Friday, May 23, 2008

Looking Back With: James Kemsley

Allow me to set the stage for this one. I conducted it on a hot February afternoon in 2004 and it's remained in the archives since then. There's two reasons why this interview has taken this long to appear. They are, in order, because James Kemsley and myself were always going to do a follow-up to this covering his non-comic strip work, his work in movies and on television. Although we spoke a few times since the interview we never got around to locking in a time to finish it off. So this isn't quite as complete as it could have been.

The second reason was that I recorded it on mini-disc and subsequently lost the disc. The same disc had conversations with Jim Mooney, Mike Netzer and Alex Saviuk on it as well. During our recent move I found the disc, charged up my barely working mini-disc player and copied it over. After having it transcribed I felt that it still held up as a good insight into how James was working at that time - hence I've left in a few references to events that were going on back in 2004, including the (then) upcoming Meggs XI game at the Tanunda Winery, which is where I first met James and got to hang out with a bunch of cartoonists, cricketers and at least one internationally famous rock star. It was a fine day and remains in my memory as being a shining ray of light during an otherwise dark time.

Our main interaction came about when the Ginger Meggs strip was threatened. In mid 2004 the Sunday Mail in Adelaide decided to drop Meggs in favour of American sourced strips, most of which seemed to cross promote FoxTel. James contacted me and had me act as his 'man on the ground', which I did. We formed a plan of action, arranged a petition and raised some media awareness. Our first shot was to be a two pronged approach - on the same day I spoke to the ABC here in the form of radio station 5AN, and James spoke to 5DN. We expected more but within two hours of the pair of us going to air the editors at the Sunday Mail had offered James a new contract and were begging for a new Meggs to appear that very Sunday. We'd won the war with our first shots, something that impressed and amazed us both. We then backed that up with a campaign in Sydney, where Meggs was dropped in favour of a Su-Doku page! We had a victory there as well, as Meggs was soon snapped up by a rival daily.

James isn't with us anymore, and we're all poorer for his passing. Jason Chatfield has taken the mantle of being the Ginger Meggs cartoonist now and he's doing pretty darn fine with it. James would be proud to see Jason's strips appearing everywhere and he'd even happier to know that Meggs is still going strong. As it should be.

So sit back, grab a cold, frosty drink, and enjoy!

DANIEL BEST: What is your background and how did you start cartooning?
JAMES KEMSLEY: I guess I was one of these kids who always enjoyed drawing and copying Disney cartoons and general animation type things, Popeye and whatever. I always found it very relaxing to draw, and it was the one thing that my parents thought that I could do at a very young age and so they encouraged me. I also wish they had encouraged me to sing or play cricket, but they didn’t encourage me as much, so I am not able to do those other two things. But just at a very young age I started drawing and then I got to a stage when I was about 15 or 16, it might have been as late as 18, I was living in a country town in Victoria and they had their local problems. I did a cartoon protesting against one of their local environmental problems and it was published in the local newspaper and this was back in about 1960, it must have been 1965 or 1966, and they approached me about doing a cartoon once a week for the paper after that, which I ended up doing for about two and a half years, so I guess that is how I got into it.

DB: What were some of your early influences back then?
JK: Well gosh, when you live in Victoria and you grow up and, I don’t know if you know much about the Victorian cartooning scene in the 1960s, but it was dominated by WEG and Jeff Hook in Melbourne and on a national scene, people like Bruce Petty and Paul Rigby – I was more along the lines of trying to forge WEG and Rigby and Hook more than anybody else and they were the cartoonists that I really enjoyed. At the same time reading comic strips, I had always been a Wizard of ID fan and that is the humour that I enjoyed. This is getting onto the stage where I actually started thinking about what I enjoyed, as opposed to when you are a kid and you pick up the paper. Like all kids, I used to read the Sunday comic veraciously, probably up until I moved to Victoria where there were no Sunday comics as such in those days. But I used to enjoy reading Ginger Meggs and Uncle Joe’s Horse Radish and Fatty Finn and mainly the Australian comics are the ones that appealed to me really.

