We’re sorry to report the passing earlier this week of veteran cartoonist, editor and writer Dick Millington, aged 81. His credits included strips for the Daily Mail and the Daily Express but who is possibly best known to older downthetubes readers for “Mighty Moth”, the mischievous character he created for TV Comic.
Paying tribute, the Daily Mail reveals he was inspired as a child by superhero and other comics from America – and created his own characters and stories to sell to classmates at a penny a time.
“He was a lovely chap,” recalls comics writer and editor Tim Quinn. “I met him at [the] Strips ’78 [convention] and I started working for TV Comic soon after. A comic like no other… a lot of fun to work for.”
“An all-round pleasant guy with bags of talent,” adds former Fleetway editor David Hunt.
“His distinctive artwork and charmingly funny scripts were truly a joy to read,” notes Lew Stringer in his tribute.
Dick Millington’s career began in 1947 as a letterer for the Daily Mirror, while attending St Martins School of Art as a part-time student. After his National Service in the 1950s, Dick went to work again as a balloon letterer for the Daily Mail, then in 1963, when his drawing talents were noticed, he became a freelance cartoonist for the United Features Syndicate in the US.
He worked on many Fleetway comics in the 1960s and 1970s, creating characters such as “Ray Presto” for Krazy, “Happy Families” for Whizzer & Chips, “Jolly Roger” and “”Hover Boots.
He then became editor of children’s comics like TV Comic, Pippin and Playland in 1966 and created Mighty Moth for TV Comic – one of several long-running characters in the title that did not have a TV origin – which ran from 1959 to 1989. He also scripted “The Telegoons” which was drawn art by Bill Titcombe, “Basil Brush”, “Doctor Who”, and “The Moonbeams” for Pippin.
“I wrote the stories and drew the entertainment for 16 years in the Sixties and Seventies, along with ‘Basil Brush’,” Millington told the Daily Mail in 2002 when asked if he was the Moth’s creator by a reader. “My career in humour began in early youth when I was stooge to my dad, a semi-professional comedian (‘don’t give up the day job’) whose stage name was Billy Jiggs.
“We were children’s entertainers by day and on the working mens club circuit in London and Essex – an experience that has subdued better men than me.
“Unable to overcome stage-fright, I decided to retire from show business and become a cartoonist – where, in a high-circulation newspapers like the Daily Mail one can reach a huge audience without them shouting back!”
He was also a major contributor to Cheeky Weekly in the 1970s, as Peter Gray notes on his blog here.>
Moving to newspaper strip work in later years his credits include The Guinness Book of Records for the Mail on Sunday and drawing George Damper in the I Don’t Believe Itstrip cartoon for the Daily Mail. He also worked journalist and raconteur Bob Bevan for the Daily Express.
While the passing of a great cartoonist is always sad, I’m sure many of you would prefer to remember laughing at his cartoons.
Over on Wacky Comics, George Shiers posted this wonderful story about the man himself back in 2012, which will hopefully raise a smile…
“Dick Millington had always had a lot of money as he had inherited it from a family member, and one day he decided to buy a new, gold (in colour, not material!) Jaguar! Soon after buying the car he finished some artwork he was working on, and put it in the boot of his car to take to work to deliver them by hand.
“When he got there, he walked inside to tell them he was here, but when he returned outside his car had been stolen! He immediately called police, and after telling them what happened, they replied:
“‘We can understand your loss Sir, and we’ll try all we can to get your car back.’
“Dick Millington replied saying: ‘I don’t care about the car, I care about the drawings in the boot!'”
• Daily Mail announces Dick Millington’s death
• downthetubes, March 2009: Happy Birthday, Might Moth!
• Peter Gray features examples of Dick Millington’s strips here
• Lew Stringer has posted some great examples of “Mighty Moth” on his blog
• ToonHound features detailed guides to many artists strips for Fleetway comics, including Dick’s “Happy Families” and “Ray Presto”
“Mighty Moth” and TV Comic © Trinity Mirror
Categories: British Comics, Comic Creator Spotlight, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries
Dick Millington’s style was one of the first I ever recognized. I remember Mighty Moth from TV Comic (my first comic) and enjoyed it. I never knew it wasn’t based on TV – in those monochrome days of two telly channels (BBC and ITV) our hoop-style family aerial only picked up the Beeb, so I assumed it was on ITV. A Mighty Moth TV show could have been fun.
My condolences to his family.
I too loved the Mighty Moth comic strip and to this day I’m collecting Pippin and Playland comics. Dick’s work will always be appreciated, RIP.