Bill Tidy – RIP

Famed British comic strip and gag cartoonist Bill Tidy has passed away.

William Edward (Bill) Tidy, MBE

October 9, 1933 – March 11, 2023

The cartoonist was behind strips including The Fosdyke Saga and The Cloggies 

Born in Liverpool, he also helped to set up the British Cartoonists’ Association

Tributes have poured in, with many describing him as ‘talented, witty and warm’

The death of Bill Tidy, who some call “The World’s Greatest Cartoonist” and “UK’s Best-Loved Cartoonist,” is being reported by newspapers throughout Great Britain including The Daily Mail and The Guardian.

Collection: Frank Milner

We’ll spotlight John Freeman’s remembrance for downthetubes:

His early cartoons featured in a variety of newspapers and magazines in the 1950s and 60s, including the Daily Sketch, Sunday Dispatch, Reveille, Weekend, Sunday Chronicle, and Travel World.

In 1966, he was a founder member of the British Cartoonists’ Association, sister organisation to the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation, and was voted Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain’s Humorous Cartoonist of the Year.

His many cartoon strips included “The Cloggies”, which ran from 1967 to 1981 in the fortnightly satirical magazine Private Eye, and in The Listener from 1985 to 1986; and “The Fosdyke Saga” published daily in the Daily Mirror between 1971 to 1984. The strip was a parody of The Forsyte Saga, the novel by John Galsworthy, set in the industrial north instead of a genteel upper-class environment. The Fosdyke family, in sharp contrast, ran a tripe factory in the North west, the strip described as “a classic tale of struggle, power, personalities… and tripe”.

From Yesterday’s Paper a 2015 appreciation of Tidy by John Adcock:

Years later, on March 2, 1971, the front-page of the Daily Mirror proclaimed THE FOSDYKES ARE HERE! The Fosdykes were a Northern Edwardian family who climbed from the depths of the mining industry at Insanitary Cottages, Griddlesbury, to become “rulers of a mighty empire, risking life and limb to spread the gospel of tripe.”

Britain’s greatest comic strip began in 1900 and the plot was to cover two world wars and end in “the world of today.” The idea was to parody a long-running, popular 1960s BBC TV adaptation of John Galsworthy’s classic Forsyte novels, begun in 1906 and collectively published as The Forsyte Saga since 1922.

Few cartoonists are deserving of the descriptive ‘genius’ but Bill Tidy was one of them. For 14 long years, 6 days a week, the long and winding Fosdyke Saga plots moved along at the pace of three panels a day alternating three plotlines at a time. The lives of the huge cast of characters were played out across the globe in the United States, South America, the Sahara, Moscow and Kabul with frequent stops back in Salford, Manchester.

Paul Hudson’s The A to Z of British Newspaper Strips list the following:

Nero (1960s, panel)

Chelm of Tryg2 (1966-67)

The Cloggies (1967-81, 1985-86)

Grimbledon Down (1970-94)

The Fosdyke Saga (1971-85)

The Sporting Spagthorpes (1970s)

Kegbuster (1978-2020)

The Last Chip Shop in England (1981-84)

The Crudingtons (1986)

Stand up Billy Buckitt! (1988-89)

From The Political Cartoon Gallery:

In 1952, Bill Tidy joined the Royal Engineers, serving in Germany, Korea and Japan, where in 1955 he sold his first cartoon to Mainichi, an English-language newspaper. On leaving the army he began freelancing as a cartoonist. In 1957, he became a professional cartoonist and began contributing to Punch. Tidy became well known for his strip cartoons, particularly “The Cloggies”, which ran in Private Eye from 1967 to 1981 and in the Listener from 1985 to 1986, and “The Fosdyke Saga”, which began in the Daily Mirror on 2 March 1971. Tidy has also produced work for the Oldie, New Scientist, Today, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Dispatch, Yorkshire Post, Picturegoer, Daily Sketch, Everybody’s, John Bull, General Practitioner and Tit-Bits.

Another gag cartoon gallery at Chris Beetles.

From Bill Tidy himself:

I started landing spots in national newspapers and being a story teller began to produce 2, 3 and 4 picture gags. Regular features are what most cartoonists are looking for and drawing on TV, which I found easy and enjoyable saw me bringing in a new dimension to my work. The only slightly disconcerting feature was that I was having an odd effect on the Street of Shame!

Nearly every publication in which I appeared shivered and rolled ever! They included the Daily Sketch, Sunday Dispatch, Reveille, Weekend, Sunday Chronicle, Travel World etc.  I was going through Fleet Street like Typhoid Mary!

6 thoughts on “Bill Tidy – RIP

  1. You know, if you published the original art at a larger size, it would open up larger when we clicked on it. As it is now, it’s impossible to read. It would still appear the size it is on your WordPress program, 700 pixels or so, but if clicked on, it would open to the original size. Just a suggestion.

  2. True, you memorialize and give a tribute to those who have passed, yet their art is never given respect. It’s illegible.

  3. David, Andréa, Rob – I can post larger images in the posts (a quarter to a third larger) and will endeavor to do so. I’m still adjusting to the new format and critiques are helpful and welcome.
    Most all of the images can be viewed in a larger size by going to the linked sites (in this case downthetubes and Yesterday’s Papers).
    And please understand that we no longer have Andrews McMeel dollars backing us. Storing those images in a place where they show up supersized when clicked does cost money.

  4. please add a credit line .to read : Collection ;Frank Milner – on the Bill Tidy polar bear /Titanic joke . This colour image was drawn by Bill for the Exhibition of 150 of his works at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool 1986 ( then toured to 10 other galleries in England ,Wales and Scotland ) ,The exhibition catalogue title BILL TIDY drawings 1957 -1986 published by National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside and written by Frank Milner is the fullest illustrated account of Bill Tidy’s work and includes examples of all his strips and dozens of published and unpublished single cartoons for the many publications he worked for . I asked Bill to re-do the Titanic gag for the catalogue cover ,it having first been done in black and white for Punch magazine . I think we both thought it was one of his best jokes and he later adopted the punch line as the title of his autobiography .

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