'The Adventures of Katie Country Mouse' (Harold Hare's Own Paper #20, 26 March 1960).

Philip Mendoza was a mid-20th century British comic artist, illustrator and political cartoonist who sometimes worked under the pseudonyms Flam or Flambo. He created newspaper comics like 'The Man You'd Like to Kick' during the 1910s and in 1942 he was the first comic artist to create a biographical comic about Winston Churchill. Mendoza created various adventure comics for Pendulum Publications and the Amalgamated Press. He is best remembered as the artist of various nursery rhyme comics such as 'Princess Petal' (1956-1959), 'Gulliver Guinea-Pig' (1958-1965), 'Katie Country Mouse' (1959-1964) and 'Winifred and Stephanie' (1969-1972).

Early life and work
Montague Phillip (sometimes spelled as "Philip") Mendoza was born in 1898 in Dalston, London. His father was a clerk of Spanish-Jewish descent who became the Keeper of the Jew's Burial Ground in Mile End, London. He was active as a painter and sculptor too. The Mendoza family moved to Tynemouth, Northumberland, but also lived in France, South America and Bournemouth. When Mendoza was 14 years old he became a pavement artist. During the First World War he served his country in the Army Service Corps. After the war he joined a theatrical poster printing company where he designed posters for advertising campaigns. It was during this period that he became a freelance illustrator. Under the pseudonym Flam he created the comic strip 'The Man You'd Like To Kick', which ran in the Sunday Express.

Political work
During the interbellum Mendoza was active as a painter in the London area. One of his paintings received the honour of being exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1939. He also made a name for himself as a political cartoonist who signed his work with the name "Flambo". Among his illustrated political books were 'Bullets for Baldwinism. Points against the Tory government from "the New Leader"' (1929) and 'Hail, Hitler! The Nazi Speaks to the World' (1934). During the Second World War he helped the war effort through illustrated posters for the British Ministry of Labour and the creation of Percy Vere, a character used to promote the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. He also drew an oblong propaganda comic book, 'The Early Life of Winston Churchill' (E.J. Burrow & Co., 1942), which is the earliest biographical comic about the iconic British Prime Minister to have ever been created. Mendoza published illustrations in The Evening Standard, Lilliput and a huge number of political books and magazines.

After the war Mendoza became a paperback illustrator. For Scion Ltd. he illustrated various book covers under the pseudonyms Ferrari, Garcia, Gomez, Grimaldi and Zero. He did the same for Pan Books. He created the one-shot superhero comic 'The Mighty Atom' (1946), published by Denlee Publishing, and in 1945 illustrated 'Yours Fraternally' (1945), the autobiography of trade unionist Arthur Peacock, for Pendulum Publications. Mendoza created the silhouette figure on the back cover of every 'Hank Janson' crime fiction novel. For the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers the artist illustrated 'The Building Workers' Struggle' (1950).

'Captain Vigour'.

His productivity increased from 1951 on, when he drew for various comic books by the Amalgamated Press. Among them adaptations of 'Robin Hood', 'Ali Baba' and 'The Three Musketeers' for Thriller Comics, 'The Island of Fu Manchu' for Super Detective Library and western tales starring Kit Carson for Cowboy Comics. While most of the content was child-friendly, Mendoza could be quite bold if people pushed him into that direction. When a writer asked him to draw a Native American "eating some nameless horror" Mendoza drew an Indian devouring a baby's arm! Naturally this image had be changed. In the newspaper The Sun one could read Mendoza's 'The Golden Whistle', 'The School Against Him', 'The Martian' and 'Jak of the Jaguars' (1952), about a man raised by of jaguars. For The Comet he drew 'Strongbow the Mohawk' and 'The King of the Khyber Rifles', while Top Spot featured his darkly comical 'Old Mendoza's Horror-Scope' (1959).

He was furthermore present in 'Captain Vigour' (1952-1953), a comic book issued by Sports Cartoons. Mendoza drew most of the early stories about this "Strongman of Sport" and his search for athletic talent throughout Britain and the Commonwealth. Later, Jim Holdaway succeeded Mendoza as the artist. In between he also worked on the newspaper comic 'Paul Temple' for the London Evening News, which was based on the detective novels by Francis Durbridge and originally drawn from 1954 by Alfred Sindall. Other artists who drew this comic strip adaptation were Bill Bailey and John McNamara.

'Gulliver Guinea-Pig' (Playhour, 3 September 1960).

Nursery comics
In the mid-1950s Mendoza became more well known as a creator of paintings, illustrations and text comics intended for very young children, most published by the Amalgamated Press. He drew 'Princess Petal' (1956-1959) for the Playhour Annuals, and 'Gulliver Guinea-Pig' (1958-1965), 'The Seven Dwarfs' and 'Children of the Forest' for Playhour. Of these, 'Gulliver Guinea-Pig' (1958-1965), writer by editor David Roberts, is the most fondly remembered. It's the story of a little guinea pig who travels the world to see various exotic places, both real as well as fictional. In 1961 Gordon Hutchings succeeded Mendoza and continued the series for the next four years. Mendoza also created 'The Nursery Rhymes of Katie Country Mouse' (1959-1964) which debuted on 31 January 1959 in Tiny Tots. The character was loosely based on Aesop's fable of 'The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse', though Katie's stories were written by George Allen, John Gill, David Roberts and others. From 14 November 1959 on Katie County Mouse appeared in a spin-off, 'Katie Mouse', on the back cover of each issue of Harold Hare's Own Paper. When Tiny Tots and Harold Hare's Own Paper fused into Jack and Jill on 23 May 1964 the comic strip continued, but Mendoza left it to the hands of Harold Tamblyn-Watts.

By 1963 Mendoza illustrated various classic children's novels for the weekly educational children's magazine Treasure. The same publication also ran the comic strip 'Tufty', which taught young readers about safety precautions. Between 1966 and 1967 a short-lived childrens' magazine called TV Toyland came out, featuring mostly comics and stories based on popular British children's TV series. Mendoza drew 'All At Sea' ("with Captain Ruff and the jolly crew of the Mathilda") and 'Rolf Harris and Coojibear' for this publication, the latter based on 'The Rolf Harris Show' (1967-1974). TV Toyland merged with Playhour in 1967, where 'All At Sea' continued. In 1969 Mendoza could already be found in a new nursery rhyme magazine, Once Upon A Time, where he illustrated another text comic about cute little female mice from the countryside and the city, 'Winifred and Stephanie' (1969-1972). The stories, like nearly all content in Once Upon A Time, were written by Barbara Matthews.

Later life
Unfortunately Philip Mendoza suffered from alcoholism during the final years of his life. This made him miss his deadlines and occasionally leave his artwork unfinished. His editor was sometimes forced to send someone to his house to pick up the drawings. At the office other artists had to draw panel borders and complete the rest of the illustrations in order to have it printed. Philip Mendoza passed away in 1973.

'All at Sea' (TV Toyland #10, 30 July 1966).

Phil Mendoza on the Bear Alley

Series and books by Philip Mendoza in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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