1) Hello Tony, you’ve had a such prolific career as a full time cartoonist since 1984, from Private Eye, The Times, Punch, Playboy, The Sunday Express, The Spectator, The Sun as well as creating a comic strip Oink and creating the children’s television programme “Round The Bend”, phew that’s quite a CV. Has there been a highlight so far or is that like asking you if you have a favourite child?
I’ve had few really… and you’ve listed a number of them. I suppose my first Private Eye cartoon rates very highly I was so proud to be in there and still am. Oink too was massive… waiting for the first issue, working so hard to get it out there and then seeing the finished edition. John Peel played both songs we wrote for the flexi-disc which was given away with the comic. A song I wrote with Marc Riley on John’s show, that was amazing. Being a Times cartoonist and Punch too. But really there are many highlights and still it continues. I’ve just done a cartoon for Elton John… you never know what the next phone call or email might bring. I love it , I always have and always will.
2) Your former children’s comic “Oink” ran for 3-4 years back in the 80s and was labelled the children’s version of Viz. It had characters such as “Weedy Willy”, “Harry the Head”, “Pete and his Pimple” and “Mr Bignose” and was considered by some as a bad influence on children. Do you think that if “Oink” was to be launched today, it would be deemed less controversial? After all, the BBC in recent years gave us “Dick and Dom in da Bungalow” which revelled in this type of humour. Or, do you think that in our age of political correctness it would still be frowned upon?
I really don’t think Oink could happen today. The freedom we had then doesn’t exist any more. Patrick, Mark and I had a free reign to ask who we wanted to work for Oink. Today it’s all run by accountants and boring management types. Danny Baker was right, they’re killing creativity. We got some amazing people in and their contribution was awesome. I’m proud of Oink, really proud.
Charlie Brooker sent us artwork in when he was a 15 year old-school boy, he worked for us regularly. We just employed people who made us laugh, Ban x, Stringer, Francis etc. Great stuff. We were in the same building as the Happy Mondays and people like that. Eventually, we felt we were a part of the Manchester movement and we were. It did lead to Round The Bend too, which is another amazing story. ps there’s an Oink dedicated facebook page.
3) You worked with Harry Enfield on your “Another pair of Underpants” book. What was it like working with him?
No, Harry just did the intro to the book. I knew Harry from London at the Groucho Club. He’s lovely and very insightful in the intro.
4)”Round The Bend” was a satirical British children’s television show which ran for three series from 1989 to 1991 and was nominated for a RTS award. Would you ever consider writing another children’s television show or do you think children nowadays are just too difficult to please, since they appear to grow up too fast?
I think children just want to be children. Round the Bend was a really popular show, very important I think. I f you look at my website on my comments page it meant so much to people , a big part of their childhood. Also, every episode is on my website as the “powers that be” won’t release it as a DVD, which is a bummer. Children grow up too fast because there is no children’s entertainment anymore. Television and radio don’t cater for them on the main channels. Round the Bend wouldn’t be commissioned now, accountants and managers would be to scared. Their very limited imagination wouldn’t be able to handle it!
5) You are reputed for having a wonderful sense of humour. Who are your favourite comedians and are there any which you would love to work with?
Lots really. Laural and Hardy, Marx brothers, Pythons, Bilko, Peter Kay had his moments and Lee Mack is very funny. I’ve worked with a few, Griff Rhys Jones, Rory McGrath and poet Ian McMillan who is very funny and I’ve worked with Stephen Fry drawing for his blog and the brilliant John Lloyd the genius behind a lot of television comedy. I like working with talented people, it inspires and leads to God knows where.
6) You’ve done a range of greeting cards for Carlton, Hallmark and Paperhouse. With Christmas coming up I don’t suppose that you’ve thought of offering a personalised card service?
I’ve done a number of personalised cards this year and over the years. There’s still time so if anyone out there wants one there’s still time – I work fast!