DB: Did you have had a temptation to draw one of WEGs grand final pin ups?
JK: No, but he drew Ginger Meggs in a political cartoon once and sent it off to me and we are quite good friends, WEG and I. I am President of the Australian Cartoonist Association and last year it was quite a thrill and pleasure to present WEG with what we call our Jim Russell Award, which is an award for contribution to the art form shall we say and he was a recipient last year. It is not so much something that you win, but you are rewarded.

DB: I’ve never met him, and I have only ever seen WEG once on the Footy Show.
JK: Oh yes, he was on there, yes.

DB: He came on and he drew one of his banners, I can’t remember what it was, but it was one of the full size things that he does and did it in about an hour and it was perfectly detailed.
JK: Oh he could probably do it in about 15 minutes.

DB: Well I think for a lot of the time he was just sitting there and waiting for them to call him back on. I was stunned by how good he could do it so quickly as well. I have always been envious of people who can draw so well, so fast and it is always in the back of my mind thinking I wonder what would happen if this guy actually sat down and took his time?
JK: It is very hard to draw. Most of the things that people draw quickly are things that they have done a thousand times before, because what you need to do to is see it on the page and then do it. What people forget that artists do it with felt pens and there it is. There is no sketching out first or anything like that, generally it is the stuff that they have done a million times before that they do very quickly. When it comes to sitting down, drawing a cartoon or a comic strip, well you obviously take a lot more time, and you are far more careful in doing it.

DB: It was fast and quite interesting because he did do it with marker pens.
JK: Yeah, yeah.

DB: And as I was watching him start, I thought you are a brave man going into this with marker pens, because if you make a mistake...
JK: You have got to remember that WEG is nearly 80 and he has been drawing for 60 years. You don’t have to be brave; you just know what you are going to do.

DB: Auto pilot.
JK: Yeah, that is basically it. I am sure when he does the final one he will take a lot more time and probably pencil it in and go over it and make sure because they are the ones that people unfortunately hang onto for years and they come back to haunt you. I try not to do anything in public anymore, because every six months I hate what I did six months before so I like to keep it hidden. One of the reasons that I do very few collections of books, it’s only when I get my arm twisted or get a vast amount of money thrown in front of me that I do them, because I know within six months of having done it, I wish I hadn’t.

DB: How did it come about that you took over Ginger Meggs and what appealed to you about Ginger Meggs?
JK: I took it over in 1983, so that is quite a long while ago now. Jimmy Bancks was the creator of Meggs as you are probably aware.

DB: Yes.
JK: I have known his family for some 35 years now and in fact, I was very close with his daughter and her husband. Anyway, I was working in London in the early 80s and late 70s and we had a couple of businesses happening together and one which eventually lead to a Ginger Meggs movie being made in 1982. Now although I didn’t have a great deal to do with the movie, it was my idea to do it. I was working in New York when the movie was being filmed so they asked me to come back and work on the film and have some influence on it because as I said it had been my idea to do the movie. At the same time I had started drawing a comic strip on a weekly basis for an Australian and New Zealand newspaper in London. And so, while I came back here, I was busily doing my comic strip and sending it back to London, which was really convoluted because I was actually working out of New York, but that is a very long and dull story.

