Tommy Cooper by Charlie Pease
'Tommy Cooper' (Film Fun, 21 July 1956).

A.T. Pease - AKA Charlie Pease - was one of the big names of mid-20th century British comics. With a career spanning from 1925 until his 1964 death, he mostly contributed to the comic papers of the Amalgamated Press, most notably Comic Cuts, Illustrated Chips and the celebrity comic magazines Radio Fun, TV Fun and Film Fun. Among his long-running features were 'Mighty Monk' (1930-1940), 'Plum and Duff' (1926-1953) and 'Dickie Duffer' (1932-1953). Between 1958 and 1964, he was also the third artist to continue the 'Billy Bunter' comic in Knockout and Valiant, while also continuing 'The Terrors of Tornado Street' (1961-1964) in Buster. One of the most popular Amalgamated Press artists of his generation, Pease's anonymously made work can be recognized by its loose and lively drawings and characteristic lettering. 

Early life
Albert Thomas Pease was born in 1905 in Hackney, London, as the son of bicycle maker Albert David Pease, who owned two cycle shops in London and Brighton. Albert Thomas owed his nickname "Charlie Pease" to the notorious 19th-century burglar and murderer Charles Peace. Albert's younger brother, H.E. Pease, later worked as a comic artist too. In 1915, Pease's father died in a motorcycle accident. Ten year old Charles was forced to leave school early and help out in the family bicycle store. In 1923, Charlie Pease got married, but divorced by 1931. In 1933, he married his second wife.

Amalgamated Press
Around 1924, Pease won a drawing contest organized by the Amalgamated Press. Shortly afterwards, he was hired by the publishing company as an errand boy. When one of the regular artists fell ill, Pease was asked to fall in on one of his single-panel cartoon features. He quickly became a regular artist for the AP titles himself, staying with the company for the rest of his life. At the start of his career, Pease's illustrations appeared in magazines like Comic Cuts, Illustrated Chips and Butterfly. Pease also wrote scripts for his colleagues, using an original technique for coming up with ideas. He marked two self-made spinning wheels with random words. When in search of a new plotline, he spinned the wheels and waited what word combination came up when they came to a halt. He then tried to build a script around these two words. Afterwards, he sketched out the stories on thin sheets of paper and sent them to his editor. The editor then suggested some changes or additions and sent everything back, after which Pease (or another artist) worked out the drawings and inked them. 

Sammy and Shrimp, by Charlie Pease 1944
'Sammy and Shrimp' (1944).

Comic Cuts
For many years, several Pease features ran in the weekly comic paper Comic Cuts, starting with 'Peter Parsnips' (1924), 'Wee Willie Winkle' (1925) and 'Darkie Mo and Jolly JuJu' (1926). His most prominent contribution was the military humor strip 'Plum and Duff: The Boys of the Bold Brigade' (1926-1930). By the time it moved to the front-page, in 1930, the artwork was taken over by Roy Wilson, who continued it until 1953. 'Felix the Fat' (1925-1928) - probably a pun on Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan's cartoon series 'Felix the Cat' - was started by Pease and later continued by Arthur Martin. During the 1940s, Charlie Pease also drew installments of Bertie Brown's comic antics of the two brothers 'Big Ben & Little Len (1940) and of Arthur Martin's 'Sammy and Shrimp, The Castaways of Crusoe Island' (1944).

Among Charlie Pease's shorter-lived Comic Cuts features were 'Julius & Sneezer' (1928), 'Manikin Mansions' (1932), 'Our Comic Cartoonist' (1932), 'Percy the Poet' (1933), 'Tinker & Tich' (1936) and 'Captain Clipper & Flipper' (1938). On 10 February 1951, his new feature 'Wizzo Ranch' - a "Gurgle-making Gang of Japers in the Wild and Woolly West" - appeared on the magazine's front-page. It continued until September 1953, when Comic Cuts merged into Knockout.

Laurie and Trailer by Albert Pease
'Laurie and Trailer' (1937).

