Mr Bump by Roger Hargreaves
Mr. Bump

Roger Hargreaves was a British children's book illustrator, famous for a series of books about little men and women drawn in simple, round shapes, known as the 'Mr. Men' and 'Little Miss' series. His characters inspired a long-running franchise of books, dolls, toys, T-shirts, TV shows and... comics. More than 85 million copies of his books have been sold and translated all over the world.

Charles Roger Hargreaves was born in 1935 in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire as the son of a laundry and dry-cleaning store owner. At the age of 18 he left school to work in his father's company. After fulfilling his military service in the Royal Air Force he went to Amsterdam, where he worked as a concept artist in various advertising agencies. In 1970 he founded the reversal film company Slip City. In 1971 he wrote the first of his many signature children's books: 'Mr. Tickle' (1971). The book visualized the verb tickling through a little orange character with huge arms who went about tickling unsuspecting people. The book's success spawned similar titles about odd little men whose prime characteristic was usually suggested in their last name. His characters consist of simple round shapes and bright colours, which invites children to trace his drawings with ease. In 1981 Hargreaves created a feminine spin-off under the title 'Little Miss...'. About 46 'Mr. Men' and 33 'Little Miss' titles were created during his lifetime. The success enabled Hargreaves to quit his job and concentrate completely on his lifework.

Little Miss Twins by Harry Hargreaves
Little Miss Twins

His books were frequently adapted into animated children's TV series. In 1974-1978 an animated TV series was created by Terry Ward, spawning 28 episodes each 7 minutes in length. They had Arthur Lowe as narrator, best known as Captain Mainwaring in the sitcom 'Dad's Army' (1968-1977). In 1983 'Little Miss' received her own animated series as well, created by Trevor Bond and Terry Ward. Thirteen episodes were made, each 8 minutes in length, with narration by Pauline Collins and her husband John Alderton, both famous for playing Sarah Moffat and Thomas Watkins in 'Upstairs, Downstairs' (1971-1973). The 1994-1997 version of 'Mr. Men' by Marina Productons contained voice work by Geoffrey Palmer, Gordon Peters and Jill Shilling. A 2008-2009 adaptation for Cartoon Network by Renegade Animation and Mark Risley combined animation with live-action segments.

A comic strip version of Hargreaves' characters appeared in the pre-school comics magazine Playhour of the Amalgamated Press in the mid and late 1970s. A similar comic strip ran in the comics magazine Jack and Jill in 1984-1985. The artist of the these strips is unknown. In 1983 Al Vermeer's long-running newspaper gag-a-day comic 'Priscilla's Pop' (1946-1983) ended its run in The Daily Mirror. This created a void for for a new newspaper comic based on Hargreaves' succesful novels. 'Mr. Men and Little Miss' (1983-1988) was written and illustrated by Paul Sellers and Hargreaves himself. Apart from the Daily Mirror it also appeared in The Green Sheet and The Journal.

The 'Mr. Men' and 'Little Miss' series were translated in Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Greek, Hungarian, Hebrew, Taiwan, Korean and Chinese. The books are particularly popular in France, where writers Viviane Cohen and Evelyne Lallemand even collaborated with illustrator Colette David to create local versions which are only available in France or Greece. French comics company Éditions Jungle also published two comic book albums based on Hargreaves' creations: 'Monsieur Chatouille et les Fantômes' ('Mr. Tickles and the Ghosts', 2010) and 'Madame Bavarde et le Prince Charmant' ('Little Miss Chatterbox and Prince Charming', 2010) written and drawn by Jérôme Eho. In 2012 and 2013, Viz Media published a new series of comic books based on the 'Mr. Men' and 'Little Miss' characters. These were written by either Michael Daedalus Kenny or John Hardman, and illustrated by Gabriel Corbera, Victoria Maderna, Matthew Britton and Bryan Beach.


Timbuctoo - Trumpet's Trunk

Apart from the 'Mr. Men' series Hargreaves also wrote 26 'Timbuctoo' books between 1978 and 1979. Each book centers around anthropomorphic animals named after the sound they make. In 1998 they were adapted into an animated children's TV series by Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall's animation company Cosgrove Hall Films. The narration was provided by Ronnie Corbett, most famous as the smallest one of the comedy duo The Two Ronnies. Comic strips with the 'Timbuctoo' characters by a yet to be identified artist were published in the Pippin comic book and its annuals.

Roger Hargreaves passed away in 1988 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent from a stroke. His son Adam Hargreaves and his daughter Amelia Beddoe have continued the franchise. Adam writes and draws new stories, while Amelia takes care of the management.

Mr. Silly by Roger Hargreaves

www.mrmen.com

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