Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Perishers: "A Million Housewives Every Day, Pick Up A Tin Of Beans And Say..."

The very first "Perishers" book - 1963. Below: Maisie faces the harsh realities of life in 1967.

According to the excellent Authentic Perishers site (link at end of this post), The Perishers newspaper comic strip began life in the Manchester edition of the Daily Mirror in February 1958 and was the idea of the cartoon editor, Bill Herbert. It was scripted by Ben Witham and drawn by Dennis Collins.

With the strip ailing, advertising artist/writer Maurice Dodd was brought in, replacing Ben Witham. The strip then thrived and, in October 1959, appeared in the national editions of the Daily Mirror.

Dennis Collins retired in 1983 and Maurice Dodd then produced The Perishers alone until 1992 when he went into partnership with illustrator Bill Mevin.

So, what was it all about?

The action revolved around a group of kids - go-cart building orphan Wellington; pushy May Queen wannabe Maisie; Maisie's nightmare of a brother, Baby Grumplin'; and moronic Marlon, the love of Maisie's life.

Wellington's dog, Boot, who believed that he was actually an 18th Century English nobleman, was also a major mover and shaker on The Perishers scene. Recurring characters included an Aldolf Hitler clone tortoise called Kilroy and a group of crabs in a rock pool, exalting over the annual appearance of "The Eyeballs In The Sky".

And then there was Tatty Oldbitt, the sailors' friend, and potty newshound BH (Calcutta) Failed. And what about Beryl Bogey (Urk! Urk! Urk!), Dirty McSquirty and those oddball insects?

The Perishers were quirky and fabulous.

I say "were" because, finally, in 2006, those "perishing kids" made their last appearance. I confess to shedding a few tears, 'cos I loved them very much. I always read the gang's latest exploits whilst I was having my breakfast and was rarely left un-amused. There were times when I'd still be having attacks of Perishers-induced giggles on the bus on the way to work - and it takes a lot to make me laugh before midday.

Two of the central purveyors of The Perishers - Maurice Dodd, who wrote the strip for almost fifty years, and Dennis Collins, who illustrated it for around 25 years, are no longer with us. Mr Dodd died in 2005 and Mr Collins in 1990.

In the strip above, which first appeared in 1967, Maisie, my favourite character, is discovering that real life isn't like the telly commercials!


A Million Housewives Every day

Pick Up a Tin of Beans and Say

Beanz Meanz Heinz!

The Authentic Perishers, THE site for The Perishers, is here.

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