Reg Smythe was the creator of 'Andy Capp', a character that appeared for the first time in the Daily Mirror in 1957. This chainsmoking alcoholic who often had a row with his wife Florrie became a big success in Great Britain and abroad. The gags were situated in simple settings, so the emphasis lay on the cynical jokes.
He was born Reginald Smythe in Hartlepool, County Durham. He grew up poor and had to leave school at the age of 14 to take a job as a butcher's errand boy. He joined the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in Egypt in 1936, and served as a machine gunner in North Africa during the Second World War. He sold his first cartoons to Cairo newspapers during this period.
Back in civil life, he worked as a telephone clerk at the General Post Office in London, while doing some poster designs on the side. He eventually picked up cartooning, and sold his work to publications like Everybody's Magazine, Fishtrader's Gazette and the Draper's Record, and later to the London Evening Standard, Reveille, Punch and the Daily Mirror. His first regular features were 'Smythe's Speedway World' in Speedway World and 'Skid Sprocket' for Monthly Speedway World.
His first work for the Mirror was the daily cartoon 'Laughter at Work' in 1954. He was then assigned to develop a character for the paper's Manchester edition. It marked the creation of Smythe's working-class hero 'Andy Capp' in 1957. The character was soon also featured in the other editions of the Daily Mirror, eventually appeared in about 700 newspapers in 34 countries. Book collections have been published since 1958. Reg Smythe continued his longrunning strip in the Daily Mirror until he died from lung cancer in 1998. The strip was continued by writer Roger Kettle and artist Roger Mahoney until 2012, and is currently credited to Mahoney-Goldsmith-Garnett.