By Brian White (B&H Publications/White Crescent Press Ltd.)
Return with me again to the dark days of World War II and experience the charm and creativity of the English in the face of Hunnish disaster. Or perhaps I should say try and find this wonderful reproduction of one of the war years’ most popular strips, now all but forgotten.
Brian White first created this roguish charmer of a toddler in the 1930s and he outlasted the Nazis by a good couple of decades, but his pantomimic antics – most strips were slapstick gags without dialogue – were loved by children and adults in equal measure. The feature ran in the Daily Mail and even with wartime restrictions an annual was a foregone conclusion. The public demanded it.
Wartime utility still played its part in this edition, though. As well as the superb bold line artwork, there were plenty of fascinating advertisements for the grown-ups, pages for the kids to draw their own strips (ready-ruled with panels and borders – always the worst job as any cartoonist will tell you!), a calendar for 1940 – remember, Annuals were released around Christmas time and dated for the following year – and to top it off the entire package also doubles as a colouring book! What Larks!
Kidding aside, this is a wonderful insight into our comic strip past, by a master craftsman. That it has such entertainment and socio-historical value is a blessed bonus, but the real treasure is the work itself. All credit to those responsible for re-releasing it, and I fervently wish more companies would make similar efforts to keep our cultural history accessible.
© 1995 B&H Publications/White Crescent Press Ltd. – I presume.