Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lost dog column. 

After many years, the Melbourne Herald Sun has quietly dropped Alex Graham's Fred Bassett.

If Snoopy was the eternal child amidst the baseball playing field and the piano practice room of a 1950s American childhood, Fred was the amiable uncle in a comfortable suburb somewhere in Britain - probably Scotland - in a similar era.

Snoopy's world was a sometimes frightening rough and tumble playground, with children of all types - bossy Lucy, loser Charlie, anxious Linus, intellectual Schroeder, the ever-smudged Pigpen and, of course, the eternally unreachable little red-headed girl. No wonder Snoopy wandered off into his own imagination frequently as the flying ace, the author and other personae.

On the other hand, Fred's world was mainly an adult one of comfortable interiors and an ordered life. No kennel-roof for Fred, he wanted - and got - the chair. Of course, he would never say no to walkies and some of Graham's best images were of a kind of autumnal suburban Britain with windswept streetscapes, autumn leaves falling, the adults hatted and scarved, Fred in his tartan coat and the occasional venture onto a golf course.

While Fred was 'almost human', he also, being a dog, needed 'dog time' and here Jock the irascible Scottie, among others, made frequent appearances.

The Herald Sun occasionally received letters from readers complaining that Fred Bassett wasn't funny.

Fred Bassett and his world wasn't about the 'joke' but how do you explain that to people?

Most of all, Fred Bassett lived in a beautifully drawn world.

He still does, of course.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Poor old Fred Basset! I'm sorry he's gone, though I can see why he was so misunderstood of late - he was left over from another, gentler era, and the humour was always about restrained and wry in a British way. I always enjoyed Graham's work in Punch as well - a style not dissimilar to Thelwell at times.

For some reason I tend to think of Fred as similar to the dog characters in The Perishers, which is now long forgotten. In my Busker Strip I stuck with the Fred convention of talking people and thinking animals, which works pretty well.

As as strip, I certainly don't think Fred Bassett was any more tired or outdated than Garfield, which is still heavily hyped and promoted these days! It would be nice if they replaced him with an Australian strip though...
Ian, I still miss Bluey and Curly and The Potts. Not old enough for Ginger Meggs though!
James Kemsley is drawing Ginger Meggs these days, and it's still going great guns!
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?