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Reg Perrott, Disney and the Boys & Girls Own Evening World 
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In 1933 the seventeen-year-old Basil Reynolds joined the Adams & Fidler Studio, situated just off London's Fleet Street. Here he quickly developed a firm friendship with fellow artist Reg Perrott and in no time at all they found themselves swamped with work for a whole range of American-style comic supplements that had suddenly sprung into existence around the country as a number of newspapers embraced this new circulation-boosting craze. Among the titles they contributed to over the next few years were The Scottish Daily Express Children's Own; The Daily Express Children's Own; The South Wales Echo & Express Children's Supplement; The Boys and Girls Own Yorkshire Evening News and - most significantly - The Boys and Girls Own (Bristol) Evening World.

At first they pitched in with an eclectic assortment of puzzles, painting competitions, cartoons and humorous comic strips - but then, one day in early 1934, Reynolds witnessed 'a veritable miracle'. As Basil describes it in his wonderful autobiography Of Skit and Skat and This and That:

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Reg had been turning out a variety of artwork, the usual puzzles, comic animal strips etc, but only drew pin-men because, he said, he couldn't draw human figures. Then one day, as we sat working in the studio, he suddenly said "I'm going to have a go at a straight strip!" Thereupon, as I watched in growing disbelief, Reg drew six frames in pencil, and without references of any sort, proceeded to fill them in with six pictures of a legionnaire mounted on a black horse, ploughing through the sandy wastes of a desert fort. It was astonishing! He couldn't have picked a harder subject for his story. but in one bound he bridged the gap between comic and straight strips and produced a mature, splendidly drawn picture set! It was so good that it eventually became the first instalment of 'The Luck of the Legion', which appeared as a short serial strip on the back page of the Boys and Girls Evening World. After that, of course, there was no stopping him...


Unfortunately I don't have an example from this first series, but I have managed to acquire a number of episodes from the subsequent adventure strips he created for the same title - before going on to national fame with features like 'The Road to Rome' in the pages of Mickey Mouse Weekly.

Here's a particularly stunning example from Perrott's penultimate Evening World series, as it appeared on the front page of the issue dated Friday, August 9th, 1935:

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It's difficult to see this amazingly assured 'lost world' fantasy without being reminded of similar adaptations of the works of H. Rider Haggard that were produced for DC Thomson by Dudley Watkins and Paddy Brennan - then one realizes with something of a shock that they wouldn't be drawn for another quarter of a century! The fact is that in 1935 Hal Foster still hadn't created Prince Valiant, while Alex Raymond had only been drawing Flash Gordon for a year.

Even though his work was, as yet, only visible to readers in and around the city limits of Bristol Reg Perrott had succeeded in producing British adventure strips that could hold their own with anything that was then being published anywhere in the world!

- Phil Rushton


Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:00 pm
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The Boys & Girls Own Evening World was notable for a number of reasons - not least the fact that from February 1934 to August 1935 it was published every day of the week (excluding Saturday and Sunday), thus becoming 'the most frequently published comic in history' according to Denis Gifford.

Next to this, B&GOEW's most significant claim to fame is the fact that it was the first British comic to regularly feature all Walt Disney's newspaper strips in colour (albeit a somewhat limited combination of black, green and red). By comparison, the only national children's publication to carry Disney material during the early 1930s was the weekly magazine/story-paper The Modern Boy which, for a time, devoted a single page of each issue to tiny, black & white reprints of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse dailies (said to have been 'drawn by the famous Walt Disney'!).

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By comparison those boys (and girls) fortunate enough to live in the Bristol area were able to read large-scale colour reproductions of the same material, as well as the more lavish Sunday pages which were split between Mickey himself and a rotating cast of characters who appeared under the 'Silly Symphonies' Banner. In addition, there were also a number of home-grown puzzles and games with a Disney theme, used to fill in awkward spaces. While Disney material didn't appear in every single issue of B&GOEW there were some occasions when Mickey Mouse could actually be found in different storylines on the front and back pages. Here are a couple of examples from 1934 and 1935 - the first featuring a self-contained Mickey Sunday (ingeniously buttressed with decorative 'film strips' on either side), and the second adding colour to Gottfredson's striking depiction of an impossibly vertiginous canyon.

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One interesting aspect of these strips is the fact that Donald Duck is, as yet, no more than a relatively minor supporting character, and looks very different from the version that later accompanied his Uncle Scrooge McDuck on so many classic flights of fancy by the great Carl Barks. Here he is, selling copies of Mickey's campaigning newspaper 'The Daily War-Drum'.

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And here he is, co-starring in a very early 'Silly Symphony' strip:

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Rather more prominent in those early days was Bucky Bug - a kind of Mickey Mouse of the insect world - who headlined in quite a number of 'Silly Symphonies' episodes:

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Unfortunately the Boys & Girls Own Evening World came to a sudden end in early 1936 - just a few weeks before Mickey Mouse Weekly was triumphantly launched as Britain's first national photogravure comic, beginning a hugely successful run of over twenty years.

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The strange thing is that while MMW is internationally famous today, being reverently documented by Disney enthusiasts such as the 'INDUCKS' group, its regional predecessor hardly seems to get a mention - in spite of the fact that it was produced by many of the same people, such as Reg Perrott, Stanley White and Basil Reynolds. To my mind this is a state of affairs that really needs to be rectified so that B&GOEN can take its place in history as one of the world's first and best Disney comics!

