Since his first appearance in the Us Fellers comic strip in Sydney’s Sunday Sun newspaper in 1921, Ginger Meggs and his loyal gang, girlfriend Minnie Peters and enemy Tiger Kelly have kept us company for over 90 years.
Ginger Meggs: Australia’s Favourite Boy explores the story of this much-loved comic character, from his creation in 1921 by Sydney artist James ‘Jimmy’ Bancks to his latest incarnation by current artist Jason Chatfield and along the way, how the loveable larrikin became an Australian icon.
The exhibition features original strips by Ginger’s ‘fathers’, Bancks and his successors Ron Vivian, Lloyd Piper, James Kemsley and Jason Chatfield, along with a wonderful collection of Ginger Meggs memorabilia.
“Born in Sydney to local artist Jimmy Bancks, Ginger Meggs has been enormously popular with generations of Australians and is still published in over 120 newspapers across Australia and around the world,” said Sydney Living Museums curator Anna Cossu.
“With his vivid red hair, larrikin boy charms and never-ending ability to get himself into and out of trouble, Ginger Meggs is a mischievous character whose everyday escapades echo the experiences of millions of Australian children.”
While ‘Ginge,’ as he is affectionately known and his loyal gang never grow a day older, the world around them has changed dramatically, and the exhibition explores how the comic strip has adapted to new eras under the pen of each artist.
“Ginger Meggs and his gang and their everyday trials and tribulations reflect the events and spirit of each of the decades in which he lived, brought to life by the artists of the time,” said Anna Cossu.
Throughout his lifetime, readers have seen Ginger Meggs evolve from the 1930s world of billycarts, wireless radios and cricket games played in the street to the computer-drawn strips of today in which Ginger laments the loss of internet connection.
Occasionally Ginger Meggs steps into the real world; he crossed the Harbour Bridge on its opening in 1932, the same year he met cricket hero Don Bradman. During World War II Ginger was drawn on sides of Australian airplanes and appeared in Army News, he was used in road safety campaigns in the 1950s and, controversially, entered the space age in the 1960s.
The world of Ginger Meggs continued off the page too with an array of commercial products and merchandise, from his own spin off Little Golden Book stories to dolls and clothing, songs and tableware. In the 1970s Ginger emerged in the works of celebrated Australian pop artist Martin Sharp, and a feature film released in 1982, along with a change in fathers from Piper to Kemsley, saw a resurgence in the resilient character’s popularity.
The exhibition will take visitors behind the scenes, exploring how Bancks and his successors created their comic strips, and also enable visitors to try their hand at drawing Ginger Meggs. Plus a display of original and reproduction Ginger Meggs comic strips by all of the artists will appeal to visitors of all ages.
“Ginger Meggs: Australia’s Favourite Boy will be a nostalgic look back at one of our most popular and much-loved comic characters, a lovable larrikin who continues to endear red-heads to our hearts,” said Anna Cossu.
Ginger Meggs: Australia’s Favourite Boy
Museum of Sydney, Corner Bridge and Phillip Streets, Sydney
Exhibition: 25 July – 8 November 2015
Free entry (after general museum admission)
For more information, visit: www.sydneylivingmuseums.com.au for details.
Image: Sunbeams Book Series 13: More Adventures of Ginger Meggs. Cover, 1936. Private Collection / Sunbeams Book Series 27: More Adventures of Ginger Meggs. Cover, 1950. Private Collection.