The Perishers

This article is about the British comic strip. For the cartoon series based on the comic strip, see The Perishers (TV series). For the Swedish indie rock band, see The Perishers (band).
The Perishers
Author(s) Maurice Dodd
Current status / schedule Concluded / Reprinted
Launch date 19 October 1959
End date 10 June 2006
Publisher(s) International Publishing Corporation
Genre(s) Comedy

The Perishers was a British comic strip about a group of urban children and a dog. It began in the Daily Mirror on 19 October 1959 and was written for most of its life by Maurice Dodd (25 October 1922 – 31 December 2005). It was drawn by Dennis Collins until his retirement in 1983, after which it was drawn by Dodd and later by Bill Mevin. After Dodd died, the strip continued with several weeks' backlog of strips and some reprints until 10 June 2006. The strip returned, again as reprints, on 22 February 2010,[1] replacing Pooch Café.

Many Perishers strips are polyptychs—a single continuous background image is divided into three or four panels and the characters move across it from panel to panel. The story is set in the fairly drab fictional town of Croynge (sometimes spelled Crunge), which is apparently a South London borough. The name is a portmanteau of Croydon and Penge. The location often resembles an industrial Northern town and may have its roots in how Croydon, Penge and the towns between them appeared in the 1950s. Collins's artwork in particular gives the town detailed, realistic architecture and a consistent geography.

The first strip from 19 October 1959.

Thematically, the strip draws upon nostalgia for childhood experiences and often has a static, almost limbo-like atmosphere, in a similar manner to its companion strip, Andy Capp. The main characters largely exist independently of 'the real world', and adults are rarely seen; for example, every year the Perishers go on holiday but always get thrown off the train home, forcing them to walk and arrive home several weeks late (a joke on how a short scene in comic book time can take several weeks when told in daily installments), yet with seemingly no repercussions.

Main characters


An impoverished orphan boy who lives with his dog, Boot. In the early days of the strip they lived in an approximately 10-foot (3 m) diameter concrete pipe section in a seemingly abandoned builder's yard. In 1966 he and Boot moved into a small railway station that had been closed by the Beeching Axe, and they have lived there ever since. Wellington takes his nickname from his trademark wellington boots – he cannot afford proper shoes. He named his dog Boot to go with Wellington.

Wellington is quite an intellectual and given to philosophical trains of thought. He can also be quite resourceful – he appears to support himself by selling handmade wooden buggies and pilfering food from sympathetic local shops, or convoluted schemes to create sudden crowds in order to celebrate his birthday on 25 October (which also happens to be Maurice Dodd's Birthday). Wellington can also be something of a worrier, always concerned that the world is going to rack an' rooney (rack and ruin). Over the years he has worried that the world is becoming clogged up with dirt, that people might get crushed by the weight of air above their heads, and that each new year might be the same old year recycled to save money. Actually there might be something in that; Wellington (unlike the majority of comic characters) has noticed that he and his friends never seem to get any older. On those rare occasions when he cheers up a small raincloud usually appears to dampen his spirits.


An Old English Sheepdog who lives with his boy, Wellington. Boot is a generally affable and mellow character, given to flights of fancy and daydreaming. In this respect, Boot is the UK equivalent of Snoopy from Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts strip. Boot is also convinced that he is in fact an 18th-century English lord enchanted into a dog by a gypsy wench (as he puts it, I knew I should have bought those damn clothespegs!) – the strip gives occasional hints that this is actually true as opposed to another fantasy. As a lord, he demands to be treated with respect, and often tells Wellington so to his face. Unfortunately Wellington only hears barking. Wellington thinks Boot is lazy and should help out with the household chores, but Boot usually manages to find some way to "accidentally" mess things up in the hope that he won't be asked again. He hates taking baths, and his bathtime struggles with Wellington usually turn into epic battles. Boot's favourite food appears to be links of sausages, and his attempts to consume these in advance of Wellington provide the basis of many episodes.

Boot was originally drawn with a short tail (on one occasion he met a bob-tailed sheepdog, and on hearing the name decided to call his own tail Fred), but Maurice Dodd later discovered that real Old English Sheepdogs' tails are docked, and so over the course of several years Collins drew his tail shorter and shorter until it vanished altogether – Boot still appears completely white, rare for the breed.

"Who is the Mother of Boot?" was a long-running mystery until a reader informed Wellington that Boot's dam was named "Cherry Blossom." ("Cherry Blossom" happens to be a brand of boot polish).


Marlon is not very bright, but this has not dampened his ambitions. He once tried his hand at inventing. The fact that most of his inventions – fire, the wheel, the horse and cart and so forth – had already been invented by someone else did not deter him, because he felt he was slowly catching up. He also claimed to have invented a "micro-stetho-deeposcope" – supposedly a high-tech instrument for probing deeply below the earth's surface, but which actually turned out to be a piece of broken mirror tied to a chair leg.

