The truth about those Jerry Pryce Klaus strips….
The recently departed Jerry Pryce, born Jerszy Pryzmat, was a scriptwriter and editorial cartoonist, who will perhaps primarily be remembered for being a great mimic. Whether it was The Two Ronnies, Poussin or Reg Smyth, Jerry nailed it every time.
I came late to Jerry’s art, only discovering him in late 2011. Following poor sales of my first ‘Klaus’ book, and a certain reluctance on my part to write ‘broader’ jokes, Nobrow had sent out some feelers to Jerry. Jerry had already been working on a second ‘Hilda’ book, after Luke Pearson had expressed reservations about continuing the series. Eventually Luke decided to continue the series and so Jerry was assigned to draft a batch of Klaus strips, to see if he could turn that property’s characters into a commercially viable proposition. I only knew about this after the event, of course. However any notion I had of Jerry being a ‘scab’ were quickly dispelled when I saw what he did with my silly old characters.
Like the consummate professional Jerry was, within a few weeks he had produced a number of strips which gave Klaus a dynamism it simply hadn’t had before. Nobrow were impressed, but test audiences showed that Klaus would still be too hard to sell to the Nobrow crowd, even with some certified LOL-ers in the bag, and a second collection never got off the ground. Excerpts from two of Jerry’s strips can be seen above.
I only met Jerry once, at the launch of the ‘Nobrow 6’ anthology. I found Jerry to be incredibly likeable, although he did have the (to me) strange conversational tic of copying one’s body language, to the point of distraction. I recall later that night (although we were all a little worse for wear) seeing Jerry, in a pair of glasses almost identical to my own, tell one of my own childhood anecdotes to a captive audience, in an uncanny approximation of my own North-Eastern accent. Later still he tried to hail a taxi with my wife, who had been convinced Jerry was me. I could have been sore, but that was Jerry I guess.
Anyway, RIP Jerry. I owe you a beer in Heaven.