Peter Maddocks was born in Birmingham on 1 April 1928, the son of a bus driver. In 1939, when Maddocks was eleven, he won a scholarship to the Moseley School of Art in Birmingham, where one of the tutors was Norman Pett, creator of the "Jane" strip in the Daily Mirror. "He would sit there drawing naked ladies," Maddocks later recalled, "while we sat there drawing daffodils in milk bottles": "I thought it would be a wonderful way to learn cartooning, but it wasn't...So at fifteen I left and joined the Merchant Navy." Maddocks served in the Merchant Navy from 1943 to 1949. On leaving he got a job adding the lettering to Amalgamated Press strips such as "Kit Carson" and "The Saint", and, at the age of twenty-one, set up his own advertising agency in London, designing cinema posters.
Maddocks then joined a film animation company, but in 1953 he was taken on by the Daily Sketch to draw a general daily cartoon, later recalling that "to this day, I don't know what the Cartoon Editor saw in those first cartoons I did." The job lasted until 1954. In 1955 he moved to the Daily Express, where he created the popular strip "Four-D Jones", about a cowboy with a "time hoop" through which he travelled in the fourth dimension. Maddocks also drew the "Horatio Cringe" strip for the Glasgow Evening Citizen.
Maddocks claimed not to like drawing strips. In 1965 he stopped drawing "Four-D Jones", and became Cartoon Editor of Express Newspapers, but he left the job in 1966. From 1966 to 1970 he drew pocket and sports cartoons for the London Evening Standard. In 1967 he began a long association with the magazine Mayfair, and from 1968 to 1971 was Special Features Editor of the magazine King. In 1970 Maddocks created the "No.10" strip for the Sunday Express, which ran for twenty-one years, and his animal strip "A Leg at Each Corner" began in the Manchester Evening News, then transferred to the Sunday Telegraph from 1971 to 1973. From 1974 to 1977 he drew "Slightly Maddocks" cartoons for the London Evening News, and from 1975 onwards he drew the "Useless Eustace" strip for the Daily Mirror, taking over from Jack Greenall.
Maddocks' freelance work has also included contributions to the Daily Star, Daily Record (the "Cop Shop" strip), Mail on Sunday, Private Eye, Daily Telegraph (City pages from 1977), Sunday Telegraph from 1971 to 1973, Mayfair from 1967 to 1984, Woman's Own from 1976 to 1977, and others. In 1977 he set up the London School of Cartooning in Fleet Street to run a correspondence course on cartoon art, and in 1984, after producing animated commercials for Halas & Batchelor, he established the Maddocks Cartoon Production Company Ltd to produce television cartoons for children. His animated films for BBC TV include The Family-Ness (1983), Jimbo and the Jet Set (1986) and Penny Crayon (1990) - about a girl who could draw anything with her crayons and it would come to life. From 1993 he also produced animated films for GMTV.
By 1986 Maddocks was sharing an office in Fleet Street with fellow cartoonist Peter O'Donnell, and working for several papers. "Thursday is Fleet Street day, when I have my 'Number 10s' to do", he told an interviewer: "In the morning I do three or four roughs and take them to the Sunday Express by lunchtime, then go to the Daily Telegraph and sit down for an hour or so drawing for the City pages. By phone, I confirm with the Sunday Express which idea they like and then I go to my studio in Fleet Street to finish it off." The London School of Cartooning closed in 1987, but was briefly resurrected in 1990 as The Cartoon School.
For his cartoons Maddocks used a black Parker fibre-tip or No. 6 Rotring pen, with Dr Martin's watercolours, on cartridge paper or 85 gsm A4 typing paper. His characters tended to be slightly goggle-eyed with splayed-out fingers. "You have to be able to communicate your sense of fun through your line," he explained of his drawings: "It's no good if the words are funny, but the drawing doesn't convey that fun - the cartoon won't work."
In 2000 Maddocks retired and moved to southern Spain, noting that “the lights had gone out on my beloved Fleet Street” and that he wanted to “escape the grey skies and crowded streets of London.” He has given up cartooning in favour of painting with acrylics on canvas, experimenting “in every style imaginable with a hope to find one of my own.”
- Telegraph Sunday Magazine, 30 March 1980, p.11, "Releasing the Talents of Budding Cartoonists."
- Susie Cornfield "A Day's Work: The Cartoonist", Telegraph Sunday Magazine, cutting from 1986 in CSCC Archive.
- Note by Peter Maddocks in CSCC Archive.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), pp.149-50.
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