William (Bill) Papas was born in South Africa, son a of a successful Greek immigrant.
When he was 15, he left home and joined the South African Air Force and wound up flying coastal missions as a tail gunner during the war. He studied art at various places such as Johannesburg Art School, Beckenham School of Art in Kent, and St. Martin’s in London. His first published cartoon came out in the Cape Times in 1951, and eventually his first illustrated book entitled Under the Table would be published the following year. He would later cover Nelson Mandela’s treason trial in 1958 as a artist-cum-reporter.
A year later he returned to Britain with his wife Aroon McConnel, daughter Peta, and their two sons Warren and Vollmer. They settled in Kent and Papas joined the staff of The Guardian. Years later, in 1963, he took over the position of political cartoonist from David Low. Not only that, he also did comic strips and pictorial reports, covering such things as Cyprus in 1965 and the Six-Day War in 1967. Meanwhile he also drew cartons for the Sunday Times and Punch. It was around this time in his life that he worked with Oxford University Press to illustrate for both children and adults.
He would eventually divorce and marry a woman named Tessa Pares. He spent ten years in Greece, then moved to Geneva, and in 1984, moved to Oregon where he painted and illustrated. He also ran his own art gallery and did pen and ink and watercolor pictures of American cities. Sadly, Papas died at Hotnarko Lake in British Colombia on Jun 19th, 2000 after he was involved in a flying accident.
Papas died at Hotnarko Lake, British Columbia, on 19 June 2000, following a flying accident.