Collection: Vintage Giles Comic Books

 Carl Giles, Britain's Greatest Social Cartoonist 

How and why did the Giles Family first come about? During the war, Giles had great fun with his mocking depictions of the Nazi and Fascist leaders. However, by the end of that conflict, Giles realised that most of his favorite wartime characters were now dead. ‘I sure hated to see old Musso go”, Giles later admitted: “He was half my bloody stock-in-trade.” So out of necessity, he needed a new cast of characters who would represent post-war Britain.

“All my work for the Express up until then had been in wartime. All the characters were wartime characters, or people caught up in the war. Suddenly they were gone. I had lost them, Hitler, Mussolini, disreputable little Franco was still there, of course, Himmler, Goering, Goebbels. I remember writing to my wife, Joan, from Europe where I was a war correspondent. At the end of the letter, there was a PS which said: ‘I’ve just lost my best character, Musso.’ I drew the Family as something which could take their place.”

All of Giles's favorite characters were now either dead or in prison.

The initial focus of the new family was George, one of Giles’s wartime soldier characters, who, having demobbed and returned to civilian life, became simply known as ‘Dad’. The first recognisable appearance of the Giles Family was in the Sunday Express on 5 August 1945. From then on in, they were shown reacting to the post-war difficulties of exhausted cash-strapped war-torn Britain. The Family proved so popular that in August 1947, the Daily Express ran a series of cartoons introducing the different characters to its readers. In some ways, the slightly sinister-looking family seems to have been partly based on the Adams Family cartoon series, drawn by Chas Addams, which had been running in the New Yorker since 1938. After that, as Giles recalled, “the Family took on a life of its own almost immediately”.