welcome and enjoy!

Hi and welcome to my blog about comics from other people’s childhood! It is dedicated primarily to British humour comics of the 60s and 70s. The reason they are not from my childhood is simply because I didn’t live in the UK back then (nor do I live there now). I knew next to nothing about them until fairly recently but since then I’ve developed a strong liking for the medium and amassed a large collection, including a number of complete or near complete sets. My intention is to use this blog as a channel for sharing my humble knowledge about different titles, favourite characters and creators as I slowly research my collection.

QUICK TIP: this blog is a sequence of posts covering one particular comic at a time. The sequence follows a certain logic, so for maximum results it is recommended that the blog is read from the oldest post up.

Copyright of all images and quotations used here is with their respective owners. Any such copyrighted material is used exclusively for educational purposes and will be removed at first notice. All other text copyright Irmantas P.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Judging from the low number of pageviews and hardly any feedback on the last few blogposts about Gulliver Guinea-Pig, a detailed account of the complete Playhour series from 1958 till 1965 is unlikely to be very popular but I have started planning it nonetheless. Wouldn’t it be fun to trace the adventures of the restless traveler drawn by some of the finest artists - starting with both main illustrators of the strip, i.e. Philip Mendoza:

... and Gordon Hutchings:

… and including those who only occasionally stepped in for the regulars, such as another Playhour’s star artist Fred White: 

… the excellent Ron Embleton:

… the versatile Jesus Blasco:

… and a few others, such as Cambra whose name I’ve never heard before:

I am only missing 12 episodes, they are all from the years 1958 and 1959, and it looks like a fellow Gulliver fan from Australia will help me fill the gaps in the near future!

Sunday, February 25, 2018


As a follow-up to his article about the origins of Gulliver Guinea-Pig, John referred me to a blogpost about another appearance of the little traveler outside of his home-paper (Playhour). It turns out that Gulliver made a guest appearance in Harold Hare comic immediately prior to its merger with Playhour in April 1964. Apparently, the intention of the editorial team was to entice the readers of Harold Hare to start following Gulliver’s adventures in the new combined paper.

What’s curious about the episode (apart from the fact that it was printed in another comic) is that it looks like it was illustrated by Mendoza who had stopped drawing the feature for Playhour 4 years ago. The episode is unsigned - not very typical of Mendoza, but I am positive it is by Gulliver’s original artist. The style and even the theme (lost treasure, etc.) are quite similar to those of one of the last Playhour stories by Mendoza. I have shown it below for you to compare.

I wonder if it was an unused episode that Mendoza drew back in 1960, or perhaps it was printed in a Playhour annual (I don’t have copies to check, but the size of the panels suggests it may very well have been the case)? If you have the last issues of Harold Hare, I’d appreciate if you could check how many featured Gulliver.

These scans of the episode from Harold Hare comic are from the issue cover-dated 4 April, 1964 (the last one before merger with Playhour), I borrowed them from http://www.artofdiving.co.uk – a brilliant blog owned by someone who runs it combining his two hobbies – scuba diving and comics/illustration. 

And here are the pages from Playhour issues cover dated 17 and 24 December, 1960; the Harold Hare story and the one below have certain similarities, don't you think? 

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Here is part two of the article by John Wigmans covering the genesis of Gulliver Guinea Pig. Check out the previous post if you missed the first part.

The First Steps of an Unlikely but Very Likeable Hero: Gulliver Guinea-Pig (Part 2)
by John Wigmans

As it turns out, Gulliver didn’t start his travels in Playhour dated 24 May 1958 (No. 189). As far as I now know, his real debut was in Tiny Tots dated 17 May 1958 (No. 1298), as part of The New Nursery Rhymes. The tiny traveller also featured in an illustrated but uncredited three-page story included in the Tiny Tots Annual for 1959. Annuals were prepared many months before publication, and I am quite sure the text and the drawings were completed in the spring of 1958. This annual went on sale in September/October 1958, but it was presented as the annual for 1959.

Furthermore, I think that these three earliest adventures of the little explorer were written and illustrated almost simultaneously, within a couple of weeks, days even, most likely in March or April 1958. Which story really was the first to be produced – the true genesis of Gulliver Guinea-Pig, is of little importance. Unless other information surfaces, Gulliver made his first steps in the following publications (in chronological order):

- Tiny Tots dated 17 May 1958, No. 1298;
- Playhour dated 24 May 1958, No. 189;
- Tiny Tots Annual for 1959, on sale in September/October 1958.

