Tijl Uilenspiegel, by Gray

Gray Croucher was born as Lionel Graham Croucher in Portsmouth and was a captain in the invasion of Normandy during the War. He met a girl in the Belgian town Bruges, where he settled and got married. In 1949, he started working for the Catholic publisher De Goede Pers (later Altoria) in Averbode, where he made illustrations for hundreds of books, including the 'Api' series by L. Vermeiren.

In 1950, Gray's first comic was published in the magazine Zonneland, 'De Avonturen van Piet'. A great many followed, including gag strips such as 'Fox', 'Rik & Rak', 'De Verstrooide Professor', 'Fokske', 'Notenkraker', 'Marleentje', 'Sefje' and 'Piet en zijn Papa'. Gray also illustrated many stories by writer John Flanders, like 'De Verloste Stad', 'Het Vliegend Konijntje' and 'Het Spookeiland', all in 1951. He also worked extensively with editor Daniël De Kesel (Nonkel Fons) on 'Tijl Uilenspiegel' and 'Tijl en Lamme'.

Het Spookeiland, by GrayDe Verwenste Prins, by Gray

Gray also made a couple of serials for Zonneland, with titles such as 'Het Geheimzinnige Huis' and 'Het Geheim van de Oude Trommel'. For the weekly magazine Averbode's Weekblad, Gray started the gag strip 'Zwaaipulle' in 1954 and 'Oscar' in 1959. In these years, he also illustrated for Tam-Tam and made a missionary story, 'Bamboe in de Broesse', that was written by Pater Marc and published by Sancta Infantia.

Tijl Uilenspiegel, by Gray

Croucher is best-known for his gag comic 'Rikske en Fikske', about a young boy and his naughty dog. The strip was created in cooperation with De Kesel and debuted in the first issue of Zonnekind in 1959. The characters became somewhat mascots for the publishing house, and Croucher had to cut down his work for Zonneland to focus on this strip. The characters were featured in a line of merchandise, including singles, textbooks, greeting cards and plastic dolls.

During the 1960s, Gray worked for the new Altoria magazines Prutske/Doremi and Zonnestraal, creating new series like 'Flip en Flup' and 'Mitoe'. He reworked 'Rikske en Fikske' to a wordless comic strip for Doremi, to make it more accessible to younger readers. Croucher's activities declined during the second half of the 1960s, and most of his work was taken over by Roex. Gray Croucher spent his final years in Oostkamp, where he has been honored with several expositions since his death in 1971.

Rikske & Fikske, by Gray

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