William (Bill) Ritchie, cartoonist and illustrator

Born: 1 August, 1931, in Glasgow. Died: 25 January, 2010, in Friockheim, Angus, aged 78.

WILLIAM Ritchie, whose cartoon drawings were familiar to readers of children's comics for more than 50 years, has died suddenly at his home in Friockheim, Angus.

Known variously as Bill or Willie, he had illustrated cartoon story pages for most of DC Thomson's children's comics, including the Beezer, Topper, Sparky, Beano, Dandy, Twinkle and Bimbo.

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Characters drawn in Ritchie's easily-recognisable style included Baby Crockett, Bimbo and Barney Bulldog. He was a prolific artist and, although he officially retired a good number of years ago he was still as busy as ever, penning spot cartoons, drawing a weekly comic strip for a German magazine, and illustrating books such as Alison Fitt's The Mingin Clan.

He was born and educated in Glasgow, and attended Glasgow College of Art.

Among Ritchie's early interests was speedway riding, and he was one of Scotland's top performers, competing against England in 1949. He still kept in touch with the, sadly, dwindling number of friends from those days.

He served as a corporal in the Military Police in the Korean War during his National Service.

After demob, cartoonist Jimmy Malcolm suggested that Ritchie apply to DC Thomson for work, and in the 1950s he joined the in-house art studio under its head, Mark Anthony. It was recognised that his forte was in full pages rather than alterations (he did not enjoy "ghosting", in another artist's style), and by the 1960s he was working from home, but still on staff.

In 1959, he married Anne Wynd, whose father had a farm near Dundee. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in the summer of 2009.

They lived in Carnoustie for many years and have three children: Pete, Ian and Jacqueline. There are four grand-daughters and a great-grandson. Bill and Anne moved to Friockheim in 2001.

Ritchie was a member of art and photographic clubs in Carnoustie and Monifieth, and also had a long-term hobby in clay modelling. He attended evening classes in clay at Angus College.

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He was a passionate supporter of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and when he and Anne went walking, it was to the skies that his eyes and ears were trained.

He was also interested in model aeroplanes and had built up an interesting collection.

During intervals in his busy retirement, he and Anne enjoyed travelling and visited the United States, Canada, Alaska and parts of Europe, as well as joining in family trips to Disneyland.

Ritchie was a kind and gentle soul, and in the 42 years that I knew him I never heard a cross word coming from his lips.

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