WICKS Alfred (Ben)
Mavis & Bill, back cover.
“Actually, I’m rotten at drawing.” The Hecklers: 254.
Alfred Wicks was born 1 Oct. 1926 in London England.
He was a self-taught illustrator who quit school at 14 and worked successively as a bootmaker, shipping clerk and barrow salesman. He joined the British Army. After the war, he learned to play the saxophone and clarinet, and eventually became a professional musician with Roy Keaton’s orchestra aboard the Cunard luxury liner Queen Elizabeth. The name “Ben” was a pseudonym: one bandleader nicknamed him after Benny Goodman and the name stuck. Wicks took a few art lessons at London’s Camberwell Art School, but from his own account it was evening classes and he only stayed two weeks.
While working a a window cleaner between gigs, he meet Bill Coates a fellow musician who joined the Canadian army entertainment corps and wound up in Calgary. He was the inspiration for Wicks and his wife Doreen to immigrate to Canada, and to Calgary. didn’t seriously consider drawing until he immigrated to Calgary in 1957. While with the band of The Lord Strathcona Horse, a Canadian army unit, he sold his first cartoon to The Saturday Evening Post. Now came a time to decide whether he should continue a career in music or switch to cartooning. He and Doreen decided cartooning held more promise and because of greater opportunities in that field moved to Toronto. From this base he freelanced for The Saturday Evening Post and drew a cartoon for Nathan Cohen’s theatre review column in Toronto Star. With an income to small to support a family, the Wicks returned to Calgary, to a steady income from the band Lord Strathcona Horse and to drawing cartoons in his spare time. He began experimenting with editorial cartoons and sold one to The Albertan. It appeared as in one column size on the front page instead of the editorial page because the paper already had an editorial cartoonist. His cartoons became a regular feature at The Albertan, and were soon being picked up by other western papers. About a year after his return to Calgary Wicks again visited Toronto and The Toronto Telegram where he pitched his idea of a one column cartoon on the front page of the paper. The Telegram Syndicate gave him a three year contract and moved his family back to Toronto. The feature was eventually picked up by more than 200 newspapers in North America and Europe. When the Telegram ceased operations 30 October 1971, Wicks moved to the Globe & Mail.
“The Outcasts” began as a request from New York to come up with a rival idea to be used by newspapers that didn’t carry “Doonesbury”. An agreement in principal was reached but the exchange of money for delivery of the strips got in the way. Meanwhile, Wicks began using the idea in a Canadian setting with Trudeau as the central figure. It was distributed by the Toronto Star Syndicate. It was in fifty Canadian newspapers by the time the cheque arrived from New York. The strip never caught on in the U.S. but was immensely successful in Canada. Although the exact dates for the strips beginning and end cannot be found it was in newspapers at least by 22 Sept. 1975 and was still appearing 28 Dec. 1991.
A prolific author, cartoonist and entertainer, he wrote and illustrated numerous books, some of which are listed below. He wrote a series of books to promote family literacy, also see below. Wicks has also written a number of books concerning the effects of World War II on ordinary people’s lives, including No Time to Wave Goodbye (1988), The Day They Took the Children (1989) and Nell’s War (1990). He had his own television program, experimented with animated cartoons, was a major force behind the Canadian Chess Challenge, and teamed up with his wife, Doreen, a citizenship court judge, to establish several charitable foundations to fight poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986.
He died in Toronto, 10 September 2000.
BOOK GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
Content cartoon editorial:
Portfoolio, The Year 85 In Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux & Alan King. Writ., Charles Gordon. Ludcom Inc. 1985.
Portfoolio, The Year 86 In Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux. Writ., Charles Gordon. Ludcom Inc. 1986.
Portfoolio, The Year 87 In Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux . Ludcom Inc. 1987.
1988 Portfoolio, The Year In Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux . Writ., Charles Gordon. Eden Press. 1988.
