Giles: The Collection 2010 By Giles And Express Newspapers
A Literary Review

South Africaby Paul Pregnolato
Posted: 9 December 2009
In: Books > Reviews Comments View Comments

Voted Britain's Favourite Cartoonist of the 20th Century, Giles' career at the Daily Express and Sunday Express spanned almost fifty years. Giles: The Collection 2010 brings together some of his best loved cartoons in the ideal Yuletide stocking filler... and what Christmas would be complete without Grandma?

Giles: The Collection 2010While Giles passed away in August 1995, he nonetheless left an incredibly rich heritage of over 15 000 cartoons in the Daily Express archives, and Giles: The Collection 2010 has arranged 150 of them under topics as diverse as The Battle of the Sexes, Brits on Holiday, and (unsurprisingly) The Festive Season.

Despite some of the cartoons being over 60 years old - the selection encompasses work published between 1948 and 1989 - his humour is timeless and will appeal to a wide cross section of the public. Besides lampooning (in)famous politicians and personalities such as Jimmy Carter, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and The Queen, the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" must have been thought up with Giles in mind, as he had the ability to comment on such diverse issues as trade unionism, racism, football hooliganism, the arms race, and post-colonial England in a single highly effective panel.

However, the bedrock of Giles oeuvre is undoubtedly "The Giles Family". While each member of the family has his or her unique foibles, the most memorable by far are Grandma and the ever-smirking, camera-toting neighbourhood boy Larry (said to be Giles own cartoon alter ego). While Grandma gives new meaning to the term "battleaxe" she is also more often than not the butt of Giles' humour, having being (among others) chased by bulls in Spain and abducted by aliens as well as having being the subject of Larry et al's pranks. Perhaps the main reason so many cartoon aficionados - including me - enjoy Giles' work is the sheer wealth of detail in each panel; while you are initially drawn to the main joke in the forefront, you could (literally) browse through the collection at random for hours and have a good chuckle as you discover dozens of smaller jokes in the background (most invariably being captured for posterity by Larry and his ubiquitous camera).

While collectors of the Giles annuals will undoubtedly already posses the cartoons in this collection, and some of the uniquely British institutions (such as the TUC, Mothering Sunday, and Bank Holidays) referred to may seem slightly eccentric (for lack of a better word) or obscure to foreign readers, Giles: The Collection 2010 is still an invaluable primer to introduce newer fans to the works of one of the most talented cartoonists ever to have lived. It comes highly recommended.

Giles, 27 December 1956

The review copy of Giles: The Collection 2010 by Giles and Express Newspapers was provided by Penguin Books (South Africa). It is available from leading book stores and online retailers, including,, , and OpinionShare/Bookmark
Rating: 7/10

Key Facts (Review Copy)
Title: Giles: The Collection 2010
Authors: Ronald "Carl" Giles, Express Newspapers
ISBN/EAN: 9780600620464
Publisher: Hamlyn, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group (Hatchette Livre)
Edition: First
Year: 2009 (7 September 2009)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 160
Dimensions: 280x208x12mm (WxHxD)
Genre/Keywords: annual, Britain, cartoons, Giles, humour, illustrations, politics, satire

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