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British Comic Strips

    Wellington, Maisie and Marlon - The Perishers...

 
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   The Perishers

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             artists:  
Maurice Dodd & Dennis
                         Collins, Bill Melvin

  appearances:  Mirror Group Newspapers
                          1957 to 2006...

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    America may well have had the apple-pie delights of "Peanuts", but for
    nigh-on fifty years, us Brits had the h'effervescent pleasures of a daily strip
    cartoon starring a group of kids called The Perishers. Wellington, Maisie,
    Marlon, Wellington's scruffy sheepdog Boot, B.H. the bloodhound, Fiscal
    and Baby Grumplin pondered, pontificated, plundered, preached, and
    pratfalled for the best part of six decades, in the pages of "The Daily
    Mirror".


    The Perishers are particularly well-known for the way they talk. Their speech
    bubbles read like Liza Doolittle in "Pygmalion", a combination of posh and
    cock-a-ney
and creator Maurice Dodd has always delighted in exploiting
    sophisticated vernacular and wordage between the strip stars, dropping
    their 'H's and pronouncing words phonetically to clever effect.

    Dodd was an ex-apprentice car salesman, baker's roundsman, universal
    grinder operator, spray painter, shop assistant, postman, locomotive foreman,
    caretaker, aircraftsman and paratrooper who had juggled his commitment to the
    strip with employment at ad agency Young & Rubicam. Indeed, he was actually
    the mastermind behind those famous Clunk-Clink seatbelt advertisements. His
    advertising experiences frequently found their way into the strip too. In the
    sixties, in particular, the kids made regular reference to Guinness ads,
    Government Milk ads, Washing Powder commercials, and suchlike. Dodd's one
    abiding political Bugbear also continued to surface: His dislike of taxation!

    Actually, the politics of the strip, whilst not overt, could get rather muddled.
    The kids themselves have a conservative bent, but the incidental characters
    are most definitely steered to the political left. Witness the frequent socialist
    fisticuffs of its two tiniest co-stars, Fred Beetle and Delinquent Caterpillar
    who rally and rumble for the Common Worker, like miniature versions
    of Pete'n'Dud:

    Fred Beetle and Delinquent Caterpillar scrap it out...

    Dennis Collins was the original artist, from a family of Dutch descent. His panels
    were fabulous, realized in a most precise fine line with meticulous attention to
    architectural and clothing detail. Collins continued to draw the Perishers
    strip for some twenty-six years, until his retirement in 1983. Since then, artist
    Bill Melvin has been holding the pen. Bill's a veteran animator and cartoonist
    who was formerly employed on Halas & Batchelor's Animal Farm feature, before
    he moved into children's comics, illustrating such gems as "The Herbs" and
    "Bill & Ben" for "Pippin" and "Playland"...

    Perishers Vs Peanuts

    The Perishers/Peanuts connections are actually quite extraordinary. "The
    Perishers" commenced seven years after the birth of their US friends and although
    a conscious effort was made to distance the Brit strip from its American cousint
    there remain many similarities. For Charlie Brown and Snoopy read Wellington
    and Boot. Lucy and Maisie could be twins, almost, in looks and thoughts
    (frequently violent!). Snoopy has his on/off pal Woodstock, whereas Wellington
    frequently encounters Fred Beetle, the rockpool Crabs and friends. Snoopy
    himself is a former World War I Flying Ace, whereas Boot thinks he is the
    reincarnation of an Olde English Rake. Even the situations bear similar fruit.
    Where "Peanuts" has Linus and the nighttime pumpkin patch, "The Perishers"
    has the moon - Wellington and co are often to be found musing, in silhouette,
    beneath its full splendour.

    On the surface, then, so similar. But scratch it away and a coarser, rougher,
    decidedly British undercoat shines. Wellington and friends aren't from some safe
    middle-class suburb. They're rough, tough, working class kids, with that
    ho-so-polite-mockney-cockney dialogue, disheveled attire and a fondness for
    dirty-great tomato ketchup sandwiches. They're aspiring to be middle class,
    which explains their enduring popularity amongst readers of "The Mirror".


    Sadly, Maurice Dodd passed away in January 2006, and six months
    later, on 10th June 2006, the strip itself reached the end of its run.
    They may be gone now, but those perishin' kids aren't likely to
    be forgotten...


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     Perishers Omnibus #2 


    Those perishin' ominbuses

    Between 1963 and 1990, thirty-six Perisher collections
    were published by the Mirror Group...


    
» The Perishers at Amazon.co.uk

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    A perishin' series

    In 1978 The Perishers reached the small screen in the form of an animated series
    from producer Bill Melendez and FilmFair. And here's where the Peanuts connection
    can be seized upon again, because this was the same Mr Melendez responsible
    for bringing Charlie Brown and Co. into animated form. The politics were dropped
    from this teatime friendly production, along with Mr Beetle and Mr Caterpillar,
    but the show is still fondly recalled - mostly because of its memorable theme tune,
    and the casting, with the actors capturing the mockney-cockney rather well,
    as it 'appens...

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     See also

     The Perishers (tv series)

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     In the news

     The Hound: June 2006
     
The strip comes to an end...

     The Hound: January 2006
     
The death of Maurice Dodd...

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     Current promos/tie-ins

     A perishin' statue!

     This perishin's statue was launched in Spring 2007 by Robert
     Harrop Designs, and was restricted to just 750 editions.
...

     
» You can buy yours from the folks at Boojog Collectables
    

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    On the web


    The Aunthentic Perishers

    This splendid official site gives you all the strip info and history
    you might need - plus you can buy the original strips!


    
The Shadow Gallery

    Jean Rogers' thought-provoking page takes a most detailed
    look at strip...


    
Little Gems

    The Gems focus on the TV series.
..

    Tony's Trading

    This is great! - Tony presents a page of cover scans archiving every
    Perishers book and omnibus published over the years...


    Cartoon Art

    Operated by cartoonist Peter Longden, his online store includes
    several fine pieces from the pen and brush of Bill Melvin, including some
    beautiful Pippin pages and a page of original Perishers strips for you to
    buy - if your wallet's big enough...



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