Noel Ford was born on 22 December 1942 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, the son of Thomas Joseph Ford, company fireman at Courtaulds. He alsways wanted to be a cartoonist, and later recalled "vivid memories from when I was three or four years old, chalking cartoons on the pavement outside our house." Ford was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Nuneaton, from 1954 to 1959, and at Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts from 1959 to 1960. He was subsequently lead guitarist in a travelling rock band - appearing on TV's New Faces talent show - a furniture salesman, lab technician, clerk, and screen-printer, before he began drawing political cartoons for electoral reform author John Creasey.
Ford's first published cartoon appeared in the Nuneaton Evening Tribune in 1968, but he then dabbled in short-story writing for magazines and BBC Radio. He became a full-time cartoonist only in February 1975, when, as he recalled, he "finally got my act together and gave cartooning a real push rather than the sporadic attempts I had made whilst doing the other things." In 1979 Ford became deputy Editorial Cartoonist to Bill Caldwell on the Daily Star, working from the converted attic of his home in Swannington, Leicestershire, and sending material to the paper in London. Ford continuing working for the Daily Star until 1992, after which he reportedly "avoided reading newspapers wherever possible".
Ford has also been Editorial Cartoonist on the Church Times since 1989, and has contributed to Private Eye, Morning Advertiser, Weekend, Truck & Driver, The Golfer and others. In 1976 he had a cartoon published by Punch - "after exactly one year of submitting ten ideas a week" - and then became a regular contributor, whose work included over thirty Punch cover illustrations. In addition he has contributed to various EMAP and Reed Publishing magazines, and has worked in advertising for companies such as Coopers & Lybrand, Thomas Cook, Digital, Guinness, British Telecom, Mercury, Mercedes Benz, Legal & General, and Hamlet Cigars, and has designed greetings cards. In 1998 he was involved in setting up the College of Cartoon Art, based in Stoke on Trent and providing distance learning courses for cartoonists. In 2000 he moved to live in the Welsh countryside.
Ford used Pelikan and Lamy fountain pens on laser-printer paper, but around 1998 became a wholly-digital cartoonist. He works in colour on a Macintosh G3 computer using a Wacom graphics tablet and stylus and Corel Painter, emailing his cartoons in JPEG format at 300 dpi. He regards cartooning as "eighty percent writing, fifteen percent art and five percent undefinable".
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.78.
- Interview by Rod McKie 7 May 2006 - the-cartoon-fiend.blogspot.com/2006/05/friends-of-fiend-19-noel-ford.html
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