While I was drawing the comic strip one night, some of the kids that were in the movie asked if I could draw Ginger Meggs comic strips. So I took one of my gags that I was doing for London and instead of having my two characters in it, I think I put two of Bancks’ characters in it, Ginger and someone else, his mum from memory, and gave it to them. Anyway about 18 months after that, the artist who was drawing Ginger Meggs was killed when his car crashed into a pole and unbeknown to me, the kids had given the comic strip to the Bancks family as a thank you and they had it framed. So the Bancks family contacted me and said, “Listen, we have to submit a name for the takeover of doing the strip. We want to keep it going and we think you can do it, are you interested?” And at that stage I was at loose ends about what I was going to do with myself and I said, “Oh yeah, I’ll give it a bash,” because I knew the character fairly well because I had been involved with the movie fairly closely and knew what Meggs was about. The movie was actually based on a whole lot of old Bancks comic strips. So I could see where the character was coming and going and so the bottom line was that, they picked three people for the job. The guy that I think they really wanted to do it was already doing two comic strips for the paper already, so they said, “If you do this, you have got to finish your two strips.” And he didn’t want to do that because he didn’t want to be doing a strip for someone else, he wanted to do his own creativity

The other guy was about 70 and they thought well if they gave him the gig, he might not be around long and they might be looking for someone else in a year and they might have to go through the whole process again. So it fell in my lap. And they just said, “Look you have got the job, but we have got to tell you that we think the comic strip is past its use by date and we don’t know if it is getting any great reaction, but we will give you 16 weeks to make it work. And at the end of that period we will reassess where it stands in the marketplace and if we think it is having an impact, we will leave it.” And lucky for me, 16 weeks later they kept it going and that was about 21 years ago.

DB: Was it daunting taking on such an icon, because Ginger Meggs has been around...
JK: Since 1921.

DB: Yeah.
JK: You have got to remember that you are taking over something that is very well established. There is no other comic established as well in Australia as Ginger Meggs. It’s a little bit like taking over the Premiership Team; you are on a hiding to nothing. If someone has just won the Premiership and even if you win the Premiership next year, you know big deal.

DB: You're riding on the coat tails.
JK: Yeah. So I did that and I thought a lot about it and I went to them and I said, “Look, I have looked at this and I think the reason that it is failing is because it is not relevant to now.” And they said, “Well you take the punt and we will support you and update it.” I suddenly started bringing in contemporary settings and contemporary characters and contemporary language. I should have gone the whole hog but it took me years to make the drawings really contemporary and have the kids in very modern clothing, which I do now, but it took a while to get to that point. So with the paper behind me, I thought I have got nothing to lose because there is going to be a lot of people whinge and moan and there were a lot of readers that wrote in and said, “Oh we don’t like Ginger being modern.” They had been reading it for years and it should be like it was. What they didn’t realise is that Bancks very subtly in his tenure on the strip, actually updated it each week as he went with the language and the drawings and so on.

So yeah, taking over an icon strip, was daunting. I know where I stand on the pecking order of people who have done the strip and I don’t rate me any better than Jimmy Bancks. In fact, unfortunately for me, he was quite a genius when it comes to writing and in the later part of his life, his artwork, so I just like to settle in at the back there and do my own thing now.

DB: I wouldn’t under-rate yourself too much. The Bancks stuff is great and that is the stuff that I'm pretty sure I grew up reading.
JK: How old are you?

DB: 36.
JK: No you probably grew up on me.

DB: I can remember it back in the early 70s, the Sunday strips especially.
JK: In that case you grew up on Lloyd Piper. Lloyd Piper took over in 1973 when Ron Vivian died. It is like me, I read Ginger Meggs as a kid, but the Ginger Meggs I read was obviously Ron Vivian, because Jimmy Bancks had died in 1952. I didn’t start getting into comic strips until ’58 or ’59, so I would have been bought up on Ginger as Vivian saw it, but I still enjoyed it, you know.

DB: I loved it. I think it was still signed by Bancks or it was Ginger Meggs by Bancks.
JK: When Bancks died he wanted it to keep going, it was his wish. A good friend of his was Sir Frank Packer; Kerry’s dad, and he had expressed his wish that if anything ever happened to him, that he would keep it going; the paper would keep it going. So they found another artist, but Sir Frank apparently issued a memo saying, “Look the other artist can draw it, but it has got to have Bancks name on it,” so it was always known as Ginger Meggs by Bancks. It wasn’t until I took over that we discussed it and almost right from the beginning, I labelled it Bancks’ Ginger Meggs by Kemsley. See I thought that...

