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Sunday, June 14, 1998 Published at 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK


Andy Capp's creator dies

Sloppy, wasteful and sexist: Andy Capp's "charm" shone through

The cartoonist, Reg Smythe, who created the working class comic strip hero Andy Capp, has died of cancer.

He was 81 and had drawn the strip for the Daily Mirror for more than 40 years.

Syndication rights propelled Andy, and his long-suffering wife Flo, to international fame. They appeared in 1,700 publications in 48 countries.

The flat-capped northerner even made it as the subject of a stage musical and a television series.

[ image: The cartoonist at work]
The cartoonist at work
But even uncompromising Andy had to make a few concessions to national type. In France he was Andre Chapeau, in Germany Willi Wakker, and in Italy Angelo Capello.

He first appeared in the northern editions of the Daily Mirror in 1957 but soon became a national fixture.

Andy's chauvinistic manners and idle ways look increasingly out-dated in these days of political correctness but his roguish charm made him a resilient character.

Sloppy, wasteful, sexist and often the worse for drink, Andy Capp inhabited a world which rarely looked beyond the local pub where he drank and the settee at home where he slept off the after-effects.

The character was modelled on Mr Smythe's father and Flo was based on his mother Florence. His other main influences were memories of his childhood in Hartlepool where he died early on Sunday morning.

[ image: Reg Smythe puts the finishing touches to Andy and Flo]
Reg Smythe puts the finishing touches to Andy and Flo
In an interview Mr Smythe said of Andy Capp: "He was just there waiting: the next door neighbour, the bloke in the local ... Andy Capps are all over the place."

An intensely private man, the artist spent three days a week working on Andy cartoons at the home he shared with his wife Vera, who died last year.

Mirror cartoon editor Ken Layson paid tribute to his Mr Smythe.

"He was a one off. Reg was so prolific there is at least a year's supply of cartoons left," he said.

"He will be sadly missed all over the world, but especially in the North East where he was a major celebrity."

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