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fred the red


furry animals


Malcolm Douglas: main page
page header: history

I've worked as a freelance illustrator for almost longer than I care to remember. Once upon a time I was J T Dogg, and I wrote and drew the adventures of such mythical and long-forgotten folk as Mickey Drivel (for the National Union of Students) and the students of Dog College (for the University of Aston); I chronicled the exploits of the pirates of the Jolly Roger for Knave for a time, and then moved on to Fleetway's fabled OINK! in company with Tony Husband, Mark Rodgers, Patrick Gallagher, Lew Stringer and Mark Riley (now the famous "Lard"). My word, we had fun.

Fleetway were never quite able to decide who they were trying to sell the comic to, however, so after a few years in the sun our piggy endeavours sank beneath the horizon and we all moved on again.

In my case this turned out to be to "adult" comics, some more successful than others; including Brain Damage, Gas, Comic Strip and UT; the last an extraordinarily brave attempt by Kev F Sutherland to produce a quality comic funded by the Sunday Sport. A doomed enterprise once the Sport started to interfere in editorial policy, but great fun while it lasted. By now I was using my real name: it was clear that I was never going to be asked to draw the comic version of Hamlet, for which I had been saving it.

I did a couple of years with Fiesta. Of my time with Zit I need say little, except that it's quite a novelty the first time somebody goes to the trouble of liquidating a business in order to avoid paying you.

Somehow or other I got involved in football stories, usually working with Tony Husband. After Red Card and the short-lived England magazine (the team didn't last long in the world cup that time) we did potted player biographies for Glory Glory Man United; and then United re-branded their mascot Fred the Red. For the next 5 years I worked almost entirely on him. Something of a love-hate relationship, I have to say, but the little fellow certainly paid the rent and supported my book-buying habit for a good while.

United's corporate restructuring put an end to all that, though. Having lived with football for a fair old while (and having, it must be said, no interest in it whatever) I wasn't too sad to see the end of it.

By that time, the bottom, so to speak, had dropped out of comics. Beyond the eternal re-cycling of such as the Beano and 2000AD, little is produced for the traditional mass market in Britain. What was I going to do next? Spend a couple of years putting together a fashionable 'graphic novel'?

Paying the rent was a bit more important, frankly. I wound up getting a 'real' job (by accident; I thought I was applying for a temporary one) and, three years on, I'm still doing it. I don't miss drawing one bit, and spend my free time running websites for various folk arts organisations and producing books for the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

I'll take up the old pen again one day, I expect. It's in the blood, and cannot forever be denied. When I do, though, it'll be on my own terms. No more hack work.

This site was originally intended as a marketing exercise. Since I no longer draw for a living, it will remain as a personal archive, to which I will add old material as time allows and the mood takes me.