DB: As I said, the ones I grew up with, the ones that I can remember I always thought were Bancks and then I found out later on that they weren’t by Bancks.
JK: No.

DB: And the only way that I found out is that I had picked up The Golden Years of Ginger Meggs by Bancks.
JK: Although I got a lot of brick-bats, I got a lot of bouquets from people who started reading the strip and it obviously worked for them because it is still in the paper. They said, “Oh we can’t tell the difference between your work and Jimmy Bancks’ work,” and as I said a minute ago, that is probably where I made the big mistake that I tried to update everything in the strip, but I thought gee people really know Bancks’ work and I really should try and forge it. And for probably 10 years, I really went out of my way to make sure if I drew something, I drew it like he would draw it. I have got all the Ginger Meggs annuals and the Golden Years of Ginger Meggs and when you are doing something in your own way, you will lay it out in your perspective and everything that you do comes naturally. You can’t force a drawing; you just have to do it as it is in your head. And Bancks’ head is different to my head, so for that 10 years, I always referred to how would he do a layout and I really tried to make people think that they were still reading Bancks’ cartoon. Until one day I said this is silly, this is taking me too long to do and I started doing the daily strip about 10 or 12 years ago which took off fairly well for me, so I didn’t have time to keep referring to books and everything for every strip I did, so I just one day let my head draw and that is how it comes out.

It must be 10 years ago again, or even longer, there was a guy interested in doing a Ginger Meggs animation show. He went bankrupt eventually on a lot of projects, and it was one of them, but I did a lot of initial drawings for him and we decided that it was going to look better if Ginger had eyes instead of the streaky eyes that Bancks had given him, which was part of the 1920s or ‘30s style of drawing anyway. If you look at the early Blondie’s or Little Orphan Annie or Fatty Finn, that was the style of drawing and we just decided that it should look a little bit more modern than it is and so I suddenly took his shoes off and put gym boots on him and put a tee shirt underneath his vest and gave him eyes that could be animated really well if necessary. And now no one has ever come up to me and said, “Whatever happened to his eyes?” They just...

DB: Accepted it.
JK: Accepted it and of course I try and give the whole strip a modern look. I love comics and I love people’s artwork. I am very lucky to know a lot of the major cartoonists in the world and we often sit down once or twice a year wherever I am and I talk to them about their style and their technique and I think it is important with Meggs that the whole look of it is modern, you know. I don’t know, do you read it in The Advertiser over – The Mail over there?

DB: Yes I do.
JK: Well you will often see that I get away from panel by panel and just use the space to put drawings in and that is kind of a 2000 thing to do. You know, the ground that everyone thinks is broken by Calvin and Hobbes was actually broken by Windsor McKay about 100 years ago. Then people started conforming to little boxes and people like Watterson and now Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman who do Zits and Patrick MacDonald who does Mutts and all these people, to say well we have got that much space to fill, why do little boxes and do something that is intricate to the story.

DB: Do you find any resistance when you do go outside of the circle? I have the Watterson book, the Tenth Anniversary of Calvin and Hobbes, where he goes through the process of doing a strip and how he disregarded, as you said, the boxes, and he just went with whatever he wanted to and the syndicates would say, “No that is not what we want,” but he dug his heels in.
JK: I think that he broke the mould and said it was okay. I send my stuff across as it is published in a few papers in the States and on websites, and I have never had anybody complain about it, it just gives you more artistic freedom. Sometimes the strip lends it itself to being in boxes. It just says, this should be in boxes and you do it. Other times you think no, no, I want to take the whole background and put a couple of little squares on top of the background and continue the story. Also with the modern comic strip, people don’t want to sit down and read. I promise you if we put Bancks in the paper now, as wonderful and as funny as he is, no one will read it and no one would bother because it is incredibly wordy. There is a school of thought that if you have more than 26 words in a modern comic strip, particularly a daily strip, people won’t read it.