- Phil Rushton


Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:55 am
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philcom55 wrote:
Unfortunately the Boys & Girls Own Evening World came to a sudden end in early 1936 - just a few weeks before Mickey Mouse Weekly was triumphantly launched as Britain's first national photogravure comic, beginning a hugely successful run of over twenty years.
Just a few weeks? It's obvious what happened then, they lost the rights to Disney characters and didn't have enough material to continue the comic without them.

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Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:33 pm
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This is all great stuff, Phil. I'd like to see more Evening World adventure strip serial material!


Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:40 pm
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As far as adventure strips go Reg Perrott was undoubtedly the jewel in the Boys and Girls Own Evening World's crown. Here's a page of the third serial he drew for that title: a nice cross between Tarzan and the Jungle Book called 'Targa the Tiger-Man' which began on the back page before being promoted to the cover.

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Targa thus became one of the first adventure strips to appear on the front page of a British comic. Yet the distinction of being the very first belongs to a strip called 'Rosalind and Tommy's Adventures Among the Chinese' which was cover-featured on the South Wales Echo & Express Children's Supplement as early as 1933. This rather quaint series was the work of Hugh Stanley White, who just happened to be another of Basil and Reg's colleagues at the Adams and Fidler Agency. All three can be seen in this humorous caricature drawn by Perrott, as reproduced in Reynolds' autobiography.

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In the 1976 Ally Sloper Awards White was also recognized as British comics' 'First Science Fiction Artist' for his 1936 Mickey Mouse Weekly series 'Ian on Mu'. Less well known, however, are a number of equally remarkable one-off technological fantasies he drew for the Boys and Girls Own Evening World as early as 1934. While these curious strips don't feature robots, starships, space-aliens or any of the other more familiar SF elements, I do think that they are a perfect example of Hugo Gernsbeck's earlier notion of 'Scientifiction' which he defined as stories consisting of "75 percent literature interwoven with 25 percent science". And as with most historical visions of 'Tomorrow's World' it's fascinating to see how quickly they became old-fashioned instead: ending up as much more accurate representations of the dreams and preoccupations of the period in which they were created rather than any actual future that subsequently came to pass.

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While not in the same league as Reg Perrott when it came to sheer draughtsmanship it seems to me that White was nonetheless a significant figure in the history of British adventure strips whose previously unrecorded contributions to B&GOEW deserve to be remembered alongside the more celebrated stories he drew for Mickey Mouse Weekly.

Incidentally White later went on to become one of the first British superhero artists, drawing Young Marvelman for Mick Anglo's studio during the 1950s. Here's his version of the character as featured in the Comics 101 Souvenir Book in 1976:

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- Phil Rushton


Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:29 pm
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Very interesting information, there, Phil - and some more very appealing images. Those original publications must be very hard to come by, to say the least!

I found the first instalment of Ian on Mu on this blog:

http://kayaozkaracalar.blogspot.co.uk/2 ... omics.html


Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:23 pm
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Does anyone have a clue as to what can be found on Perrott in GOLDEN FUN, # 15, Winter 1985? According to an Ebay-seller this fanzine(?) is AN APPRECIATION OF OLD BRITISH COMICS, 1920s 30s, 40s, 50s, ETC... AND THE FABULOUS ILLUSTRATORS, THIS ISSUE HAS -- MARY TOURTEL (RUPERT THE BEAR), REG PERROTT (MICKEY MOUSE WEEKLY), DAVID LAW (DENNIS THE MENACE) ETC...

John


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Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:56 am
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Thanks for reminding me of that issue John. It does indeed contain a 10-page article entitled 'Reg Perrott - Trailblazer of the Adventure Strip' written by the always-reliable David Ashford, though the greater part of it is taken up with a series of well-chosen illustrations. What's more I'd completely forgotten that the latter included a page from 'The Luck of the Legion' - Perrott's first-ever adventure strip, and until now the only one of his B&GOEW series I didn't have any examples of.

Here it is, followed by a stunning example of 'The Road to Rome' - the first strip he drew for Mickey Mouse Weekly, just two years later:

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Though Perrott's indebtedness to Fortunino Matania and Frank Godwin is widely acknowledged I'd love to know if he had also seen Hal Foster's work on Tarzan when he began to draw adventure strips. To my mind his horses in particular would look right at home in 'Prince Valiant'!

Coincidentally, I myself picked up the first three issues of Golden Fun - none of which I'd ever even seen before - at a comic mart last Saturday. While I've not had a chance to look through these early (and crudely reproduced) numbers yet I can happily attest that all the later issues of Alan Clark's seminal magazine about British comics are thoroughly absorbing, and virtually indispensable for anybody with more than a passing interest in the subject.

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- Phil Rushton


Last edited by philcom55 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:12 pm
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wigwam wrote:
Does anyone have a clue as to what can be found on Perrott in GOLDEN FUN, # 15, Winter 1985?
Yes. The main content of the whole magazine is below.

Dennis! - An appreciation of the comic characters of Davy Law by Norman Wright (7 sides, including illustrations)
Sid Burgon - Interviewed by Alan Clark (8 sides, including illustrations)
Reg Perrott - Trailblazer of the Adventure Strip by David Ashford (10 sides, including illustrations)
A Line In Chuckles by Terry Bave (10 sides, including illustrations)
Rupert Little Bear : the story of Mary Tourtel by Alan and Laurel Clark (5 sides, including illustrations)


Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:15 pm
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