One of his culinary inventions did make a splash – literally: the inch-thick ketchup sandwich (subsequently renamed the 2.5 cm-thick ketchup sandwich when Marlon decided to go metric). The splash in question occurred whenever he bit into one, caused by a huge dollop of ketchup hitting whoever happened to be standing nearby. The sandwich is used as a recurring gag, occasionally replaced with other types of filling for variety.

Marlon also dreams of becoming either a brain surgeon (which is spelt brane surgeon in his speech balloons), or "a bloke wot goes down sewers in big rubber boots" – he considers either career to be equally prestigious. In the meantime he spends his pocket money on Wellington's buggies, which usually results in a battle between Wellington's persuasive skills and Maisie's desire for him to spend the money on her.


An adorable little girl – at least, according to her. In fact, she is somewhat unfeminine and has a tendency to become violent if she doesn't get her own way, with a scream that can stun woodworm. She is scared of insects and spiders; on one occasion, when Wellington tells her that the field they are walking through may contain thousands of hidden insects, she is too terrified to move. She is in love with Marlon and continues to pursue him despite his continual resistance – their relationship has been described as a one sided love triangle. She imagines herself and Marlon as the heroine and hero of a romantic novel – he bold as a hawk, she soft as a dove. In reality, of course, she is tough as nails and he is thick as a plank. Maisie bears resemblance to Lucy in Charles Schulz's Peanuts strip. The British actress Maisie Williams was christened Margaret but has always been known as Maisie, after the character.[2]

Baby Grumpling

A toddler, possibly named after the "Baby Dumpling" character in the US comic strip Blondie. In the early days of the strip he did not speak, because he knew that once he started he would be expected to keep talking all the time. When he finally began to speak he did so in lower-case letters. In the early days of the strip he was not related to the other characters, but was later revealed to be Maisie's little brother (a retcon – in an earlier strip Maisie had referred to Baby Grumpling's parents as if they were not her own). He enjoys causing mischief by digging holes in the garden (which he always blames on worms, a significant part of his diet, or moles) and by putting insects into Maisie's underwear drawer. He used to think that school was a kind of prison from which the older Perishers were temporarily released each evening.

He often discusses philosophy with the new baby (an unseen character in a pram). He is also frequently seen questioning the plausibility of fairy tales or nursery rhymes read out by Maisie, while at the same time vandalising an alarm clock or other household item. His teddy bear Gladly (short for "Gladly, my cross-eyed bear") puts in occasional appearances.

Recurring characters

Not all of these characters appeared during the same time periods

This character last appeared in the summer of 1983 and it is said upon his 1984 take-over of the Daily Mirror that Robert Maxwell, a Czech whose family was murdered by Nazi German troops, objected to the Kilroy/Hitler character appearing in the strip. Kiroy's shell was shaped like a German army helmet and also had a swastika dangling around his neck.

Catch phrases

This is a partial list of the phrases coined or made popular by the Perishers.

Final strip and editorial comment

A final, specially drawn strip appeared on the Daily Mirror's comic page on Saturday 10 June 2006. The strip depicts the silhouetted figures of Maisie, Baby Grumpling, Wellington, Boot and Marlon walking down a street into the sunset. Wellington says, "Well, dear readers, it's taken almost fifty years for you to see the back of us. In sayin' goodbye we hope that you remember us with the affecshun we feel for you." The tone of the strip is reminiscent of Charles M. Schulz's final Peanuts strip, from which the Perishers strip took its inspiration.

The strip was initially replaced by the short-lived Ronaldinho, during the then-ongoing World Cup. After the tournament, the American Pooch Cafe appeared as a more permanent replacement.


After a gap of nearly four years, the original cartoon strip returned to the Daily Mirror as reprints, on 22 February 2010.

Additionally, over the years there have been a number of cheaply printed reprint collections in paperback, all of which went out of print quickly.


In 1979, 20 5-minute animated shorts featuring the strip's characters were made by Bill Melendez Productions (coincidentally, the same studio behind the Peanuts animated specials) for the BBC.

LP record

Around 1980 an LP record album entitled THE PERISHERS SING! (WELL SORT OF) was issued by Response Records. The lyrics written by Maurice Dodd and the music by Trevor Evan Jones. An instrumental version of the final track "It's Great to be a Kid" was also the theme music for the animated TV version. Dodd's official website claims 12 songs were penned, but the finished album only contained 10 tracks. It featured narration by Bernard Cribbins, and also credits Nicky James and Barbara Sexton with vocals.

Track list

Side 1: 1. Ole Boot and Me (Wellington) 2. Battle of Vindaloo (B.H. Calcutta)* 3. Pervided I Get My Way (Maisie) 4. Eyeballs in the Sky (the Crabs)* 5. Dreaming (Wellington)

Side 2: 1. Boot (Boot)* 2. At Least We've Got Each Other (Wellington) 3. Speed Demon (Marlon) 4. Für Adolf (Adolf Kilroy) 5. It's Great to be a Kid (all the kids)


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