This cover for Dry Humour, a 1976 humour collection cover by cartoonist “Gren” raised a smile over the weekend, the image a reminder of the drought that impacted Britain for that year.
Grenfell Jones MBE, better known as “Gren”, who died in 2007, produced a daily cartoon for the South Wales Echo for over 45 years, between 1968 and 1999. His cartoons won him numerous awards, including the much coveted UK Provincial Cartoonist of the year six times, and many paid tribute to him on his death, including then First Minister for Wales, Rhodri Morgan. His work was also celebrated in 2004 in a BBC documentary, Gren: How To Be A Welshman.
During his long career, Gren created a fictional valleys village, Aberflyarff, home of Ponty and Pop, whose lives centred around the rugby club and the local pub, the Golden Dap. The characters appeared weekly in the Echo, and in books.
Jones saw himself as a topical cartoonist, not a political one. “I’m not trying to prove any points”, he explained, “I try not to get into the political area as that isn’t my audience”: “I’m a newsaholic and I try to see all the late night shows. By the time I come into the office I’m sure I’ve got the right subject, but I check through the papers. From various headlines I try to create about six draft cartoons and then think which ones are the best or most important.”
His son Darryl, a retired police officer, began an producing Gren memorabilia, including calendars, back in 2013, after saving many of his father’s cartoons from destruction by the cartoonist over the years.
“About 10 years ago I went around to dad’s and there he was burning stuff out the back garden,” he revealed some years ago, during the launch if a “Rugby Addicts” calendar.
“When I saw it was all his cartoons, I told him he couldn’t burn them!
“He told me I could keep them if I did not want them to be burnt because he certainly was not going to keep them. So I took them bit by bit over the years – he was an eccentric character.”
Both Darryl and brother Chris remain keen to keep the trademark tongue-in-cheek art going for as long as the fans let them, and today, you can check out an official website for Gren Prints, Calendars and more, also offers quality novelty mugs and custom made to order rugby kits.
In 2008 Gren was commemorated at the Cardiff headquarters of Media Wales with a ten-metre long wrought iron cartoon, featuring his characters, Ponty and Pop, and Nigel the Sheep.
In 2010, “The Gren Way”, a trail to celebrate the life of popular cartoonist was launched near his home village in the south Wales valleys, around Hengoed, including across the landmark viaduct.