Teddy Tail by Mary Cadogan

     All you need to know about books at www.booksmonthly.co.uk                                                     Issue 4 July 2008


 Feature Articles & Stories

     Enid Blyton's Famous Five

     Interview with Elizabeth George

     The Last Realm

     The Astor Chronicles

     Interview: Amanda Greenslade

     Short story: Hit and Miss

     Serial: Through a Glass Darkly

     Owen Owen's Picture for July

     Features Archive

 Publishers' July Titles

The menu is self-explanatory - try it and see for yourselves. The magazine is arranged into three main sections, REVIEWS, FEATURE ARTICLES and STORIES, and NEW & COMING SOON TITLES. The latter section is a little like a bookshop where you can browse what's new for this month, but it is arranged by Publisher, as this is the easiest way for me to do it. Let me knowwhat you think...

If you were lucky, and you're a dad, you might have received a copy of this fantastic book on Father's Day! Neil Oliver, the historian from the smash BBC series COAST, retells the stories that inspired us to be better men during the last century. He laments... more

Amanda Greenslade is a fantasy writer, like me (except she's young enough to be my granddaughter, and therefore has time on her side!). Her ASTOR CHRONICLES look fantastic, and I hope it won't be long before she finds a publisher. In the meantime, there's an interview with Amanda in this issue, together with information on TALON, the first book in the series.

KELLEY ARMSTRONG's latest book, THE SUMMONING, is so good I had to give it joint book of the month in the fantasy section; Kelley never lets you down, and this is a terrific read, chilling and entertaining at the same time - don't miss it!

And don't forget to let me know what you think of this issue of BOOKS MONTHLY ~ you can e-mail me at editor@booksmonthly.co.uk

Last weekend the fourth INDIANA JONES movie smashed box office records with takings estimated to be in excess of 148m - there are lots more great new Indy books reviewed in this issue, see the Feature Articles and Stories menu above

All of the titles listed or reviewed in Books Monthly are available from the store. Click on the Amazon logo to check availability as many are not yet published.


By Mary Cadogan

Originally written for the book TEDDY TAIL (published by Hawk Books)

Anthropomorphic animals have always hit a high note in British newspaper comic strips. Overflowing the "kiddies' corners" where they often kicked off, they seem to have appealed as strongly to adults as children. Although Teddy Tail was not the first furry newspaper cartoon hero, his predecessors (notably Tiger Tim & Co in the 1904 Daily Mirror) were more spasmodic in their early appearances. The Daily Mail's astoundingly resilient rodent achieved the distinction of starring in Britain's first daily strip. Launched on 5th April 1915, Teddy Tail of the Daily Mail became a byword; his career spanned forty-five years, while his popularity (and the battle for increased circulation) was to inspire the creation of other animal strip heroes, including Pip, Squeak and Wilfred in the Daily Mirror, Bobby Bear in the Daily Herald, and Rupert Bear in the Daily Express.

            With a short gap during the Second World War Teddy's colourful and engaging antics were to continue until 1960. His originator was Charles James Folkard an artist then already well known for his illustrations of nursery literature and children's classics which deftly blended naturalism with elements of caricature. A man of many talents, he started out as a conjuror and later wrote several plays and pantomimes for children. Folkard stuck with the strip until the later ninetween-twenties, when his brother Harry took over.

            By the early 'thirties' the Mail had found a way for its magnificent mouse to pull in still more readers. A give-away comic starring him was issued with the paper from 8th April 1933. This large and lively Boys and Girls Daily Mail ran for four and a half years, appearing at various periods once, twice and even three times a week. Its popularity and indeed Teddy Tail's nineteen-thirties heyday owed a great deal to the fact that  from November 1933 Herbert Sydney Foxwell took over the strips. Foxwell had been drawing for the Amalgamated Press papers from 1913 in My Favourite Comic, Comic Cuts and Puck and had become celebrated for his splendidly bright and bold depiction of Tiger Tim and his assorted animal mates in Rainbow, Tiger Tim's Tales, Tiger Tim's Weekly and Playbox.

            There was a flourishing Teddy Tail league which was featured prominently in the comic. Members proudly wore its red and black enamelled badge, acknowledged each other by making its secret sign, and were sent full colour Foxwell designed cards on their birthdays. Mousey merchandising spin-offs proliferated from jigsaws and cut-outs to biscuits and books. The Teddy Tail Annual, appearing from 1934 to 1942 and then between 1949 and 1962, was a wonderfully satisfying enhancement of any child's Christmas. Foxwell's covers, endpapers and strips for it during the thirties are gems of illustrative exuberance. Sadly this gifted artist died of natural causes in 1943, while only in his early fifties. (He was on military service at Aldershot, and had been an army officer in both world wars). Teddy's exploits were temporarily halted by hostilities, but he bounced back into the Mail  in 1946, and was then drawn until the end of his run in the paper and annuals by Arthur Potts and W.J.T. Glenn.

            His character development is fascinating. Folkard started him off as a half-animal and half-human boy; no-one seemed to find it strange that he soon became encased in Eton suits and collars (a garb then used throughout his career).

            In Folkard's strips (which were reprinted in hard covers between 1915 and 1926) Teddy is skinny and slightly spikey. He engages in time shifts, trips to fairyland, other exotic locations and is often accompanied by the rather mysterious insect, Dr. Beetle. When Foxwell took over he rounded Teddy out and gave him a similar setting to that which had worked so well for Tiger Tim a boarding school with a teacher-cum-surrogate mother (in this case Mrs. Whislers) in charge. He built up Teddy's friendships with his school-mates Kitty Puss, Piggy and Dougie, the baby duck. Cosiness became the keynote; the Whisker Pets were adventurous, but in the carefully controlled confines of home and nursery school the familiar world of Teddy's most youthful fans. Foxwell made him mischievous but never malicious; he was also extremely competent, driving cars and piloting aeroplanes with panache, but most of all enjoying pranks and parties and lots of play (no-one seemed to study hard at Mrs. Whisker's school) in that timeless world of childhood in which we can still delight.



Books Monthly (formerly Gateway Monthly) is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. You can contact me via e-mail at: editor@booksmonthly.co.uk. If you'd like to get a story published in Books Monthly just e-mail it to me and I'll consider it - no payment though, I'm afraid!