'Illustrating for Spike'
By Mike Terry
I have been illustrating for over thirty-four years now and I have illustrated all manner of things from posters, adverts and magazines to Children's books and Book Jackets.
It's my book jacket work for Spike Milligan that I have been asked to talk about here. I produced nine cover illustrations for Spike between 1975 and 1984. The first was for 'Rommel Gunner Who' and the last was 'Hitler my part in his Downfall'. I also illustrated a cover for 'The Goon Show Companion', Sphere Books and 'Goon For Lunch' by Harry Secombe, Star Books.
In 1980 I produced a rough' for the cover of Spike's 'Q' annual but this was not accepted and I did no further work on this. I can't remember what the cover looked like in the end.
I had been a fan of the Goon Shows since my teens, it was at that time that the Goon's style of humour came to my notice. So in 1975 when the opportunity to illustrate a cover for Spike Milligan arrived, I jumped at it. This first one was 'Rommel Gunner Who' and the image I produced for this was of Rommel sitting on Spike's head (who only has his head and shoulders appearing out of a hole in the ground).
That was followed by:
'Spike Milligan Book Set' 1976. 'Spike Milligan Record Hits' 1976.
'William McGonagal: The Truth At Last' 1977. 'Monty His Part in My Victory' 1977
'Milligan's Military Memoirs' 1978. 'The Spike Milligan Letters' Edited by Norma Farnes 1978. 'Mussolini His Part In My Downfall' 1984.
During this time I never actually spoke to Spike about his covers, any comments came through the publisher, which was Penguin Books. Most people think that when you do work for books you get to talk to the author but in my case I don't think I have ever had the opportunity, afterwards yes I have occasionally done so. But I did briefly meet him in the 1980's in Folkestone at what I think was a Literature Festival and he was sitting behind a table signing books. I nervously mumbled something about having illustrated some of his book jackets and I wish I could remember what he said but it wasn't what I expected.
The reason I stopped illustrating his jackets was, I think, the fact that he didn't like my caricature of him. I heard that he disliked the way I portrayed his nose, I did try a different approach, but to no avail. Even so, it was a privilege to illustrate the covers of so many of his books.
At the moment I am selling two "original artworks" for two of Spike's books, one is 'Monty His Part in My Victory' (price £700 including VAT) and the other one is I think called 'Milligan's Military Memoirs' (price £500 including VAT), this illustration was for a box set of books (this one has slight damage to the top right-hand corner). If any body is interested I have other artworks for sale such as the 'Round The Horn' cover 1975.
Look forward to hearing from any of you. Keep up the good work, and may I say thank you to Les for inviting me to write this piece for the web site. I'm so glad that there's a GSPS in our midst to keep the old flame flying. All my best to you all
Web site comment:
The illustrations shown here are simple Jpegs and in no way reflect the 'actual' quality of the originals. OK.