A friend of mine has loaned me some old copies of Knockout to read so I've had an opportunity to read some of the favourite strips of my occasional co-writer David Ashford -- and jolly fine they are, too.
Anyway, one strip I was really pleased to spot was 'Sporty' by Reg Wootton because it was a favourite of mine when it appeared in Valiant. I did a quick search and found a few examples of his artwork including nine strips from the Sunday Express (1948-49) as part of the 'Having a Laugh! The British Art of the Cartoon' exhibition hosted by Chris Beetles (you'll have to scroll down the page).
Wootton apparently joined the Sunday Express in 1931 and created the 'Sporting Sam' strip for the back page two years later. This according to Rugby Relics (and copied wholesale by Lambiek Comiclopedia) which says that in 1949, Wootton "transferred 'Sporting Sam' to the Knockabout Comic of Amalgamated Press" which isn't true. Although both strips did features sports, 'Sporty', who appeared in Knockout was a young adult (although drawn to look more like a boy) who has an adult friend Sydney and there was dialogue; 'Sporting Sam' was considerably older-looking, has a bulbous nose and appeared in a two, three or four panel pantomime strip without dialogue. Some of Sporting Sam's strips were collected in 1979.
'Sporty' began his considerable run in issue 539 (25 June 1949) and appeared until February 1963 when Knockout merged with Valiant. Sporty continued his adventures until 28 October 1972 (although not in every single issue), an almost unbroken run of 23 years. Wootton added a second string to his bow briefly with 'Tubby the All Round Sportsman' in Buster (1967-68).
I believe Sporty and Sydney became 'Mug en Mik' in the Dutch weekly Eppo but I've not been able to find any other strips by Reg Wootton.
It seems to be the received wisdom that Wootton died in 1995, in which case he may have been Reginald Clifford George Wootton, born 13 December 1908, who lived at Oak Cottage Rest Home, 4 Wilkins Green Lane, Hatfield, Herts., where he died on 19 April 1995, aged 86. If anyone can expand on this extremely thin biography, perhaps you'd drop me a line (just don't attach a snake to it first).
UPDATE -- 5 August
I've just picked up a copy of the Sporting Sam book published by Express Newspapers in 1979 which features a brief biography and a photograph. According to the notes "[Sporting Sam] has appeared in the paper [Sunday Express] ever since , except for one week during the war when the drawing was mislaid! It is a most remarkable record.
"Reg, whose admiring public extends well beyond the British Isles, is, naturally, interested in ALL sports and has played most games. But cricket is his first love -- he played for Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Barnet, and Totteridge Cricket Club. He played Rugby for his school but switched to Soccer when he left and kept goal for local sides. Yes, Reg Wootton is truly a genuine sportsman, besides being a fine artist."
All this leads me to believe that Wootton was educated and lived in North London (Totteridge is in the north London borough of Barnet). He's probably the Reginald Wootton listed in the London phone book at 45 Prospect Road, New Barnet in 1952/53.
(* Sporty © IPC Media; Sporting Sam © Express Newspapers)