Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Phil Gascoine R.I.P.

Just heard the sad news that Phil Gascoine has died after a short illness.

Though possibly not a name familiar to many current comics fans, Phil was one of those guys who'd been around forever and seemed to have drawn everything and worked for just about everyone; UK girls comics such as Bunty, School Friend and Jinty; UK boys comics such as Battle Action; mainstream US comics such as The Punisher; even Vertigo with Shade The Changing Man.

Left: Phil Gascoine at Bristol Expo in 2005. Photo: John Freeman

I mainly remember Phil from his days on the committee of the SSI* where he served as newsletter editor and treasurer, as well as acting as liaison with the London Sketch Club who hosted the regular SSI meetings for many years. In those days the SSI operated a strict membership policy, with full membership available only to full-time professionals; as a lowly Associate member I quickly became used to being looked down on by many of the older members, but Phil never drew such distinctions; he always had the same cheerful, friendly welcome for everybody, and in contrast to the weary cynicism of many of his contemporaries, always seemed to bubble with enthusiasm and good cheer.

The last time I saw Phil was in Bristol in 2005, and he looked just the same as ever - if not even more chipper. I was signing, and he poked his head through the crowd to say hello. I asked him what he was up to.
"Polish pony comics mate, lovin' it!" he grinned, and vanished into the crowd. It was the same big grin you see in the photo there, and it's how I'll always remember him.

There's an interview with Phil, along with tributes by fellow creators, at Down The Tubes.

•Society for Strip Illustration, now CCG (Comic Creators Guild).

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