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

Charlie Pease was one of the great names of British comics. His superb, slapstick free style, complete with his characteristic lettering, graced all the comics he drew for during his near forty year comics' career. He mostly contributed to the comics of the Amalgamated Press from 1925 until his death in 1964. Among his longest-running comics were 'Mighty Monk' (1930-1940), 'Plum and Duff' (1926-1953) and 'Dickie Duffer' (1932-1953). He was also the third artist to continue Frank Richards and C.H. Chapman's 'Billy Bunter', which he did between 1958 and 1964.

Early life
Albert Thomas Pease was born in 1905 in Hackney, London, as the son of a bicycle maker and salesman. He owed his nickname "Charlie Pease" to the notorious 19th century burglar and murderer Charles Peace. Albert's younger brother, H.E. Pease, would also become a comic artist later in life. In 1915 Pease's father died in a motorcycle accident. Ten year old Charles was forced to leave school early and help out in his late father's store. In 1923 Charlie Pease married, but this ended in divorce by 1931. He remarried with another woman in 1933.

Casey Court by Charlie Pease
'Casey Court' (1932).

Pease joined the Amalgamated Press in 1924, a company he'd work for until the end of his life. He had won a drawing competition organised by AP and when a regular artist for the company fell ill, Pease was asked to fall in for him. This launched his graphic career. His first illustrations appeared in magazines like Butterfly, Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips. Pease furthermore also wrote scripts for his colleagues. Like a true Englishman he was somewhat eccentric. To come up with ideas he made two spinning cardboard wheels marked with written down concepts. After spinning both wheels he typically looked at which point both would come to a halt, read the words suggested by sheer coincidence and then tried to combine both to write his next plotline. Pease then sketched the stories out on thin sheets of paper and send them to his editor. He would read them through, suggest some changes and send the sheets back so Pease or another artist could work the sketches out and put them in ink.

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

Illustrated Chips
For Illustrated Chips, Pease drew series like 'Ivor Klue' (1925), 'Buck an' Nero' (1926-1930), 'Film Struck Fanny' (also drawn by Bertie Brown), 'Mighty Monk' (1930-1940), 'Laurie and Trailer, the Secret-Service Lads' (1935-1953) and the hugely succesful 'Casey Court' (1930s). The latter was a a one-panel cartoon featuring a gang of poor children, who avidly try to earn heaps of money in their tenement courtyard with a series of ill-fated plans. It was originally created by Julius Stafford Baker II in 1902, and continued by a host of artists from the 1920s until 1953, including Pease, Walter Bell, M.C. Veitch, H. O'NeillLouis Briault and Allan Morley. Pease was the most notable of the lot, delivering crowded and highly detailed depictions of childhood imagination on a weekly base.

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

For the magazine Butterfly he drew the short-lived series 'Molly and Polly' (1926), 'Bob Upp and Ben Down' (1927), 'Fish and Chips' (1929) and 'Cowboy Kid' (1929). His series 'Darkie Mo and Jully Ju' (1926), 'Felix the Fat' (1926, a pun on Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan's cartoon series 'Felix the Cat'), the long-running 'Plum and Duff' (1926-1953) and 'Sammy and Shrimp' (1944) ran in Comic Cuts. In Tiny Tots one could read his 'Quackie the Duck' (1927) and 'Dreamy Dick' (1928) in My Favourite. The magazine The Joker showcased series by Pease like 'Charlie Chutney' (1930), 'Alfie the Air Tramp' (1930, which was later taken over by John Jukes), 'Harry the Hawker' and the long-running 'Dickie Duffer' (1932-1953). Finally, the publication Sparkler featured comics like 'Freddie Flicker', 'Betty and Baby Bill' and 'P.C. Sparrow' between 1934 and 1939.

'Dickie Duffer' (December 1942).

Work after World War II
When World War II broke out Pease was drafted. He was soon discharged because of his medical condition. Suffering from rheumatism and arthritis, he joined the Home Guard. These citizens could stay at home but just had to follow some military exercises now and then and be prepared for an eventual enemy invasion. After the war, Pease remained active for Amalgamated Press. Illustrated Chips ran new series by his hand like 'Sally Sunshine and her Shadow' (1951-1953) and 'Jimmy Joy the TV Boy' (1952-1953). Comic Cuts featured only one new title by him, namely 'Wizzo Ranch' (1951-1953). For Jingles he drew 'Dreamy Dennis' (1944) and 'Charlie Chucklechops' (1945). 'Artie the Autograph Hunter' (1950-1954), 'Our Jean' (1952) and 'Billy Minds the Baby' (1954) ran in Tip Top. 'Inventor's Circle' (1953) ran in Radio/Film/TV Fun, while he also drew various celebrity comics for both this magazine based on the popularity of comedians like Cardew Robinson, Ronald Shiner, Stan Stennett and Tommy Cooper. Pease also worked for smaller companies, such as the magazines Merry Moments (1948) and Jolly Adventures (1949), which were distributed by Martin & Reid, while his work in Merry Maker (1948) was published by John Matthews and his illustrations in Look and Laugh (1949) by Philmar.

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

Billy Bunter
After Frank Minnitt retired in 1958, Pease continued the highly popular 'Billy Bunter' comic strip in Knock-Out, which even went under the title Billy Bunter's Knockout for a while. By 1963 the magazine went bankrupt and Billy was transferred to Valiant. Unfortunately he suffered a heart attack in December of that year, which made him unable to work for a while. During this transition period, 'Billy Bunter' was continued by Eric Roberts. After recovering, Pease drew 'Billy Bunter' until April 1964. For the magazine Buster he scribbled his final series, 'The Terrors of Tornado Street' in 1961. In 1964 Pease suffered another heart attack and died. The same year, in July 1964, Buster featured a comic strip named 'Charlie Peace'. It was drawn by Eric Bradbury, Tom Kerr, Jack Pamby, Alan Philpott, Doug Maxted and Anon for over a decade and is often incorrectly believed to have been named after Pease. In reality the comic was about the real-life 19th century British criminal Charlie Peace, who nevertheless inspired the comic artist's nickname when he was young.

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

Albert Pease on Lew Stringer's blog

Series and books by Charlie Pease in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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