Cartoonist, Illustrator, Author
Jeff Wakefield has been teaching basic drawing systems to students in schools, libraries and art galleries since 1973. His work over the years has been seen and heard in more than 40 countries around the world in the form of children’s books, comic strips, animated T.V. commercials, posters, product graphics and audiotapes. In 1975, his work with students at Winfields Junior High School in North York was featured on C.B.C. Radio and Television as well as U.S. Public Broadcasting’s WNED and in 1976, he was a guest speaker, participant and demonstrator in the U.S. Bicentennial exhibit of original comic strip art at the prestigious Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York.
“With the exception of a few jobs at the beginning, I have always been a “free-lancer” – a self-employed person creating concepts for sale or working on commissioned assignments. I began my professional career as a free-lancer in 1964, while still in high school, appearing in Toronto Telegram, which was one of the three Toronto papers of the day (The Globe and The Star were the other two). Three years later, the Telly, as it was known, began running a comic strip I had created back in 1965, called Bubblegummers once a week in their teen section. In 1971, after nearly 100 years in publishing, the Telegram went out of business but was soon replaced, in 1972, by the Toronto Sun. “Bubblegummers”, now in a daily format, was carried in the Sun and then by a dozen or so other Canadian papers until the late ‘70’s.
My wife and I are both artists and in late 1976 she was part of an exhibition at a Toronto Illustrator’s Gallery. One of her paintings was bought for Sonya Bata, the wife of Thomas Bata, owner of the largest shoe manufacturing company in the world. This introduction lead to The Bata Shoe Organization adopting my characters and “Bubblegummers” name as the mascots and brand name for their new line of children’s footwear. It also introduced me to the world of product and packaging design, as well as advertising and promotion. The Bubblegummers became a fashion hit and rapidly became the biggest selling brand of children’s footwear in the world, a position it still claims today.”
(one of the first Bubblegummers commercials)
Some of the titles written and/or illustrated by Jeff Wakefield