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Smilby, Francis Wilford-Smith (1927 – 2009)

Smilby original cartoon artwork

Francis Wilford-Smith used the pseudonym Smilby, a contraction of his surname with his wife's maiden name. Smilby attended Warwick School, where he began drawing cartoons, but left at the age of 16 to train as a radio operator. He joined the Merchant Navy, serving during the Second World War on convoys to Africa and across the Atlantic. In 1946, he began attending Camberwell School of Art in London, specialising in illustration and wood engraving. While there, he met and, in 1949, married Pamela Kilby, which led to their collective nickname of "Smilby". He then became an art teacher, and for a time worked as an animator. By 1951, his cartoons had begun appearing in Punch and other magazines, and he became a full-time cartoonist, later working for the Daily Telegraph, Playboy, and many others. From the early 1960s, he also worked widely in Europe and the USA, publishing cartoons in various periodicals including The New Yorker, Esquire, and the Saturday Evening Post. Smilby also designed many advertising campaigns for Guinness, ICI and Boots. He also worked more widely as a graphic designer and book illustrator. As Francis Smilby, he wrote Stolen Sweets: The Cover Girls of Yesteryear (1981), a definitive history of early pin-up magazines.