Jack Dunkley was born in Holloway, London, in 1906, and educated at Sir Hugh Middleton Secondary School. At the age of sixteen Dunkley started work in Wardour Street, the centre of London's film industry, producing subtitles for advertising films, while also taking classes at the nearby Central School of Arts and Crafts. In 1930 he left the film studio and in 1932 became a freelance cartoonist.
Dunkley worked at first for the Daily Mirror, contributing sports cartoons under the title "Sport Shorts." His most famous single image was probably the illustration of a hand and gun produced for the front page of the Daily Mirror on 25 October 1951, the day of the General Election, with the headline "Today YOUR finger is on the trigger." But he only gained lasting fame as the creator of "The Larks", a strip cartoon that began in the Daily Mirror on 5 August 1957, and dealt with the life of a working-class family.
The original script for "The Larks" was written by the radio-comedy writers Bill Kelly and Arthur Lay, but later storylines were written by Robert St John Cooper (a television scriptwriter and former cartoonist), Brian Cooke (who took over in 1963 and made the family middle class), and Ian Gammidge (another cartoonist). "The Larks" comprised Sam Lark, who worked in a supermarket, his blonde wife Sal, and their two children Stevie and Susie, whose ages were frozen once Stevie started work and Susie started school. They also had a cat, So-so, which thought in rhyme.
Dunkley also drew editorial cartoons for the Daily Mirror, and produced the cookery strip "Patsy" and the gardening strip "Mr Digwell" - again scripted by Ian Gammidge. Dunkley also drew for the Radio Times, producing sporting cartoons for thirty years and also providing a number of covers. In addition he worked as an illustrator and caricaturist, contributing to the Daily Sketch, News Chronicle and Daily Express, amongst other publications. Dunkley's strip "The Larks" lasted twenty-eight years, with the final episode appearing in the Daily Mirror on 28 February 1985, the same day that Bill Tidy's "The Fosdyke Saga" ended. Both strips were victims of the changes that followed Robert Maxwell's purchase of the paper in July 1984.
- Ian J. Scott (ed) British Cartoonists Year Book 1964 (London, 1963), p.89.
Gardening: 205 uncatalogued original strips [GD0001 - 0203]
The Larks: 16 boxes uncatalogued originals [LK0001 - 1194]
1 cartoon of personal friend
Gardening: 60s, 70s (4/1/69 - 30/12/72)
The Larks: 60s, 70s (1/1/69 - 10/72)