A Celebration of Giles - Annual Details
Title First Annual
Original Price 3/6
Date Cartoons Start 03/10/1943Date Cartoons End 15/11/1945
Number of Cartoons 154
Published by Lane PublicationsISBN 

Introduction by - John Jordan - Editor of the Sunday Express

I CANNOT claim to have discovered Giles—l wish I could—but I can claim to have put him into the lift which whizzed him up swiftly to the dizzy heights of national fame, and I hope when the day of reckoning comes that will be held in my favour.

I think it should be. For Giles is what I call "a spreader of happiness", and such men are the salt of the earth.

He makes you see the fun in life. He makes you laugh and forget your troubles. In this all too sombre world such men are rare and precious. We love them, cherish them, and give our hearts to them, which is a much more sensible thing to do, it seems to me, than making a god of some political sourpuss who achieves a sort of ecstasy by pouring gloom upon us.

When I first fell under the Giles spell he was cartooning for Reynolds News and was pretty well unknown. He seemed to me brilliant from the moment I saw his work. I determined to add him to my staff, to set him alongside the incomparable Nathaniel Gubbins and the others.

I will tell you frankly that the transfer was not an easy matter. Geniuses, as everyone like myself who has to drive a team of them knows, are “Kittle Cattle,” as they say In Scotland. Sometimes you coax them, sometimes you drive them, sometimes they cry on your knee and sometimes they almost drive you to crying on theirs. But by and large they have one attribute in common. At the start, at least, whatever change may come over them later, they are not susceptible to money persuasion. You can’t bribe them.

Giles was like that. He was making very little money indeed. I took the lid off Aladdin’s Cave and let him peep in. All he kept on saying was, “I am very happy where I am. I would be very unhappy if I changed.”

Well, they say water wears away a stone. Certainly it took much water and other liquids to wear down this particular stone, but in the end, as I determined it should be in the beginning, I transferred it from the other brook to mine.

It would probably be true to say, and I think Giles would agree with it, that having made the change he became for a time a very unhappy man. He missed the old familiar faces and the old comfortable setting. He was uncertain, diffident and thoroughly miserable.

Then all of a sudden he changed. The old certainty of touch returned. The sad grey eyes began to twinkle again behind the heavy spectacles. One day I heard him laugh uproariously at one of his own jokes.

What caused the change? The usual thing. Readers had begun to write to him in masses telling him how much they Uked him. Then people began to write to him in masses telling him how much they liked him. Then people began to write and ask for the originals. Giles was “home and dry”.

I think that in his own particular line of cartoon Giles is without an equal in Britain to-day. Indeed I know no better in all the world.

He has that greatest of all gifts of genius, the common touch. He knows the common people, their troubles, their foibles, their joys and their aspirations. He is, in fact, the common man.

But he is something more than just a cartoonist. Study his work closely and you find rather to your surprise that he is a great artist as well. A really great artist. His backgrounds are perfect in structure, in detail and in balance. His figures have the poise that makes them just right.

You sense that far and above the trick of cartooning, here is a man who loves drawing and lavishes love as well as labour upon it, seeking always artistic perfection, not merely the performance of a job of work.

Some day I hope we shall be able to print his cartoons in colour in the Sunday Express. Then the astonishing gifts of the man will be even more evident to millions of his admirers. For in colour, as he has done them for me at times to my great joy, his cartoons become really entrancing pictures, as you will gather in some degree from the cover of this book.
What is Giles like? Well, in a crowd, he could hide as a man of no importance. He is slight, his fair hair is usually extremely untidy, he peers at you with a quizzical-puckered face, and he usually wears a pair of wide uncreased baggy trousers, and often a leather golfing jacket. He certainly gives you no impression of being a great and successful man.

He loathes town and prefers the quieter sociability of lpswich. All around that town I am told he is a familiar and well-liked figure as he moons about, seeking detail which one day will become part of a cartoon.

And finally the people in his cartoons, those odd children and those even odder grown-ups. When I looked at them first I laughed at them, but was inclined to say, “They are amusing but they certainly are not people.” But I was wrong. I know it now. For whenever I pass along the street I look at the people and I say, “After all Giles is right. Every face is a Giles face.” Try it yourself.

This is the first Giles book ever published. It is published because his admirers demanded it. It is the first annual record of the work of a young man who became a national figure in one short year, which, as the saying has it, “is going some”. But I am sure he is only at the beginning of his career.

Cover Illustration - Click on the image to show a larger version

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A replica of this annual was printed in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Each one was numbered and in a slip case.

Price = £14.95, Publisher = Pedigree Books, ISBN = 1-874507-39-2

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