Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Bill Mevin (1922-2019)

Bill Mevin who worked in comics for over fifty years and, prior to that, was involved in animation, died on 30 December 2019, aged 97. He had been hospitalised for some weeks.

He was born Wilfred D. Mevin in West Derby, Lancashire, the fourth (of five) child of William J. Mevin (1888?-1951) and his wife Elsie Marion (nee Cox, 1891-1987), who had married in Birkenhead in 1915.

Mevin studied at Liverpool Scool of Art. In the late 1940s, he joined Gaumont British, the studio set up by David Hand, as a trainee film animator. G-B Animation closed its doors in 1949 and Mevin contributed artwork to a 1/- flicker booklet about a bear named Brumas (1949), part of the Comic Movies Flicker Book series. He went on to work for Batchelor and Halas, contributing to The Power to Fly (1954), an advertising film made for Anglo-Iranian Oil Company charting the history of aviation from Daedalus to jets, directed by Bob Privett, and to the UK's first full-length animated feature Animal Farm (1954).

When the studio closed, Mevin joined the Sunday Chronicle as a topical cartoonist, working for them for six months until the paper was merged into Empire News in 1955. He also began freelancing to comics, contributing 'Sammy and his Speed Sub' to Swift (1954-57) and 'Wee Sporty' to Express Weekly (1956-60), along with various strips to Girl and Swift annuals.

He worked for many years on TV Comic, drawing 'Lenny the Lion' from 1957 (on the cover in 1958-60). He produced colour centre-spread strips 'Supercar' (1961-64), 'Space Patrol' (1964-65) and  'Dr Who' (1965-66). While his semi-cartoony strips were a good match for the first two, Mevin was not a good fit for the more realistic artwork required for the Who strip. Roger Noel Cook, one of its writers, lateer said "Bill Mevin was a lunatic appointment to draw Doctor Who. Bill was a whiz-bang brilliant cartoonist who I went on to work with extremely well on 'Popeye' but straight artwork was just not him!"

From thereon, Mevin was kept busy with cartoon strips that was more suited his style, including 'World Cup Willie' (1966), 'Droopy', 'Bugs Bunny', 'Huckleberry Hound', 'Popeye', 'Barney Bear', and 'Buzby'.

He also contributed to Pippin ('The Pogles', 'Bill and Ben', 'The Herbs', 'Morph'), Whizzer & Chips ('Happy Families') and Whoopee ('Dads and Lads') in the period 1966-85.

When the comic market began to shrink, Mevin acquired an agent who suggested he produce a strip spoofing overblown American soap operas like Dallas and Dynasty, although it featured a wide range of television personalities, from Terry Wogan to Mr Spock. Entitled 'The Soapremes' (fl.1986-87), the strip was picked up by the Daily Mail.

In November 1992, Mevin took over the artwork on 'The Perishers' for the Daily Mirror, which he drew for many years; written by Maurice Dodd (who had also worked on Animal Farm) and originally drawn by Dennis Collins, 'The Perishers' had been a daily institution since 1958; Collins had retired in 1983 and Dodd had drawn the strip himself for some years before Mevin came on board. The strip finally came to an end in 2006 following Dodd's death on 31 December 2005.

Mevin returned to 'Doctor Who' to produce two covers for Doctor Who Classic Comics (#7, 27 May 1993; #15, 15 Jan 1994). He was interviewed for the feature ‘Stripped for Action’ which appeared on the DVD release of The Time Meddler (2008).

In retirement, Mevin continued to draw pictures for Perishers fans and charity auctions and wrote a novel, Peggy (2016) about a young girl and a flying horse.

He was predeceased by his wife, Lilian (nee Archbold), whom he married in 1953. They lived in Bromley, Kent, until her death in 2012, aged 87.

An interview with Mevin is due to appear in Vworp! Vworp! #4.

Further information: Down the Tubes In Memoriam.

1 comment:

  1. While 'Peggy' was published in 2016, Bill mentioned it had been written and illustrated some years before, when in better health.



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