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Newspaper That Introduced Ginger Meggs Drops Comic 17 Months Before Strip’s Centennial

The Sydney Sun-Herald has dropped the Ginger Meggs comic strip without notice.

Steve Panozzo reports on the Ginger Meggs Facebook page this weekend:

Today, the editorial collective at the Sun-Herald decided to drop Ginger Meggs forthwith. It did not appear in the paper this morning, as it has for the last 99 years. They have not explained their decision to readers, nor did they contact artist Jason Chatfield about the change, which is, to say the least, lacking in even basic courtesy. The strip has been running since 1921 and is due to celebrate it’s 100th birthday in November next year. Nor does there appear to be any reason for the change – Ginger Meggs has been beautifully drawn and well-written for quite some time and there are certainly some lame imported strips occupying space in the comics section that could have been tossed instead. For many, Ginger Meggs is one of the only reasons they buy the paper! For many others, Ginger Meggs IS Australia!


above: the first Us Fellers with Ginger Meggs’ introduction

From the 2008 Sydney Morning Herald, when Jason Chatfield took over as cartoonist:

The legacy Chatfield continues began in 1921 when The Sunday Sun – progenitor of The Sun-Herald – introduced the nation’s first comic supplement, launching the golden age of Australian comic art.

For the new supplement that readers would call “the funnies”, cartoonist Jimmy Bancks was asked by editor Monty Grover to draw a comic strip about a little girl named Gladsome Gladys and a knockabout group of boys in a typical suburban setting.

Grover’s concept was that the boys would get into mischief and Gladys would come to their rescue.

In 1951, after a contractual dispute with The Sunday Sun, Bancks moved Ginger Meggs to a rival publication, taking 80,000 readers with him. Two years later, Bancks died suddenly, an unfinished Meggs strip on his drawing board. Bancks’s family was determined the strip would not die with him, and passed the baton on to Ron Vivian.

Vivian, in turn, would die at the drawing board, in 1972, to be replaced by Lloyd Piper.

In August 1978, Meggs came home to The Sun-Herald. “Readers who grew up with him will appreciate it,” The Sun-Herald editorial declared. “We are sure that something so essentially Australian will quickly seize the approval of the young as well.”

Lloyd Piper drew Meggs until his death in 1984, when James Kemsley took on the job. Under Kemsley’s hand, Ginger Meggs became popular worldwide and was syndicated in 120 newspapers and magazines in 32 countries. And like those before him, he would make Meggs a lifelong labour of love.

It is inexplicable that the newspaper that introduced Ginger Meggs on November 13, 1921 would drop the strip 17 months before the comic strip’s 100th birthday.

Jason Chatfield made a request to Ginger Meggs readers in Australia:

I’d appreciate you dropping an email to letters@smh.com.au to let them know what you think of them dropping an Aussie icon, Ginger Meggs from the Sun Herald today, a year shy of his 100th birthday.

 

Community Comments

#1 jason chatfield
June/15/2020
@ 10:26 am

Thank you for covering this. It is an ongoing development… we hope to have the strip reinstated so Ginger can celebrate his centenary on his home turf.
Your support is very much appreciated.
– Jason

#2 Kip Williams
June/15/2020
@ 6:25 pm

Aw, c’mon! Give the strip a fair trial.

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