GINGER MEGGS, Jimmy Bancks’ brilliant Australian comic strip character, was my hero when I was a little girl.
The more I think about it the more I’m convinced that my love of reading and writing began when I followed Ginger Meggs from a very early age.
Ginger was a raggle taggle schoolboy who led his pack of mates and pets into all sorts of adventures. They stole fruit from the neighbourhood orchards, played tricks on other kids and their Mums and had an ongoing hate relationship with the headmaster at their school.
I suppose I was about six when I began looking forward to Ginger’s adventures each week-end in the Sydney Sunday Sun. My Dad would divide up the pages when the paper arrived. He’d read the news section, Mum the recipes and my sister and I would get the comics.
The colourful strips with the lively loose sketches of the red-haired hero were wondrous to me, and it wasn’t too long before my thirst for the written word took in books as well as comics, and I began to write little stories myself.
I was just twelve when I did a rewrite of Cinderella and sent it into the Sunday Sun children’s pages, then called ‘Sunbeams’. In my story Cinderella morphed into ‘Jetrella’ and rode off to the ball in a space ship. It won a ‘Sunbeams’ certificate and a few shillings.
I became one of those lucky people who developed a hobby as a child that was to remain important to me for the rest of my life. By fifteen I had a full time job doing it and worked as a journalist and corporate public relations manager for the next 45 years.
After retirement I did my first degree, choosing a BA with Creative Writing and Australian History majors, and have been writing short and long fiction ever since. See my writing blog here.
Ginger Meggs himself is still very much alive, albeit his founder Jimmy Bancks died in 1952 from a heart attack. Bancks’ little hero first saw the light of day when the artist worked for the famous Bulletin magazine and at the same time submitted to the Sydney Sun a strip called ‘Us Fellas’ in 1921.
The red-haired Ginger Meggs was one of the ‘fellas’, and soon gained a comic of his very own. This became one of Australia’s most popular strips. A string of other cartoonists have drawn the strip since Bancks’ death, and today Melbourne comic strip artist and comedian Jason Chatfield creates the strip.