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Hargreaves Birds Life-cover

It's a Bird's Life, 1965

Harry Hargreaves was born in Manchester on 9 February 1922, and drew from a young age, contributing cartoons to his school magazine, The Arrow, at the age of twelve. He published his first cartoon in the Manchester Evening News in 1936, aged only fourteen. His parents separated when he was sixteen, and he left school and joined an interior design company, while studying architecture, mechanical drawing and furniture design at Manchester School of Art. He then briefly became a trainee engineer, working for Rolls-Royce, Ford and Kestrel Engines among others, before joining Manchester art agency Kayebon Press in 1939, where he assisted Hugh McNeill on his strips for The Dandy and The Beano.

In 1940 he joined the RAF Signals, where he contributed cartoons to Blighty and other magazines, and designed the official Christmas cards for RAF Ceylon Postal Services. He served in India, Ceylon and Persia. After the war he joined Gaumont-British Animation as a trainee animator, where he met his future wife, Penny Vickery. They married in 1948. When the studio was disbanded in 1950, he went freelance, working for the Amalgamated Press' comics, where he created "Moko the Mischievous Monk" (1950), "Harold Hare" (1950-) and "Ollie the Alley Cat" (1951-) for The Sun, "Scamp" (1951-) for Comet, and "Don Quickshot" (1952) for Knock-Out.

He joined the Marten Toonder studios in Amsterdam in 1953, where he drew the Dutch newspaper strip Panda, which was syndicated all over Europe, for seven years. He returned to England in 1954, drawing the strip from there, while also freelancing for British publications, including drawing "Terry the Troubadour" (1954) for TV Comic.

He began contributing to Punch in 1957, where from 1958 he drew "[[It's a Bird's Life", a series of wordless comic strips which ran for 17 years and was reprinted in two book collections. A colleague, Alexander Frater, said of him that he was "one of the few artists extant who can make a garden sparrow look thoroughly, rottenly drunk." In 1961 he moved into television, developing am animated character, GoGo the Fox, for the pop music show Discs-a-GoGo, which ran for five years and was syndicated across Europe.

In 1968 he created a daily strip for the London Evening News called The Hayseeds, a gang of talking animals inspired by Walt Kelly's American strip Pogo, although less political. The strip was briefly dropped by the paper in 1974, but reader reaction got it reinstated, and it ran until the paper closed in 1980.

He also published several books of cartoons on various subjects, notably cricket, and illustrated books, including a 1983 edition of Kenneth Graeme's The Wind in the Willows. He illustrated Paddington Bear stories for the BBC's Blue Peter annuals from 1969 to 1980, and worked in advertising and greeting card and soft toy design. He retired in the early 1980s and died in Yeovil, Somerset, on 12 November 2004.

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