Illustrated Chips
From 1926 until its final issue in 1953, the AP magazine with the most Charlie Pease contributions was Illustrated Chips. One of his early features was 'Buck an' Nero' (1926-1930), about two "Saucy Smugglers" sneaking around the English shores on Captain Dogsbody's ship the Jolly Roger. During the late 1920s and 1930s, he succeeded Bertie Brown on 'Film Struck Fanny' (1926-1933) - about a maid who tries to make the grade in the movies - and the zany detective feature 'Ivor Klue' (1936-1946). Another long-running Illustrated Chips feature by Charlie Pease was 'The Comic Jungle Capers of Monty Monk' (1930-1940), one of the magazine's rare funny animal series. On 5 October 1935, Pease launched 'Laurie and Trailer, the Secret-Service Lads' (1935-1953), about two special agents trying to snatch back the Secret Plans stolen by the fiendish spies from Sock-Suspenda. During the 1930s, Pease also drew the magazine's popular long-running single-panel 'Casey Court' cartoon feature. It featured a gang of poor children, who avidly try to earn heaps of money in their tenement courtyard through a series of ill-fated plans. Originally created in 1902 by Julius Stafford Baker II, 'Casey Coart' was continued by a host of artists from the 1920s until 1953, besides Pease including Walter Bell, M.C. Veitch, H. O'NeillLouis Briault and Allan Morley. Charlie Pease was the most notable of the lot, delivering crowded and highly detailed depictions of childhood imagination on a weekly base.

Casey Court by Charlie Pease
'Casey Court' (Illustrated Chips, 1932).

The Joker
In the meantime, Charlie Pease also worked for Fleetway Press, a company founded by former Amalgamated Press editor Harold Mansfield. For Fleetway's comic paper The Joker, Pease produced features like 'Our Wandering Boy' (1929), 'Charlie Chutney' (1930), 'Harry the Hawker' (1930), 'Maggie the Mule' (1930), 'Tiny Mite' (1931) and 'I Remember' (1932). On 22 November 1930, Pease got the front-page spot with 'Alfie the Air Tramp' (1930-1952), which was introduced by editor Arthur A. Wagg with the comment: "If you don't roar with laughter at the comical capers of Alfie the Air Tramp and his Sky Terrier in their extraordinary aeroplane, I should advise you to see a doctor!". Several other artists worked on the feature in later years, most notably John Jukes. Another long-running Joker feature by Charlie Pease was 'Dickie Duffer' (1932-1953) - tagline "He's Not So Silly As He Looks!" - about a pesky school kid causing havoc at Coshem College. In 1940, the Amalgamated bought over Fleetway Press, and merged The Joker into Illustrated Chips, where both 'Alfie the Air Tramp' and 'Dickie Duffer' continued their run.

Comics in the 1920s and 1930s
Besides Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips, Charlie Pease was present in almost every pre-war AP comic paper. For Butterfly, Pease drew the short-lived series 'Molly and Polly' (1926), 'Bob Upp and Ben Down' (1927), 'Fish and Chips' (1929), 'Cowboy Kid' (1929) and 'When Perky' (1937). The toddler magazine Tiny Tots ran Pease's barnyard adventures of 'Quackie the Duck' (1927-1956) and his friend Egbert the chicken. Since the magazine was for young readers, the character names were spelled hyphenated, Quack-ie and Eg-bert. While Pease started the series, later installments were drawn by Fred Robinson and other artists. When the AP comic anthology My Favourite was launched in 1928, Charlie Pease was present with 'Dreamy Dick' (1928). Between 1934 and 1939, the magazine was continued as Sparkler, to which Pease contributed features like 'Freddie Flicker', 'Betty and Baby Bill' and 'P.C. Sparrow'. Another comic paper, The Monster Comic, featured the Charlie Pease strip 'All the Fun of the Fourth' (1929), and to the anthology The Jolly Comic, Pease contributed 'When I Grow Up' (1936), 'Happy Mike' (1936), 'Ali Ben Onion' (1936) and 'Reggie Rich and Tiny Tich' (1937).

'Dickie Duffer' (December 1942).

World War II and post-war work
During World War II, in 1942, Charlie Pease was drafted, but discharged because of his rheumatism and arthritis. Instead of the army, he joined the Home Guard (AKA "Dad's Army"), a citizen militia that stayed at home to train and prepare for a possible enemy invasion. After the war, Pease remained active for the Amalgamated Press, but since the company suffered from post-war paper shortages, he supplemented his income by working for smaller publishing companies as well. Pease appeared in the Martin & Reid magazines Merry Moments (with 'Wishful Winnie', 1948) and Jolly Adventures (with 'Charlie the Super Sheriff', 1949). Merry Maker - a magazine published by John Matthews - featured his comic strip 'Ned Nightlite' and Philmar's Look and Laugh magazine had Pease illustrations and the 'Down But Not Out' (1949) feature.

