“All I ever wanted was to draw. I have an almost childish love of cartoons. I always look forward to doing them. If it wasn’t my work, I’d be doing them as a hobby.”
Those words from Grenfell Jones sum up just why he will be greatly missed by the people of Wales and cartoon lovers the world over. His death on January 4th was a sad day for many of us; friends, fans and fellow cartoonists, and yet we can take consolation from the thought that after over 40 years of cartooning, Gren was doing what he loved right up to the end, his last cartoon appearing in the South Wales Echo the day of his death, as was his wish.
Gren spent his early years as a freelance cartoonist and illustrator before joining the South Wales Echo in 1968, providing a daily topical cartoon.
His success was due in no small part to his enthusiasm for cartooning, and he never took his success for granted - “I’m just as thrilled if I see a cartoon of mine in print today as I was 30 years ago”
His fellow cartoonists were equally eager to acknowledge Gren’s skills, awarding him the Provincial Cartoonist of the Year award four times, while in 1989’s New Year’s Honours list he received an MBE.
In typical Gren style he revealed ‘I’m absolutely delighted and I’m looking forward to going up to London, unless the Queen wants to come to Aberflyarff and present it.’
Gren’s fictional valley town of Aberflyarff was home to some of his most popular and enduring creations; Ponty, Pop, Bromide Lil, Neville and Nigel the Sheep - characters that were well loved by his many readers.
Gren was most appreciative of his public too. Gren’s son Darryl told the South Wales Echo: “For the second year running, we had opened up a stall selling Dad’s brilliant cartoons in The Hayes (popular shopping area in Cardiff) and we had more than 18,000 people visit us over Christmas.”
“Dad loved seeing the visitors, and would sit quietly at the nearby Hayes Island snack bar watching them. He was chuffed to beans when, within a few seconds, they would start giggling at his cartoons. He would just sit and quietly smile to himself.”
Many cartoonists speak of his superb draughtsmanship, his wicked sense of humour, others speak of a modest and friendly guy, and a tremendous ambassador for Wales, while his son told the Echo of a loving family man: “He was a fantastic father, but he was more than that to Wales – he was the epitome of Welsh humour. He was the property of Wales, and part of Wales. As a family, we can never forget him and I don’t think Wales will either.”
To see more of Gren's cartoons, go here