All of these stories were written by David Roberts and beautifully illustrated by Philip Mendoza. It is easy to see why Steve Holland wrote the following words about the artist and his contributions in Playhour on his BearAlley-blogspot: “Mendoza quickly found his forte, drawing a number of cover illustrations of anthropomorphic animals, a hugely popular sub-genre of nursery comics which often took the everyday and turned it into something magical. Animals with human characteristics had been a staple of British comics since the 1920s and the huge success of ‘Tiger Tim’. However, Mendoza’s were not the rounded, cartoony animals of Herbert Foxwell, nor the delicate water-coloured bunnies of Beatrix Potter, they were the more robust creatures of Ernest Aris. They had the spikes and ruffled fur of creatures that looked as if they could have actually just come from a hedgerow or corn field.

Steve continued: “In 1958, David Roberts, the assistant editor of Playhour, created a new character for the weekly paper’s back page, ‘Gulliver Guinea-Pig’, a roving world-traveller whose adventures on and off the map would run in the comic for over seven years. Roberts’ vivid imagination took Gulliver to countries around the globe, visiting friends and relatives and seeking adventure or warmth from a harsh winter. Once he had visited everywhere from Japan to darkest Africa, Roberts sent Gulliver to meet the inhabitants of Long-Ago Land, Rainbow Land and Nursery Rhyme Land. Over the years, Gulliver would climb Everest, fly to the Moon, fall through the screen of his TV and visit the land of fairy tales... all beautifully depicted by Phillip Mendoza in full colour until the strip was taken over by Gordon Hutchings in 1961.” (BA-blogspot, March 6, 2007: Philip Mendoza [Montague Phillip Mendoza])

Steve was equally clear about the skills of David Roberts: “The author of Gulliver was David Roberts, one of the unsung writers of British comics who was responsible for many of the best strips in Playhour, including a lot of centre-spread series and a number of other favourites like ‘Leo the Friendly Lion’ and ‘Princess Marigold’. Roberts had a marvellous flair for writing verses with just the right lightness of touch that worked so well with strips like Gulliver. The later strips had descriptive captions typical of the other strips in Playhour, one of the reasons why the early years of Gulliver are such a favourite. Coupled with the artwork by Philip Mendoza, the strip has an effervescence and charm that hasn’t been seen in comics for too long.” (BA-blogspot, December 23, 2006: Gulliver Guinea-Pig’s Happy Christmas)

And from Steve’s latest book, Forgotten Authors Volume 2, I took the following blurb: “David Roberts: Writer behind the weekly adventures of world travelling Gulliver Guinea-Pig and fairy tale heroine Princess Marigold, Roberts helped entertain and shape the minds of millions of youngsters as both a scriptwriter and creator of children’s magazines.” (BearAlleyBooks-blogspot, February 2, 2018).

Well, now we know that originally Gulliver was not created for Playhour. It is unclear (to me at least) why the strip was transferred so quickly from Tiny Tots to its companion paper. Six instalments of The Travels of Gulliver Guinea-Pig by the Roberts/Mendoza-team on the centre pages of Playhour (Nos. 189-194), in beautiful colours and with rhyming captions, were only the beginning of a long run in this nursery comic.

For over seven years the exciting adventures of our ‘roving world-traveller’ appeared on the back cover and the centre pages of Playhour. Those stories, however, are outside the scope of this article. I can only hope that Irmantas lives up to the promise he made here, on his own blogspot (January 5, 2018): “The quality of the artwork and the stories makes me want to do a detailed account of all Gulliver’s travels during the seven years of the strip’s existence (1958 – 1965)…” Then please do not forget to include the ‘prequels’ in Tiny Tots No. 1298 and the Tiny Tots Annual for 1959.

By the way, in spite of the revamp in October, 1957, Tiny Tots didn’t survive for long. Early 1959 the comic was incorporated with its companion paper Playhour. Apparently much to his regret, Bill Lofts wrote the following words about the demise of the weekly in The Collectors’ Digest of February 1959, No. 146:

As a special treat, here is a scan of another strip from the pages of Tiny Tots, again beautifully illustrated by Mendoza. He really was at the top of his game at the time. On the back page of No. 1327 (6 December 1958) young readers would find an episode of ‘The Town Mouse in the Country’. These lovely tales began in No. 1308 (26 July 1958), in full colour up to No. 1327 at least. Towards the end of Tiny Tots this strip was moved to an interior page and probably appeared in black-and-white and grey-wash. The last issue (No. 1334) had the adventures of Katie and her cousin Matilda on page 6.

Additional information and corrections are appreciated. A photograph of Philip Mendoza, taken in or around 1958, would be most welcome.