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Comic Strip / The Perishers

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The Perishers was a long-running British newspaper comic strip, appearing in the Daily Mirror from about 1959 until its final cancellation in 2006. The strip was mostly written by Maurice Dodd, who also worked as an advertising copywriter. In actual fact, Dodd was neither the strip's creator, nor its original writer — the strip was jointly created by its original artist Dennis Collins, and the Daily Mirror's entertainments editor, while its first writer, Ben Witham got fired within weeks after the first few strips were regarded as dismally unfunny — but his name has always been the one most closely associated with the strip. Until 1983 it was drawn by Dennis Collins, in a highly detailed style which subsequent artists could never quite match. As of 2010 the Mirror is reprinting 1960s strips with Collins' art and new colouring, somewhat squashed to fit a modern comic page and containing some updates to topical material - e.g., Maisie's references to "That nice Mr. Wilson" are now directed to "That nice Mr. Cameron".

The strip features a group of urban schoolchildren and a dog. As such it is sometimes described as a British equivalent of Peanuts, although it has a very different art style and relies on quirkily British humour in the tradition of music hall and Spike Milligan (Charlie Brown and Snoopy were featured since the late 50s in the Daily Sketch and the Daily Mail since the 1970s).

See also this website and The Other Wiki's Article.


The Perishers provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Tatty Oldbitt.
  • Art Evolution: One specific example discussed in the Boot-themed strip collection The Tale of a Tail is that, as Boot was identified as an Old English Sheepdog after originally being drawn with a tail, the art was carefully and gradually altered over time to reduce and then eliminate his tail.
  • Bad Liar: "Poor Girl", a kid who tries to plead poverty as an excuse for getting Wellington (who really is poor) to part with all his birthday presents. Never mind that she has a poor butler, maid, chauffeur etc. and wears a fur coat she got from the impoverished furriers.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In one 1960s strip Maisie found Wellington leaning against a wall, and assumed that as soon as she took his place the wall would fall on her. She did it anyway, "just to go along with the gag", and a lampppost fell on her instead.
  • Advertisement:
  • Cigar Chomper: Fiscal is always chomping on a chocolate cigar, as part of the general millionaire stereotype.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Marlon and occasionally Boot - the latter frequently believed himself to be an 18th century Lord transformed into a dog by a vengeful gypsy.
  • Comic-Book Time: Lampshaded by Wellington in one New Year strip, when he notices that he and his friends never seem to get any older.
  • Depending on the Artist: After Dennis Collins retired, Maurice Dodd drew the strip for over a decade, but it was obvious that his drawing skills weren't really anywhere near those of Collins. The third and final artist, Bill Mevin didn't quite pull off a perfect imitation of Collins, but it was a pretty good one nonetheless.
  • The Ditz: Marlon.
  • Free-Range Children: especially when they go on holiday without adult supervision.
  • Garden-Hose Squirt Surprise: One mid-60s strip had Wellington asking Maisie to inspect the end of a hose while he went to adjust the "hydro control valve".
  • Hollywood Magnetism: There's a strip where Wellington is demonstrating a magnet to Marlon, and he turns it backward so it will repel things. In reality, magnets will only repel other magnets, and only when their like poles are facing each other.
  • It's Been Done: On one occasion Marlon took up inventing for a hobby. When his friends pointed out that his inventions (fire, the wheel and the horse and cart) had all been invented by other people, he wasn't worried because he invented them quicker and was therefore catching up.
  • Minor Living Alone: Wellington lives alone in a squat with his dog, even managing to go to school with the other kids. Before moving into the squat, he and Boot lived in a section of concrete sewer pipe that had been left lying around in a closed builder's yard.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The kids lived in Croynge, which suggests a South London district modelled on Croydon and Penge.
  • Once a Season: Once a year, the gang would go off to the beach for a holiday, and Boot the dog would wander off to peer into a particular rockpool to see if it still had crabs living in it. Cue a string of strips about the crabs, who had developed a religion based on the recurring phenomenon of the Eyeballs in the Sky.
  • Parental Abandonment / There Are No Adults: it is never made clear which.
  • Parody Religion: The crabs have one, worshipping Boot on his regular visits, although most of their leaders are just in it for the money. Said religion also comes complete with a skeptic movement trying to disprove the existince of the Eyeballs in the Sky.
  • Personal Raincloud: Wellington. He sometimes exploits it by standing in his rhubarb patch when it's about to rain on him.
  • The Pig-Pen: Dirty McSquirty.
  • Really Gets Around: Tatty Oldbitt, the Sailors' Friend.
  • Red Ones Go Faster: Marlon was once convinced that his go-kart was faster because Wellington had painted a red stripe on it. Wellington alternated between very obviously humouring him and wondering what was in the paint.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Pretty rare, but Wellington and Boot moving into an abandoned railway station bulding is made possible by the fact that that nice Dr. Beeching had closed down the line it was on.note 
  • Rules of Orphan Economics: Mixture of Type 1 and Type 3 in Wellington's case. It's never quite explained how Wellington and Boot survive, but quite obvious they're poor and there isn't much food (except when Boot nicks the odd string of sausages) and that Wellington's friends give him handouts. That's not to mention when Wellington tries to make money by trying to fob Marlon off with yet another go-kart (much to Maisie's dismay) or trying to remind the other kids it's his birthday (and presents should be given).
  • Running Gag: The strips penned by Ben Witham generally had Boot making some remark about "these perishing kids," usually in the last panel. This was quickly dropped by Maurice Dodd when he took over the writing duties. It resurfaced in the title sequence to the animated series.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: it seems Wellington can live quite happily technically homeless without them interfering. He even goes to a school which doesn't check up on him. Possibly subverted when Wellington has to substitute crying out for the "Welfare lady!" instead of his "Mother!" (he doesn't have one).
  • Speech Bubble: Baby Grumpling speaks in lower-case; Adolf Kilroy the Teutonic Tortoise speaks in Fraktur (German copperplate).
  • Theme Naming: Wellington and his dog, Boot
  • Those Two Guys: Fred the beetle and The Caterpillar.
  • Thought Bubble Speech: used by the dogs, but not by the crabs or insects.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Marlon's inch-thick ketchup sandwiches - possibly the only sandwich to have a blast radius.
  • The Unseen:
    • In the 1960s, Bully Bloggs, Wellington's arch-nemesis.
    • Masie's rival Blossom McGinsberg.
    • Dirty McSquirty's Cousin Worsoff started out as this. (Assuming he even existed, and wasn't an obvious contrivance by McSquirty.)
  • The Voice:
    • In the 1990s, Dirty McSquirty's Cousin Worsoff (the proverbial "person who's worse off than you"); never seen because he lives in the sewers and only communicates with his cousin via street drains.
    • The New Baby, only ever shown as a pram with thought bubbles.
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything