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Maurice Dodd

Posted: May 11th, 2011

FROM: the Press Gazette

Artist and writer Maurice Dodd, who produced the Daily Mirror cartoon strip The Perishers which ran for for more than 40 years, has died.

Maurice, who was 83, suffered a brain haemorrhage at his home in Shepperton, Middlesex, on New Year’s Eve, and died in hospital without regaining consciousness about four hours later.

He was born and raised in Hackney, East London. After volunteering for the RAF at the outbreak of the Second World War, he was sent off to train as a fitter. Later he managed to join a newly formed Combined Operations unit named the Servicing Commando. With Maurice in that unit was Bill Herbert, who became the cartoon editor of the Daily Mirror soon after being demobilised at the end of hostilities.

After leaving the RAF, Maurice got a government grant to go to art school in Hammersmith, and in 1950 set about trying to earn a living as a freelance. He also joined the Special Air Service, TA, serving for most of the 1950s.

His first full-time job as an artist was working on Britain’s first full-length cartoon film, Animal Farm. When the job ended with completion of the film, he moved into advertising as an artist, but turned to writing, proving his ability when, in 1959, he won a competition for a campaign for Time magazine.

By this time, Bill Herbert had developed The Perishers for the Daily Mirror. But the strip was not doing well, and he asked Maurice to take it over.Maurice produced rough layouts containing ideas and script, which Dennis Collins, the original artist, then turned into finished drawings.

At the same time Maurice continued his career in advertising, which included writing and visualising the awardwinning Clunk-Click seatbelt campaigns starring Jimmy Saville for the Central Office of Information.

In 1980 Maurice left Young and Rubicam, the advertising agency, to concentrate on The Perishers, starting with producing an animated TV series for the BBC, and writing a series of children’s books.

When Dennis Collins retired in 1983 he took over production of the strip from roughs to finished work until 1992.

Maurice also created other characters — Churchmouse, a single-frame cartoon featuring a mouse in a church; Cellmate, a single-frame cartoon devised to support the charity Prisoners Abroad, and Merrymole, who featured in two children’s books he wrote.

In later years Maurice, who had painted in oils at the start of his career — his work was hung in the Royal Academy in 1953, on the first and only time he submitted it — resumed painting, this time working in acrylics.

He was in his studio working on The Perishers the day before he died.

Maurice, who celebrated 60 years of marriage with his wife Daphne a few days before Christmas, leaves a son, Mike Dodd, editor of Media Lawyer and the Press Association’s media law specialist, and three daughters, Catherine, Rosemary and Frances.

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