Thursday 25 November 2004
Roy Davis was not only a gifted cartoonist, comic-strip artist and illustrator who drew for
Punch and many other publications, but also a prolific and award-winning scriptwriter who wrote more than 10,000 stories for children's magazines and was still working until he was well into his seventies.
Frank Roy Davis, cartoonist, comic artist and scriptwriter: born London 9 October 1921; married 1944 Eileen Spratt (three daughters); died Southend-on-Sea, Essex 11 November 2004.
Roy Davis was not only a gifted cartoonist, comic-strip artist and illustrator who drew for Punch and many other publications, but also a prolific and award-winning scriptwriter who wrote more than 10,000 stories for children's magazines and was still working until he was well into his seventies.
Born in Fulham, south-west London, in 1921, Frank Roy Davis was the elder of two children of Charles Davis, a verger at the Brompton Oratory Church in Knightsbridge, and his wife May. Roy studied at West Kensington Central School, London, where he spent his last four years learning shorthand, typing, book-keeping and commercial practices, intending to pursue a clerical career.
However, he had always had an aptitude for drawing - indeed his headmaster had predicted that one day he would be published in Punch - and his first job was as a general studio artist with the celebrated London wallpaper designers Arthur Sanderson & Sons (from 1938). While working for Sanderson's he had his first cartoon published in the weekly magazine Answers in 1939.
He joined the RAF in 1940 and was commissioned in the RAF Regiment in 1944, serving in Britain, France, Holland, Germany, India and Java. Demobbed in 1946, Davis returned to Sanderson's briefly but, fed up with painting nothing but flowers for six weeks, left to join J. Arthur Rank's newly founded Gaumont British Animation studio in Cookham, near Maidenhead, Berkshire. Here he worked as a "storyman", helping to devise scripts for animated films.
On the demise of G.B. Animation in 1950 Davis moved to Eastwood, near Southend-on-Sea, in Essex, and became a freelance joke and strip cartoonist - working for such publications as Punch, Tatler, Tit-Bits, London Opinion, the Daily Sketch, the Daily Mirror and Sporting Record - and also wrote and drew strips for juvenile publications such as Mickey Mouse Weekly, Sun, Comet and Sunny Stories. In 1964 he joined the staff of IPC Magazines, writing numerous scripts for such children's comics as Whizzer & Chips, Shiver & Shake, Knockout, Princess Tina, Buster and others. He left IPC in 1974 but continued to produce scripts on a freelance basis for the company until he retired in 1992.
Influenced by Heath Robinson and Rowland Emett, he worked mainly in pen and indian ink, and his joke and strip cartoons were often captionless. His early drawings for Punch often featured doll-like figures, especially toy-soldier guardsmen, which the Punch historian R.G.G. Price said had "some of the appeal of Leech's Brook-Green Militia-Man" of the 1840s. However, as well as drawing and writing, he also made scrap-metal sculptures and appeared twice on BBC TV's Vision On programme with some of these.
One of the founders of the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain, he was later also a member of the British Cartoonists' Association.
A very private person and softly spoken, Roy Davis was a keen gardener and walker until stopped short by a back operation.
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