Portfoolio: 1989 in Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux . Writ., Charles Gordon. Macmillan of Canada, 1989.
|Portfoolio …: The Year in Canadian Caricature. Ed., G. Badeaux . Writ., C. Gordon. Macmillan of Canada, …|
|6: 1990.||7: 1991.||8: 1992.||9:1993.|
|Portfoolio …: The Year’s Best Canadian Editorial Cartoons. Ed., Guy Badeaux . Writ., Ken MacQueen Macmillan of Canada, ….|
|10: 1994.||11: 1995.||12: 1996.|
|Portfoolio …. The Year’s Best Canadian Editorial Cartoons. Ed., Guy Badeaux . Writ., Jay Stone
Macmillan of Canada, …
|13, 1997.||14, 1998.||15, 1999.||16, 2000.|
BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:
Content panel & Cover book front:
Wicksys Banks. Fenn Publishing Co. Ltd., no date..
Wicksys Doctors. Fenn Publishing Co. Ltd., no date.
Wicksys Love. Fenn Publishing Co. Ltd., no date.
Wicksys Offices. Fenn Publishing Co. Ltd., no date.
Wicksys Sport.. Fenn Publishing Co. Ltd., no date.
Content panel & strip & Cover book front:
Ben Wicks and Company The Third Cartoon Treasury. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1990.
The Best of Wicks. Co-car., Vincent Wicks. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1993.
The First Ben Wicks Treasury. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1985.
The Second Ben Wicks Treasury. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1987.
Wicks. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1980.
Content collection strip & Cover book front:
Mavis & Bill. Methuen Publications, 1986.
Ben Wicks, 1983.
Ben Wicks 1984, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
Content public service & Cover:
The Elementary Safety Book For Children. Writ., unknown. Edmonton: Regional Maple Leaf Communications Inc., 1993.
Master of None. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1995.
WRITER & ILLUSTRATOR:
BOOK TEXT & GRAPHIC:
Content humour & Cover book front:
Ben Wicks’ Book of Losers. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1979.
Ben Wicks’ Canada. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1976.
Ben Wicks Dogs. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1983.
Ben Wicks’ Etiquette. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1981.
Ben Wicks More Losers. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1982.
Ben Wicks So You Want To Be Prime Minister. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1984.
Ben Wicks’ Women. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1978.
Ben Wicks Meets Bobby Fisher – Fischer Wins. Publication unknown.
Content instruction & Cover book front:
Ben Wicks’ Born To Read. Ben Wicks, 1995..
Ben Wicks’ Born To Read and Write.: Ben Wicks, 1996..
Ben Wicks’ Born To Read, Write & Count. Ben Wicks & Associates, 1997.
Ben Wicks’ Born To Read and Cook. Ben Wicks & Associates, 1998.
Ben Wicks’ Born To Read and Share On Line. Ben Wicks & Associates, 2000..
Ben Wicks’ Born To Read and Surf. Ben Wicks & Associates, 1999.
Ben Wicks’ Life Insurance For Senoirs. With Vincent Wicks. Ben Wicks & Associates, 1996.
Ben Wicks On Mutual Funds. Ben Wicks & Associates, 1994.
Touring and Travel, Dec. 1983: “Ben Wicks In Search Of Christmas”: 6-8.
TV Guide. 24 Dec. 1983: “Ben Wicks Recalls Messages of Christmas Past”: 23, 25, 27-28.
The Expositor [Brantford], 28 Nov. 1985: “Drawing attention to world’s hungry”: 2.
Master of None. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1995.
The First Ben Wicks Treasury. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1985: 7.
The Hecklers. Writ. & Ed.., Peter Desbarates & Terry Mosher. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1979: 253.
Globe & Mail, 28 Nov. 1981: “Ben Wicks: a little humour into our lives.” Writ., Jack McClelland..
The Expositor [Brantford], 1 May 1985: “Medical supplies relief agency operated by wife of cartoonist.”: 12.
Hustak, Alan. “Alfred Wicks.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. Online
Newspaper unknown, date 23 Sept. 1975.
Wicksys Sport.no place. Fenn Publishing Co. Ltd., no date.
“Ben Wicks In Search Of The Spirit Of Christmas.” Touring & Travel, Dec. 1983: 7.