If you look at the popular strips like say Garfield for instance on a Sunday, if Garfield had got 26 words in it I would be very surprised. People want to have their fast food comics now, they want to look at it, literally scan it and look at the tag and then move on. You will get a chuckle or a belly laugh although these days a lot of cartoonists don’t specifically go for one, you don’t know if you are going to get a belly laugh. I have done some strips which I thought were very philosophical and I thought that people were going to grin at and I remember that they have ended up laughing out loud at them. Others I have done that I thought were very, very funny, that have fallen flat. So you just do it as you draw it and that is how you write it. Yu can’t write anything that isn’t in you to start with. I try every so often to redraw a Jimmy Bancks story line and they are the hardest ones for me to do, because they are very foreign to my way of writing. I would have more of a chance of drawing a Calvin and Hobbes or drawing a Mutts or drawing a Zitts, than I would have of going back and doing Bancks, but I still try and do it just to get me back to what was the basic character of Ginger Meggs. It was this basic character that Bancks created that has obviously lasted 50 years longer than Bancks did.

DB: It's interesting that you say that about Bancks because one things that stands out when you look at his artwork, is the use of blacks. Where he would have all panels that were black, which I don’t think you could do that now.
JK: Well see I did one Sunday strip where I did one, two, four black panels and one large coloured panel. I did it intentionally because I basically had half of the page with a very colourful deep, busy drawing. What it was was a pair of eyes and the first panel had one character saying to the other, “Huh.” And then he said, “Are you still there Meggsie?” And all it was in one panel was a pair of eyes with a balloon in it and the second panel was Meggsie saying, “Of course I am still here, when do you think I am going?” And then the third panel had both sets of eyes and one is saying, “Well what do you think Ginge?” And the eyes are saying, “What do I think, what do I think?” And then the last panel which took up 90% of the picture, was looking behind an audience, looking though their heads to a stage where there are two guys in a deer suit with a kids singing on stage and he is saying, “I don’t think show business is what it is cracked up to be.”
But there was a case, a reason why I had the dark panels and the black panels. I think in about 20 years I have done that two or three times because when you really want to have the last on jump off the page and be a very strong tag, it works very well. It is like colour now. When you use colour, you can really drown in colour and I find that if I am going to have a panel that is really busy and really colourful, I will make the others very plain and generally I will put a white background on them, because that just helps life up the colour that I want to be the strong panel.

DB: How long does it take you to do a strip, say a daily?
JK: If I have to, I can sit down, start one in the morning and do it and colour it and finish it and have it shipped off that afternoon. I have a really weird working life. But if I start at 10:30 and I haven’t got an idea, by the time I get the idea and physically do it, it takes me about 12 or 15 hours. Often I will start at about nine o’clock or ten o’clock and I will just go until two or three the next day and knock off at four in the morning, which is not unusual. That is the Sunday strip. The daily strip will take me two hours to do one, from getting an idea and going from the idea to the final version. I use a lot of electronic help these days like Photoshop and Illustrator but I still draw the strip with ink on paper. I save everything I draw and I have got 2000 or 3000 drawings that I have done over the years of individual characters and sometimes I can use those characters again. I say, well I have got Meggs running and I might have spent an hour getting it exactly as I like it and I think well I will use that again. So I might wait for a while and I will just use that one picture in a different strip. Like reversed or flipped or something with it, because that helps with the timing too. I find it quite a laborious thing to do seven strips a week as well as having a life.

DB: Cricket is predominant in your strip and from what you said earlier it sounds like you are a very frustrated cricketer.
JK: I am totally frustrated and I blame it on my father for not telling me how good I was when I was eight. I have two boys whom I have told are good from the time they were four. One is the leading wicket taker with his club and the other is a natural athlete and last weekend took three for 18 in his first spell.