Celebrity comics and other new AP work
At the Amalgamated Press, Charlie Pease resumed his activities for Illustrated Chips and Comic Cuts, creating new features and continuinig older ones until, in 1953, both magazines folded. Near the end of the war, Pease appeared in the comic magazine Jingles with 'Dreamy Dennis' (1944) and 'Charlie Chucklechops' (1945). By the 1950s, the weekly Tip Top, most notably with the full-color cover comic 'Artie the Autograph Hunter' (1950-1954), about a little boy that collects celebrity autographs accompanied by his faithful pup, Inky. Pease's other features for Tip Top were 'Our Jean' (1952) and 'Billy Minds the Baby' (1954). In 1954, both Jingles and Tip Top were merged into TV Fun, the AP's sister magazine to Film Fun and Radio Fun.

During the 1950s, Charlie Pease was a staple in all three of these celebrity comic magazines. In Radio Fun, he made comic features based on popular radio hosts, comedians and ventriloquists, including 'Max Bacon' (1948), 'Peter Brough & Archie Andrews' (1949), 'Douglas "Cardew" Robinson the Cad of St. Fanny's' (1949), 'Round the World with Stan Stennett' (1954-1956), 'Hylda Baker & Cynthia' (1956-1957) and 'Mikki the Martian' (1959). Radio Fun also ran his comic strips 'Right Up Your Street' (1948) and 'Tilly the Terror' (1957-1959). To the parent magazine Film Fun - the AP's oldest celebrity comic paper - Charlie Pease contributed comic strips about the comedians Ronald Shiner (1954-1959) and Tommy Cooper (1955-1959), while Radio Fun printed his feature 'Inventor's Circle' (1953-1954), that returned in 1958 as 'Inventors Club'.

'Ronald Shiner' feature in Film Fun #1805 (21 August 1954).

Billy Bunter
Internationally, Albert T. Pease is probably best-known for his work on 'Billy Bunter', a humor comic about an obese and constantly hungry schoolboy. Originally created in 1908 for a series of illustrated text stories by Charles Hamilton, the character appeared in comic strips from 1939 on, and became successful in other media too. When in 1958 the comic strip's regular artist Frank Minnitt died, Charlie Pease and Reg Parlett were among the new artists to continue the highly popular feature in the AP's Knockout magazine. In December 1958, Pease suffered a heart attack, and Eric Roberts filled in for him on his 'Billy Bunter' duties. Near the end of its run, Knockout continued under the title "Billy Bunter's Knockout", but in February 1963, the magazine folded, and the 'Billy Bunter' feature - still made by either Pease or Parlett - transferred to Valiant magazine. Pease continued to draw new 'Billy Bunter' episodes until his death in early 1964. Many of the 'Billy Bunter' episodes made by Pease appeared in magazines (Sjors, Eppo) and books in the Netherlands, where the character is known as 'Billie Turf'.

The Terrors of Tornado Street
Pease's last new series was 'The Terrors of Tornado Street' (1961-1964), which he took over in Buster from the Spanish agency artist Gustavo Matz-Schmidt. Appearing in Buster from its first issue on 28 May 1960, Pease took over in 1961 to give the feature a more British feel. The "Terrors" are a group of children whose antics cause constant mayhem in their neighborhood. Each gag begins with the children making a lot of noise or causing public disturbance. One or more adults, usually teachers, policemen or other authority figures, tell the boys to go away, clean up their mess or do something else. Invariably, this only makes the situation worse. As a running gag, the adult who had the bad idea of interfering with the children sighed the same catchphrase in each final panel: "What's the use? It's safer to let them play!".

Final years and death
Charlie Pease was one of the mainstays of the Amalgamated Press for nearly four decades. Even when the company - after being acquired by the Mirror Group - continued as Fleetway Publications and let go a lot of its veteran cartoonists, Pease remained on board as a sought after artist. He continued to work on his features until in February 1964, he suffered a second, and this time fatal heart attack. Coincidentally, a couple of months later, Buster magazine launched a comic strip called 'Charlie Peace', drawn during a decade by Eric Bradbury, Tom Kerr, Jack Pamby, Alan Philpott, Doug Maxted and Anon. However, instead of being about the cartoonist, the comic serialized the life and times of the Victorian Age criminal Charles Peace, whose name nevertheless inspired the comic artist's nickname when he was young. Later in the 1960s, Buster also reprinted the earlier Radio Fun features by Charlie Pease 'Round the World with Stan Stennett' (1966, under the title 'Have Guitar Will Travel') and 'Tilly the Terror' (1966-1967, as 'Calamity Kate').

'Billy Bunter', from Knockout (9 September 1961).

Albert Pease on Lew Stringer's blog

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