Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Bill Ritchie 1931 - 2010
Sad news today. I've just heard that humour comics artist Bill Ritchie passed away a few days ago, on Monday January 25th.
Born in 1931 Bill's style will be familiar to everyone who grew up with DC Thomson humour comics, specifically The Beezer and Sparky. His most popular character has to be Baby Crockett, which he illustrated for The Beezer and also drew a separate strip featuring the character for younger readers in the pages of Bimbo. (See example above, from 14th August 1965.)
Bill had a clear and charming penline that was easy on the eye and always a pleasure to view. His distinct style was perfect for Sparky when it launched 45 years ago and his strip The Moonsters soon found itself promoted from the back cover to the front. This example from issue 51, January 8th 1966:
Later, when Sparky was revamped, Thomsons retained Bill's services for the cover slot, and for several years he illustrated Barney Bulldog for the comic. This sample is from No.398, September 2nd 1972:
These are just three examples of his long career and the impressive number of pages he produced over that time. He was even still working at the age of 78, drawing cartoons for Thomson's newspaper The Weekly News and, as Willie Ritchie, illustrating children's books for GWPublishing.
Reporting the sad news on the Comics UK forum, Beano sub-editor Iain McLaughlin wrote: "Bill's enormous catalogue of work will be well known to every British comics fan. For those of us who worked with Bill, he was one of the folk you always looked forward to seeing. You knew you'd have a good laugh and an interesting chat with Bill. His knowledge of comics and artists was extraordinary. And he was just a really nice guy, always gracious and helpful. A genuinely nice man who will be missed greatly by all of us who worked with him."
Bill Ritchie's work was always gently amusing and very individualistic. The simplicity of the line disguised the absolute craftsmanship and skilled composition of his pages. There's no mistaking his style and it was always of the highest professional standard. Over the decades his work must have entertained millions of children, and that's a proud achievement that I hope will bring some comfort for his family in this time of loss.