don lawrence true brit
After leaving art school, Don, what did you do? Well I had decided to do strip work after an ex-student had come back to the college to show off a page of cowboy artwork that he had done. So I went to see a man called Ted Holmes at Amalgamated Press who gave me a tryout... which I failed!!
[laughter] I thought it was going to be easy you know, but of course it’s not easy. Anyway he paid me for the art and he said, “Well look, why don’t you try Mick Anglo,” who was the bottom of the bottom, you know, you can’t get any lower than Mick Anglo. [laughter] So I did and he paid me a pound a page for black-and-white and he gave me a tryout and he said okay, and that’s how I started.
A pound a page doesn’t sound very much. No, and I didn’t realise it was only a pound a page at first. He asked me to draw a sample page of Marvelman flying over a bunch of skyscrapers and I went home and spent a whole bloody week drawing that sample page with all of the windows in the skyscrapers. It was bloody murder. I almost died when I found out he was only going to pay me a pound a page!
So this was the first real paying job in the comics business that you had? Not really, I also did a small little magazine called Dolphin for a gentleman called Mr. Feldman who lived in Meadowvale who was a tailor, and he wanted a magazine to advertise his business, and he was my first paying customer. Which was great, because up until I got that job I had been really struggling.
It’s a strange looking little magazine, Don, and I can’t see what it had to do with a tailoring business. [laughs] It had nothing at all to do with tailoring. He just wanted to do it, and he handed them out to his clients. I did a few stories for it, but once I started on ‘Marvelman’ I really didn’t have time for it anymore. So once you started on ‘Marvelman’, Don, were you thrown in at the deep end? Or did you start off by erasing pencils or inking? No, he just sort of said “off you go” and he gave me a few scripts to start with, but after a while they dried up and I started writing my own stories.
Did you know anything about comics when you started, Don? You know, were you an avid comic reader when you were a kid? Well it was war time, you see, and there really weren’t any comics around. I remember getting my hands on a Canadian comic, it was a big one, and how I got hold of it I don’t remember, but it had ‘Dick Tracy’ in it and a lot of the heroes of that time. I mean, I just loved those types of comics, but I never thought about being a comic or strip artist. It was the fact that at art school abstract impressionism was ‘in’ and I never really liked it as I was a ‘realist’ painter, and I was completely out of my depth. I just thought that I had to use what talent I had and comic strips seemed to fit. I didn’t want to go into advertising, I knew that. I had gone up to London to show a company my stuff even before I went into the army, and they said, you know, “Do your service and come back and see us.”
So you never really did any commercial work? Well, I did a bit, but not much, I did a game cover design for Milton Bradley called ‘The Temple Raiders’. But they would come down every couple of weeks to make little changes and they were so picky, I thought, “Well I’m not going to do this again.” I also did a big poster to advertise Hong Kong, and got paid very well for it, but in the end they decided not to use it.
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Published on Sep 4, 2011
Newly remastered Digital Edition of GEORGE KHOURY’s definitive book on the rich history of British Comics Artists, their influence on the US...