There’s still plenty to enjoy in a Giles cartoon. Each one is an individual time capsule evoking how we used to live. Much of it still rings true today, but often the passage of years is laid bare by the decor, vehicles, or a politician’s name. These collections work their wonders because they take us back to times gone by, and all in the company of that larger than life family. Perhaps not a group you’d want to yourself in lockdown with.
The contents are divided up into sections, and each section is displayed historically. These include The Parrot, Stinker (with camera), Rupert Bear and Teddy Bears, Bewildered Baby George, Butch the Dog, Frogs, and Mice. To be fair, those are rather loose groupings, with the focus of one chapter typically spilling across most of the rest to the point of redundancy. Not that it makes the cartoons any less enjoyable. What is unfortunate is the accompanying text across the top of each page. Designed to give context to the cartoon decades later it can often be of help. But you get the impression that John Field was under time pressure to bang them out. Some simply describe the cartoon directly beneath them, rendering them superfluous to anyone actually bothering to look at the drawing.
It takes a long time to make your way through one of these collections. Regardless of the main thrust of the cartoon, the ancillary detail is absorbing, whether it’s the antics of the children, the shenanigans of a pet, or just the aftermath of chaos that transpired moments before. The family doesn’t age but the furnishings and vehicles do, not to mention the toys.
There’s so much to reveal and revel in if you’re willing to dedicate the attention they deserve.
And if you liked that: There are heaps of past collections available online. Go on, treat yourself.