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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jack Potter (1921-2014)

I'm sorry to hear that Jack Potter, a long-time letterer who worked on Valiant, Buster, 2000AD and many other comic titles, died on Sunday, 5 October 2014, aged 93.

Born in 1921, John S. Potter began his career in an art studio in the 1930s, much of the work involving lettering and design from simple penmanship to carving wood. He served in the Air Force for 7 years, later finding employment with an advertising agency for 2-3 years after the war. He worked for Mick Anglo's Gower Street Studios in the late 1940s, occasionally drawing some of the humour strips which Anglo provided for Paget Publications.

He left Anglo to work for the Amalgamated Press and concentrated on lettering for the rest of his career, having debuted in Thriller Comics in 1953, although he briefly turned to drawing for Schoolgirls Picture Library in 1960. His lettering could be found in the pages of Tiger, Lion, Knockout, Valiant (where he lettered "Captain Hurricane", "Raven on the Wing" and "The Steel Claw" amongst many other strips), Buster and 2000AD. Outside of comics, Potter was also lettered newspaper strips, including Sydney Jordan's "Jeff Hawke" and Harry Bishop's "Gun Law", and educational books.

Always uncredited, his name only became known to a wider audience through his work in 2000AD, although much of his initial work on "Invasion", "Flesh" and "Dan Dare" predated the arrival of credit boxes. He was also an early letterer on "Judge Dredd", notably the "Robot Wars" and "The Day the Law Died" storylines.

"Jack Potter was THE man, when it came to lettering! He was the man we all strived to match … but could never quite!" recalls Derek Pierson. "Johnny Aldrich and I and a few others admired his expertise and we used to copy every letter of the alphabet to try and capture his style."

"Jack was a lovely guy, with a keen sense of humour, quite apart from being a superb balloon letterer," says Gil Page.  "I never knew him to make a mistake and he always said he could letter two pages while listening to the radio and afterwards couldn't tell you a word that he'd done!  I worked with him from the late fifties until he "retired".  He said he was 93, had had a yellow card because of a touch of cancer and was just waiting for the red!  He was also miffed because he had decided to get rid of his car.

"There's not a lot about him that I can tell you, except that I know he was a radio scriptwriter for some of the big names of the times, so there was more to him than met the eye." 

David Hunt writes: "As an Editor I had the pleasure of commissioning countless lettering tasks for Jack Potter to complete and, truthfully, I rated his lettering style as one of the best in the business. Jack could always be relied upon to complete a thoroughly professional job and I felt the artwork was always enhanced after he'd added the words to complete the finished pages.

"Without fail, Jack would visit us on a weekly basis to deliver his finished lettering and to pick up new scripts/artwork for him to complete in the following seven days. Easy-going, friendly, a ready wit and with a smile on his face, it was always a pleasure to have Jack in the office."

Potter lived in Hawley, Surrey, and Bearsted, Kent—where he was one of the founder-members of the Bearsted and Thurnham Bowls Club—before retiring to Bexhill-on-Sea.

He is survived by his wife, Doris, whom he married in 1948, and son Steve, who was also a noted letterer for Fleetway, Quality and Marvel UK.


Jonathan Fisher said...

Jack Potter, letter droid extraordinare,no one could say "Aieee!" Or "Drokk it!" Better than he.Farewell to you J.P.

Lew Stringer said...

I'm sorry to hear this. Amongst his many pages, Jack lettered most of my Tom Thug and Vampire Brats pages in Buster in the 1990s. I was very pleased to have such a veteran talent lettering my work and he always did a great job, even when it was close to deadline. RIP Jack.