DB: Beautiful.
JK: The Ginger Meggs XI goes back to the fact that I like cricket and being, it is an awful word to use, being in the public eye, I don’t want to use the word celebrity or personality or anything, but being in the public eye you get invited to a lot of things. I always accept the things that I get invited to for cricket and over the years I have made a lot of friends who are test cricketers who enjoy comics. Steve Waugh is a big comic fan and I was also involved for about 17 years as a director on the Bradman Foundation, so that also helped.

But Jimmy Bancks and Arthur Mailey who were very close friends. Arthur Mailey was a leg spinner for Australia and he was an editorial cartoonist and a caricaturist for The Sydney Sun. He and Jimmy Bancks were very close friends and in the 1930s formed a cricket side called the Bohemians and one of the members of the Bohemians was Don Bradman. And they would play what they used to call second class games and play exhibition matches around New South Wales and where ever.

What happened one day, I was talking to Geoff Lawson about this and he said, “We should reform the Bohemians and go and play second class matches.” And I said, “Well yeah, except the Bohemians now have a different connotation to what it had in the ‘30s.” And I said, “If we want to get sponsorship or we want to get some sort of notoriety, let’s just call it the Meggs XI?” And for of the last 10 years, the Meggs XI has played a dozen or two dozen matches I suppose. I have never counted them up. I think we have played in Vanuatu, against Vanuatu and we have played over there in the Barossa Valley once. We play again in a month’s time and it is just when we can get everybody together and say, “Well if you have got the airfares to get us there, we will all come over for a couple of days break and play cricket.” Geoff Lawson is in it as I mentioned and Len Pascoe, I don’t know if you have seen the rundown of it at all?

DB: Yes I have. Len Pascoe, he is a bit of a cult figure.
JK: Oh he is. Len is great and Len is probably one of my closest cricketing friends to be honest. He is a mad computer buff and he is always ring me up and trying to sort things out for him on Photoshop and Premiere and mind you, as the years have gone on he phones up less because he probably now knows more than I know. But we see quite a bit of each other and our families are good friends. Merv Hughes is apparently playing with us, so I have been told. Merv came on a couple of games with us to Vanuatu and threatened to come back, but I was going to ring him to see if he wanted to play in this one, but someone got in first and he agreed to it.

DB: I am pretty sure you drew Merv Hughes in a couple strips.
JK: No, the only cricketers I have actually drawn into the strip – I drew Mike Whitney.

DB: That’s right.
JK: Years and years ago when Mike retired, that was a surprise for him because I had known him for a while and we had always been good friends and I thought I would surprise him. And I was going to his testimonial match so I drew him in. You are right, I drew Merv in, but I never actually said it was Merv. With Mike Whitney I said was Mike.

DB: The Mike Whitney strip was, “We’ve got this ring in bowler”.
JK: That’s it.

DB: And I am pretty sure that I saw Merv in at least one.
JK: I did one where I had Ginger metamorphing into a fast bowler. He started out running in as Meggs and then in the course into running in he turned into Merv. I never actually said it was Merv; I just made it look a lot like Merv and in the daily strip. Gee, it must be a long, long while ago. When Merv first got dropped from the Australian side, I did a daily with Ginge lamenting that Merv was no longer in the side.

DB: I think that is pretty much where I knew that there was a big change going on with Ginger Meggs because before that, I think the only other cricketer I had seen mentioned was Don Bradman and now suddenly you are sitting down and talking about Merv Hughes and I thought this is odd.
JK: Well I took the lead from that because Bancks used to put contemporary characters into his strip all the time. Apart from Don Bradman who made an appearance in the ‘30s, he also had Charles Kingsford Smith in it, he also had William Dobell in it and in fact I used to have a list of the real people and these were all friends of his by the way.

