contributing editors of Oink! comic in the 1980s and a supremely funny cartoonist for many years. I only met Tony once (at the launch party for Oink! in 1986) but, like many of us did, I communicated regularly with him on Facebook. Always friendly and supportive, he’ll be very much missed by the cartoonist community. My condolences to his family and many friends.”

“It is of great sadness to hear that my dear friend Tony Husband passed away,” said artists Stanley Chow on X. “One of Britain’s greatest cartoonists. He was such a legend, yet so humble. But most all, just one of the kindest and soundest soul you’ll ever meet. May you rest in peace Tony.”

Philip Boyce, who runs the Oink! blog supported by many of the comic’s creators, commented: “I’m in shock, I really don’t know what to say. I never had the chance to meet Tony, I was hoping to next Spring. But I did get to speak to him on the phone a couple of times and he was so enthusiastic about his OiNK work all these years later.

“A true gentleman, he cared deeply for people and this planet and of course he was very, very funny. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Tony Husband is online at – but note some of his web site is Flash driven and requires a browser such as Puffin to be viewed on mobile devices

Watch Joe’s Journey on YouTube

Tony Husband was on X as @tonyhusband1

Paul Husband’s initial tribute to Tony on Facebook – which has had over 760 comments as of Friday 20th October 2023

Tributes to Tony Husband on X (do note this thread will date the longer it took you to use it!)

For anyone interested in reading Take Care, Son: The Story of My Dad and His Dementia, it’s available to purchase on AmazonUK here (Affiliate Link)

Further Reading

BBC News: Veteran political cartoonist Tony Husband dies (Report with tributes)

The Guardian – Obituary by Steve Holland of Bear Alley (published Thursday 26th October 2023)

Daily Telegraph – Tony Husband, Private Eye cartoonist who created Yobs and later movingly chronicled dementia – obituary (Subscription Required)

The Oink Blog: Remembering Tony Husband by Philip Boyce

“I never met Tony Husband in person but I did have the opportunity to speak with him on the phone a few times over the years and online,” Phil recalls. “He was always so enthusiastic about OiNK and everyone who had worked on it. His passion for the comic was infectious, his love for all of its contributors clear as day and he was always so open to chatting and reminiscing…

Professional Cartoonists Organisation – Tony Husband – A Tribute in Cartoons

Fellow cartoonists choose their favourite Tony Husband gags, assembled by Glenn Marshall

Manchester Confidentials: Tony Husband Interview

Represented interview first published in June 2023. Tony Husband talks to David Adamson about a career spent satirising British life using pencils and panels, and recalls the origins of his “Yobs” strip for Private Eye

Greater Mancunians – Tony Husband

Categories: British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries, Other Worlds

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2 replies

  1. Great humorist. He’ll be greatly missed.

  2. Tony Husband and I were at primary school at the same time. He was one of the kindest, gentlest men I ever knew. Fame didn’t spoil him one bit. Sleep well, my friend.

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