Those Terrible Twins by Frank Holland
'Those Terrible Twins' (The Halfpenny Comic, 23 July 1898).

Frank Holland was a late 19th-century and early 20th-century British caricaturist and cartoonist. He goes down in history as one of the pioneers in British comics, creating various short-lived humorous text comics, of which 'Those Terrible Twins' (1898-1900) had the longest staying power. He also goes down in history for making the first comic strip revolving around a child character version of a media celebrity: 'The Leno Kids' (1898-1899). 

Early life and comics career
Frank Henry Holland was born in 1871 in Bromley by Bow Poplar, London. His father was a glass bottle packer and dressmaker. By 1891 Holland had worked himself up as a scenic artist. He was art editor for the illustrated magazine The Gleam, but drew his earliest comics for Illustrated Chips. In 1895 he published the comic strips 'Chips Colony' (1895) and 'Chokee Bill' (1895-1896) in this magazine. The latter series was popular enough to be featured in Comic Home Journal as well. Between 1897 and 1900 it appeared under the new title 'Chokee Bill and Area Sneaker' in Comic Cuts, followed by Jester and Wonder in 1904-1905. Holland published 'Spudkins and Balmpot' (1898) in The Funny Wonder, while 'Mr. Chips' Dreams' and 'Sandringham the Snake' (1902) appeared in Comic Home Journal. 

Cartoon depicting Lloyd George, Joseph Chamberlain and Winston Churchill (Reynolds News, 2 April 1922).

Those Terrible Twins
The same year Holland drew the gag comic 'Those Terrible Twins' (1898-1900) for The Halfpenny Comic, a comics supplement of Alfred Harmsworth's illustrated magazine Halfpenny Marvel. 'Those Terrible Twins' could be read on the front cover of each issue and featured the pranks and hijinks of two mischievous twin boys named Willy and Wally Wanks. The children were obviously inspired by Wilhelm Busch's 'Max und Moritz' (1866) and Rudolph Dirks' 'The Katzenjammer Kids' (1897-2006). Yet their adventures were more comparable to 'Max und Moritz' in the sense that it was still a text comic, with all text written underneath the images. Every episode was narrated from their own perspective, complete with misspelled words typical for boys of their age. But 'Those Terrible Twins' was far more political than Busch and Dirks' work ever was. In 1899 the Second Boer War broke out in South Africa between the British Empire and local South African rebels. In one storyline Willy and Wally actually travelled to the country to do their patriotic duty. They even meet Paul Kruger, president of the South African Republic, who orders them to be executed, but naturally the boys escape and win the day.

'A Gentle Reminder' (John Bull, London, October 1917).

The Leno Kids
In 1898 the comedian Dan Leno became the first media celebrity to create a comic strip and a magazine around himself: 'Dan Leno's Comic Journal'. While Leno wrote most of his texts personally, artists like Tom Browne, Charles Genge and Holland created the illustrations. Holland came up with a juvenile spin-off, 'The Leno Kids', which ran until the final issue of the magazine in 1899. This also marks the first example in history of a juvenile version of a media celebrity in comics format, paving the way for future comics by other artists such as Willy Linthout's 'Urbanus' (based on comedian Urbanus, 1982), Rogério Martins and Ridaut Dias Jr.'s 'Senninha' (based on race champion legend Ayrton Senna, 1994-2000), Ken H. Harrison's 'Robbie Rebel' (based on pop singer Robbie Williams, 2002-2008), Mauricio de Sousa's 'Ronaldino Gaucho' (based on association footballer Ronaldino Gaucho, 2006-2011) and Ivan Claeys and Patrick Van Oppen's 'De Avonturen van Tommeke' (based on cyclist Tom Boonen, 2007-2008). 

Frank Holland drew drew the recurring characters “Jimmer Squirm and Spooky the Sprat.”
'Jimmer Squirm and Spooky the Sprat'.

Later life and career
As the 20th century rolled along, Holland published in magazines like Fun and Big Budget. The latter magazine ran his comic strip 'Jimmy Squirm and Spooky Sprat' (1900), while he also assisted on Tom Browne's 'Airy Alf and Bouncing Billy', alongside other ghost artists like Ralph Hodgson. Frank Holland also drew the recurring characters 'Jimmer Squirm and Spooky the Sprat' in this magazine. He became art editor for the magazine The Gleam soon afterwards, where he created comics like 'Walter the Crocodile' (1901) and 'Hongree' (1902-1903). In 1904 he returned to Jester and Wonder, where readers could enjoy 'Ching Ching'. Between 1912 and 1913 he was also a cartoonist for the magazine John Bull and provided political carticatures for the newspaper Reynolds News from 1911 until 1922, after which he was succeeded by cartoonist SPI. Frank Holland passed away in Oxford in 1945, at the age of 73.

Those Terrible Twins in the Transvaal, by Frank Holland 1899

Those Terrible Twins in the Transvaal, by Frank Holland 1899
'Those Terrible Twins in the Transvaal' (1899).

Series and books by Frank Holland you can order today:


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