DB: Yes.
JK: Bill Dobell was a close mate, he had some dealings with Kingsford Smith and, of course, he played cricket and golf with Bradman. So I thought, well people love seeing that and relating to it. Strangely people have got this funny thing about cartoons that they get a real buzz out of seeing character A and character B’s strip cross over thing, but they also love seeing real people. I haven’t done it too much and again it has mainly been friends that I have done it with. Mike Whitney is one and Merv is another. I often use friends name in the strip and they get a buzz out of it, although the characters don’t look like them.

Some years back when I first started doing the strip, I used to hang around with Mel Gibson quite a bit and so I drew Mel in it. I did him as Mel and as Mad Max in the same strip. Unfortunately in those days my caricatures weren’t what they are now, but none the less, he has the strip on his kid’s walls in Hollywood somewhere he tells me. I also did Molly Meldrum in one, because I had some dealings with Molly Meldrum. For a while there I was doing guest spots on Young Talent Time when I first started and I became very friendly with a young guy called Bevan who used to be on the show and Danni Minogue. They used to write to me and ring me quite often and so I drew both of them into the strip. I think I drew Danni in years ago when she was just a 14 or 13 year old or something.

DB: A little Minogue.
JK: Yeah.

DB: You have sent a whole lot of little Minogue collectors of their nut trying to find that now.
JK: Yeah, it will be there. In fact I think I did her in the first panel with Ginger writing her a love letter if I remember from memory. She used to ring me up all the time and chat away and it goes so far back. I mean she was talking to me on the phone one day and she said, “Oh my sister has just come home, do you want to say hello to her?” And I said, “Oh yeah.” And this voice came on and said, “Hello Mr Kemsley,” and I said, “Hello, what’s your name?” And she said, “Oh Kylie.” “Hello Kylie, how are you?” “I’m good; I’ll put you back to Danni now.” And that was it, you know, this predates Neighbours and all those shows and it must be 17 years ago I suppose.

DB: What do you do with the artwork when you have finished? Do you keep it, do you stock pile it do you auction it or sell it?
JK: Well I used to keep the artwork. I used to do a very traditional big piece of Bristol board and I’d start with the first panel and draw my way down to the bottom panel and do all that. Then I found myself having to scan it in and reduce it and send it off. And I thought how stupid is this? Why not just draw panel by panel, so I started out just on almost photocopy paper just drawing the panels and scanning those in, because they were easier to scan in, an A4 piece of paper and then I assembled it in Photoshop. And then I thought, how stupid is this, just do some rough drawings. So I would just grab a bit of paper and I map out where the strip is going and how it is going to look and I just have a great big bin which I empty every so often, when I can’t draw any more on a piece of paper and I just scan that section in and then I position it to the size and the shape that I want. So I longer have any comic strips. I get asked for them quite often and even from my colleagues. When I go to American in May for the Rubens again, I will be taking over three or four large laser prints of strips that I have mentioned them in or I have done something that they enjoy, so now when people phone up and want an original, the best I can offer them is a laser copy of the one they like. I just don’t have it. On the odd occasion I get people writing to me and wanting a particular daily strip and what I will generally do then is actually redraw that daily strip for them, but they are obviously not as complicated or as busy to do as it is to do you know, a Sunday strip. A daily strip is only about – I draw mine about 20 centimetres by 6 centimetres so you know, it is almost a case of printing it out and putting it on a light box and drawing over it and saying, “There it is.”

Ginger Meggs XI

Chateau Tanuda, Barossa Valley, April 3 - 6 2004

Back row, left to right: Tim Farris, Ron Harrivel, Warwick Adlam, Shane Lee, Wayne Holdsworth, Len Pascoe, Geoff Lawson, Lord Mayor Brian Hurn (umpire), Brian Taber (umpire)
Front Row, left to right: Brad Hughes, John Moses, James Machin, Grant Brown, James Kemsley

Same event, same place, same day, myself with James

GINGER MEGGS© is syndicated in Australia by Jimera Pty.Ltd and is published in over 120 newspapers and magazines in countries including Antigua, Australia, Barbados, Bolivia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, UAE, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Western Samoa

Previous interviews can be
accessed here

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