New book looks at the life of Charlie ‘Chas’ Grigg, cartoon illustrator behind Korky the Cat and Desperate Dan.
If you grew up in the 50’s or 60’s, then chances are that receiving your favourite comic was a weekly highlight. The Dandy, Beano and The Topper ranked amongst the most popular and were all produced by publishing house, DC Thomson. It may come as a surprise to know that one of Thomson’s premier artists lived and worked quietly in Langley, throughout his prolific career. Acknowledged by comic book aficionados as one of the greatest comic artists the UK has produced, a new book celebrating the life and work of Charlie Grigg has been published by Dr Brian Dakin and the Grigg family.
Charlie Grigg, known to his friends as Chas, was the cartoon artist who drew legends such as Korky the Cat, Desperate Dan, Splodge, Foxy, Willy Nilly and The Red Wrecker amongst many others. Born and bred in the Black Country, Charlie’s flair for drawing became apparent at an early age and his passion for art stayed with him as he grew and left school to work in engineering. The book charts how he was encouraged by his wife Marge, to take the leap into full-time cartoon artistry at the age of 34. He continued to draw for DC Thomson for over 20 years, producing many of The Dandy’s Summer and Christmas annual covers. It is estimated that in his lifetime, he produced over 10,000 illustrations and 1000 covers for The Dandy alone. When he retired in 1983, he turned his hand to illustrating some of the famous ‘saucy seaside’ postcards found in souvenir shops up and down the British coastline. Produced by publishing company Bamforth, many a seaside holiday wouldn’t be complete without sending one of these iconic cards home and they are now collector’s items.
In 2013, Charlie passed away at the age of 97. In his final years, he unfortunately suffered with dementia and although he may have struggled to recognise friends and family, he could still reproduce his famous illustrations perfectly.
His work has inspired local poets, song writers and artists and a retrospective of his work was held at Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery. A Blue Plaque now adorns the school he attended as an infant in Rood End. A quiet and modest man, his family know that he would be a little shy but very proud that his work is finally receiving the recognition it deserves.
The Life of Charlie ‘Chas’ Grigg, The Black Country’s Best Kept Secret is 160 pages packed with anecdotes and memories from Charlie’s family and friends as well as featuring his life story in his own words. It costs just £10 +PP with all proceeds going to The Alzheimer’s Society and other local dementia charities. It is available to order from www.charliegrigg.com.