Wicks, Ben

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Wicks, Ben

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Alfred (Ben) Wicks (1 Oct. 1926 - 10 Sept. 2000) was born in Southwark, a borough of London, England’s East End. After World War Two, he remained in London working odd jobs including a stint with the British Air Training Corp. and as a saxophone player before turning to a career as an illustrator. Wicks married Doreen Curtis (1935-2004), a nurse, in Bristol, England, on 31 May 1956.

Ben and Doreen Wicks moved to Calgary, Canada in 1957. Wicks had his first sale as a cartoonist in Canada to The Saturday Evening Post in 1962, and year later, started as a staff member for the Toronto Telegram. His cartoon strip, “The Outcasts,” a take on politics in Canada and the United States, was soon syndicated by over 50 newspapers. In 1967, Wicks was assigned to travel alongside a journalist to cover the Nigerian–Biafran War and its effects on the civilian population through cartoons and drawings. Wicks would continue his efforts in humanitarian work in Haiti, Sudan and other parts of Africa.

After the Toronto Telegram ceased operations in 1971, Wicks moved to the Toronto Star. His single frame cartoon, “Wicks,” was syndicated in 84 Canadian and over 100 American newspapers. Wicks was also a well-known Canadian television personality. He hosted several productions including “Ben Wicks” in the late 1970s that aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1990, Wicks founded the I.Can Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to children’s literacy around the world, and he illustrated several literacy booklets (Born to Read series) that reached millions of school age children across Canada.

Wicks published over 40 books and booklets over his career including Ben Wicks’ Canada (1976), Ben Wicks’ Women (1978), Ben Wicks’ Book of Losers (1979), Ben Wicks’ Etiquette (1981), Ben Wicks’ Dogs (1983), Mavis & Bill (1986), and Mavis & Bill Yes, Again! (1988). He also published non-fiction books including No Time to Wave Goodbye (1987), The Day they Took the Children (1988), Nell’s War (1990), Welcome Home (1991), Master of None: The Story of Me Life (1995), and Dawn of the Promised Land: The Creation of Israel (1997).

In 1986, Wicks was awarded membership into the Order of Canada, followed three years later by his wife, Doreen.

Ben Wicks died of cancer on 10 Sept. 2000.


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2022/0508 K. Kerr. Creation.




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