The last item (bar a bonus insert) in this series was on European comics. Two of the all-time great children’s creators could have been covered there. It’s worth noting that comics have been a medium aimed overwhelmingly at children, especially in anglophone countries, for most of their existence, so unsurprisingly some of the best cartoonists ever were in that market.

Rene Goscinny

I won’t say too much about him, because everyone knows Asterix (with artist Uderzo, who continued writing it after Goscinny died). His writing is a constant delight not just on this, but on Ompa-Pa (a Native American; artist Uderzo again), Iznogoud (a vizier in a 1001 Nights world; artist Tabary) and especially cowboy Lucky Luke, with Morris. (Asterix is easy to find, but the others are less common, though there are English-language editions.)


You’ll all know Tintin too, of course. Beautifully crafted comics, with an immensely influential clear-line style and very entertaining adventures. (Fairly easy to find, of course.)

Carl Barks

Barks is less generally famous, but rightly revered within comics. He wrote and drew Donald Duck comics from 1942 to ’68, creating a few notable characters, in particular Uncle Scrooge. No credits in those days, but fans learned to recognise the “good duck artist” and seek out his work. He was a superb storyteller, one of the best ever, both in the flow of his panels and the quality of his narrative. His stories were obviously meant for kids, but I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t enjoy them immensely. (Comic shops can sell you plenty of Barks collections.)

John Stanley

Even less well known, but a great writer in particular. He wrote and often drew Little Lulu, a strip about the antics of its young heroine. It’s aimed at an even younger audience than the series above, but it’s still an absolute joy to read. (Dark Horse have published a series of collections of his work on this.)

British cartoonists

Much as I love the work of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Mike McMahon and others, for me the greatest British comic talent ever was Leo Baxendale, creator of (among other things) The Bash Street Kids. He was as energetic and uninhibited a cartoonist as you’ll find almost anywhere, and the densely packed gags and high speed of his best work are glorious. Almost as good are a couple more from the same great era of the Beano and Dandy: Ken Reid (Roger the Dodger, Jonah) is even more virulent; and Davy Law (Dennis the Menace (UK version), Beryl the Peril) has a ragged energy all his own. All three started at DC Thomson in the early ’50s. An older great would be Dudley Watkins, famous in Scotland for Oor Wullie and The Broons, best known elsewhere for Lord Snooty. (Sadly, the great old work of these people is not easily available – DC Thomson have never shown any interest in collecting the vintage work for a fan market.)