Letter 6 - Ginger Meggs

Ginger Meggs

Ginger Meggs is one of Australia's most beloved and enduring comic strip characters. Created by James "Jimmy" Bancks, the iconic redhead made his debut in 1921 in the Sunbeams section of the Sydney Sunday Sun newspaper.  It has since been published in 120 newspapers in 34 countries.

Ginger Meggs is a mischievous and quick-witted Australian schoolboy.  The character is best known for his distinctive mop of red hair, propensity for getting into humorous scrapes and adventures, his sharp sense of humor, and his loyalty to his friends. 

The comic strip is set in an Australian suburb and reflects the everyday life of a schoolboy in the early to mid-20th century. Ginger Meggs attends school, interacts with his parents, and explores his neighbourhood.

Ginger Meggs was syndicated in newspapers across Australia for decades, ensuring its wide readership. Even after Bancks' death in 1952, other talented cartoonists continued to produce the strip, maintaining its legacy right up until September of 2022:

  • Jimmy Bancks - 1921-1952
  • Ron Vivian - 1953-1973
  • Lloyd Piper - 1973-1983
  • James Kemsley - 1984-2007
  • John Chatfiled - 2007-2022

Ginger Meggs adaptations include stage shows, a film, animated series, songs, books and webcomics.  It has also been commemorated on stamps and coins.

May Gibbs

May Gibbs was a prominent Australian children's author, illustrator, and cartoonist, best known for her iconic creations that included the gumnut babies.

Cecilia May Gibbs was born on January 17, 1877, in Sydenham, Kent, England. Her father was an artist, cartoonist and public servant.

Her family moved to Australia when May was four years old and eventually settled in Western Australia.  It was in this setting at age 8 that she discovered the beauty of the Australian bush; exploring the land on her pony, and painting and writing about the bush.

May undertook formal art studies in London then returned to Perth in 1905 to begin a career as an illustrator for The Western Mail. In 1913 she moved to Sydney where she provided the artistry for book covers. It was there, near the bushland of the Blue Mountains, that the Gumnut Babies were created; a family of gumnuts peeping out from behind gum leaves.  May secured the copyright registration on her design, then featured her Gumnut Babies on postcards, greeting cards and calendars.  She wrote a series of stories about Gumnut Babies that are considered to be classic Australian literature. The 1918 work of Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie has never been out of print.

May Gibbs is celebrated for her significant contributions to Australian children's literature. Her works not only entertained but also educated children about the Australian environment and native flora and fauna. Upon her death in 1969, she bequeathed the copyright for her works to the Northcott Society and Cerebral Palsy Alliance, ensuring that proceeds from her creations would support children with cerebral palsy into the future.

Her works continue to enchant readers and educate young minds about the wonders of the Australian bush.