Saturday, August 22, 2009

Comic Cuts: Puss and Boots

a shopping trip becomes a trip into memory lane

Puss and Titch decide to run a rhinoceros ride on Boots' beachComics were important to us when I was a kid. Every week my dad would get "The Hornet," "Adventure," "The Rover," "Action" and "Tiger & Hurricane" (just to prove we weren't an entirely D.C.Thomson household). My sister would get "Bunty" and "Diana" and between us we'd get "The Beano" ("The Dandy" was for toffs) and "The Sparky."

"The Sparky" was a peculiar confection. While it was obviously from the same stable as "The Beano" and "The Dandy" it was always a little, eccentric, shall we say. Old-firm favourites like "Pansy Potter," "Freddy the Fearless Fly," "Nosey Parker" and "Peter Piper" got a remodelling by new artists. At first the brand new strips were fair enough but largely aimed at the kids who were just slightly too old for "Bimbo." Then it all started to get a bit silly. We got a weekly update on the goings-on in the editorial office, tyrannised by "Sir," fuelled by lots of cups of tea and Greek-chorused by the office cat. "L-Cars" gave us Cedric and Frederick, inept and jolly and generally getting their man. (Was there an office anywhere in Sparky Land that that didn't have somebody being kicked out of the doorway?) I-Spy, a pair of hands, a trenchcoat and a stove-pipe hat, armed with an unfeasible arsenal of weapons and gadgets. And my favourite...

My favourite bit of silliness was always "Puss and Boots," drawn by the late, great John Geering.

Puss meets with an accident

Puss the MilkmanBoots the traffic cop pulls over Puss

The plot was always simplicity itself: cat does something, dog sabotages it, punch-up ensues. Or dog does something, cat sabotages it, punch-up ensues. So why did it something so very simple merit a two-page spread? Quite simply, the sheer variety of lunatic ideas brought along by Geering.

Puss meets Boots' auntie This was a world where all policemen had flashing lights on their helmets. And tortoises had crash helmets. Sometimes they also had flying goggles and white silk scarves. Pogo sticks and unicycles were the transport of choice. Elephants featured largely (pun intended). As did the policemen, judges, mayors and corporations of a small town (which always felt like it was in the North of England). Every so often the action would take place in a nearby seaside resort, which always gave the artist the excuse for lots of ice cream cones, donkeys, and blokes with knotted hankies on their heads.

And it was always a ton of fun. Here are a couple of snippets. In this first one Puss is masquerading as a centaur (don't try and work out why, it will only end in tears). The back legs are Puss' nephew, Titch. Titch's side of the dialogue was always "baggle;" he was only a little lad after all. (Though there were times when he was the only one with the sense he was born with.) Boots did have a nephew, too, but he rarely featured.

Puss and Titch pose as a centaur, the best to show the dangers of smoking
And every so often the forces of law and order would remind them of the need to behave themselves...

a disagreement between an usherette and an organist leads to a career change for the lads


Scarlet-Blue said...

Click to make big!!!
If you were my boyfriend I'd have one of these comic strip printed on to canvas and give it to you for Christmas.
I don't think screen prints of Twinkle would work as well.

Gadjo Dilo said...

As I said before I was a Sparky Kid through and through and Puss & Boots were my favourite. "Baggle" is a word indelibly imprinted on my mind as the correct response to the lunacy of adults (albeit an adult cat and dog in this case).

Lulu LaBonne said...

Great drawings - lovely nostalgia


Kevin Musgrove said...

You've said that to a chap before Scarly!

What a lovely thought, thank you. It would be disloyal of me to dis Twinkle, though.

Gadjo: entirely right, too.

Happy to please, Lulu!

willow said...

I was never really into comics growing up, but, wow, there's some fabulous arwork in these vintage treasures.

Madame DeFarge said...

Fab to see these. I never really got into comics, but always loved reading 'Oor Wullie' and the 'Broons', both great Scottish traditions.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Willow: there were some seriously-good artists at play in the comics!

Madame DF: I'm minded to bring Oor Wullie and the Broons' Wee Bairn into play at some time.

No Good Boyo said...

Baggle - so that's where it came from!

Thanks for this Proustian moment.

Kevin Musgrove said...

we aim to serve, Boyo!