Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Terence H. Bave was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, in 1931. Inspired by American films and comics, which Bave sought out at newsagents selling American newspapers, he began drawing at an early age. His general education was disrupted by family moves and being twice evacuated during World War II. Bave estimated he attended eleven schools in as many years.
Returning to London in 1945, Bave took on full time work as a clerical assistant at the Post Office Savings Bank. One day a week he attended the Brook Green Day Continuation School until he was sixteen. It was here that he met Sheila Newton, who subsequently also worked at the Post Office bank.
From filling the margins and covers of his exercise books to posting regular topical cartoons on the Post Office bank notice board, Bave decided to turn his artistic inclinations into a career. At the age of seventeen he joined the Colonial Survey Department as a trainee cartographer, drawing maps with the aid of aerial photography. His first published cartoon was in the department’s magazine, The Drum.
Bave’s combined interest in films and cartoons led to his first professionally published cartoons in the pages of the film magazine Picturegoer and the home movie magazine The Pathescope Gazette. With this success in specialist magazines, Bave sought out others and, by the late 1950s, was also publishing regularly in Do-It-Yourself, TV Times, Fire! and Scooter. In a year, Bave could earn £100 from his cartoons. By then, he had joined a firm of commercial map makers but was contemplating another move. A commission to draw a cartoon design for a dog ointment carton led to an offer of work as a packaging designer for Stable Cartons Ltd.; Bave later moved to C. H. G. Jourdan Ltd. where he successfully designed fancy packaging during the heady days of the psychedelic sixties. At the same time, he became the art editor of The 9.5 Review, put together by enthusiasts of home movies following the demise of The Pathescope Gazette.
In 1967, and still keen to work in comics, Bave targetted Wham!, a recently-launched comic published by Odhams Press. Invited to meet editor Albert Cosser at the publisher’s Long Acre office, he was offered the opportunity to take over the strip “Sammy Shrink”, about a nine-inch-tall boy with normal-sized parents, which was languishing in the lower regions of the popularity charts.
Bave and his wife created their own character, “Baby Whamster”, a half-pager which they also scripted; he proved immediately popular as a mascot for Wham! and “Baby Smasher” was added to the line-up of Wham!’s sister paper, Smash!.
Bave was determined to make a go of comics and used every opportunity to learn more about what his audience wanted, particularly by involving himself in the school attended by his son, Russell (born in 1959). He helped with the school magazine, performed as a ventriloquist at school fetes and wrote a school play.
With the addition of work for annuals and worked sourced locally (including posters, letterheads, leaflets, display advertising, cartoons, etc.), Bave was able to turn freelance. However, Wham! was soon to be merged with Pow!, which promptly folded a few months later. Bave found work on annuals via King Leo Studios but that had all but dried up when the Baves received a letter from Jack Le Grand offering them work on a new paper. This was Whizzer & Chips, a title unlike any other on the market in that it was two comics in one.
Of these, “Me and My Shadow”, in which young ‘Smudger’ Smith is in constant battle with his own shadow, “Puddin’ Tops”, a brother and sister named after their pudding-top hairstyles, and “Karate Kid”, inspired by their son’s taking up of judo lessons, lasted until the mid-1970s.
One of Bave’s rejected ideas, “Eager Beavers”, was picked up by Buster, where it ran for eighteen months. The new comic Cor!! included Bave’s “Donovan’s Dad” and “Andy’s Ants”. In 1970, Bave and his family moved to a bungalow in Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight, where he and Sheila were to live for over forty years.
Promotional issues often involved creating new characters, and Bave’s creativity gave Whizzer & Chips “Jimmy Jeckle and Master Hide”, “The Scarey’s of St. Mary’s” and, most successfully, “The Slimms” in Cor!!, which capitalised on the contemporary slimming craze – although the portly Mum and Dad in the story had no desire to slim; it was their son, Sammy, who tried different ways each week to help them stick to diets or get some exercise. When Cor!! folded in 1973, the strip moved to Whizzer & Chips where it ran until 1979.
Another ‘two-in-one’ comic, Shiver &Shake, featured the spider “Webster” and, after a ghosting the strips on occasion, took over the lead characters of both sections, “Shiver” the ghost and “Shake” the elephant. New for Knockout was “My Bruvver”, in which poor Len is stuck each week with his tearaway younger brother, the little’un. “Sammy Shrink” was revived in Knockout before transferring to Whizzer &Chips and Bave also took over “Desert Fox” in Shiver and Shake and “Odd Ball” in Whizzer &Chips, the latter about a ball that could stretch and morph into any shape. Truly odd, it proved to be one of Bave’s longest-running strips, surviving in Whizzer & Chips until 1990.
The launch of Whoopee in 1974 brought with it two new Bave creations, “Toy Boy” (who, as his name implied, loved toys) and “Stoker, Ship’s Cat”, a hungry cat in the mould of Ginger. Other cat characters from Bave’s pen included “Police Dog and Cat Burglar” (Whizzer & Chips, 1975) and “Scaredy Cat” (Krazy, 1976-78). 1978 saw the creation of “Calculator Kid” for Cheeky Weekly but the late 1970s saw the merging of various papers, leaving Bave contributing only to Whizzer & Chips, Whoopee and various annuals and summer specials as the decade turned. “Barney’s Badges” (Wow!, 1982-83), “Good Guy” (Buster, 1983) and the feature “Top Class Comics” (School Fun, 1983-84) kept Bave busy.
The latter half of the 1980s saw fewer new releases from Fleetway, although Bave continued to contribute new characters, including “Pete’s Pop-Up Book” (Buster, 1985-88), “Double Trouble” (Nipper, 1987, Buster, 1987- ), “Mighty Mouth” (Nipper, 1987; Buster, 1987-90), “Melvyn’s Mirror” (Buster, 1990), “The Figments of Phil’s Imagination” (Buster, 1991-94) and “Imagine” (Buster, 1991).
Fleetway’s line of humour titles shrunk further, Whizzer & Chips finally merging with Buster in 1990 and Buster becoming a fortnightly in 1995, eventually folding in 2000. By then, Bave had established himself with rivals D. C. Thomson, ghosting a number of strips – including ‘Number 13’ and ‘Bash Street Kids’ for Beano before taking over ‘Winker Watson’ in Dandy (1991-2002). Over the next few years, Bave’s creations included ‘The Great Geraldoes’ (Beano, 1992-93), ‘Buster Crab’ (Dandy, 1998), ‘Inspector Horse and Jockey’ (Beano, 1999-2000 – a parody of Inspector Morse) and ‘Baby Herc’ (Dandy, 2003).
Examples of Bave's artwork can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.