Dedicated Australian comics collector Peter Curnow has helped to expand the scope of the Bunker Gallery's Ginger Meggs exhibition.
Dedicated Australian comics collector Peter Curnow has helped to expand the scope of the Bunker Gallery's Ginger Meggs exhibition. Marie Curnow

Comic collector's love of Aussie red-headed rogue

PETER Curnow says he has always identified with Ginger Meggs and the feisty little rascal stayed with him throughout his years as a school principal.

Now retired from teaching, the 76-year-old Ballina-based collector of Australian comics has lent some of his Ginger Meggs memorabilia to Coffs Harbour's Bunker Cartoon Gallery for its new exhibition, which celebrates the 95th anniversary of the long-running strip starring the lovable red-headed rogue.

The gallery has its own collection of original Ginger Meggs drawings, illustrations and comic strips bequeathed to the gallery by the late Ginger Meggs cartoonist James Kemsley, as well as other material lent by collectors, donated or acquired through the Rotary Cartoon Awards. The exhibition includes an unusual Ginger Meggs snow dome lent by Boambee resident John Costelloe.

Peter Curnow, who specialises in collecting pre-1966 Aussie comics, spoke about his own experiences with Ginger Meggs at the exhibition opening.

"Like so many people, I was Ginger Meggs," Peter said.

" I did the things Ginger Meggs did.

"I lived in a little village in Northern NSW - I lived my childhood at Emmaville.

" Mum and Dad had the baker's shop.

" Later I spent my career as a school principal and I used to see him (Ginger Meggs) every day.

" I saw him in so many kids and sometimes it helped to see them that way, rather than another way."

 

The Ginger Meggs Christmas annual from 1955 would have been a popular gift for children.
The Ginger Meggs Christmas annual from 1955 would have been a popular gift for children.

The one character in the current comic strip he dislikes is Ginger's principal, Mr Canehard.

" I never caned a single kid and I never would," Peter said.

He is delighted with the exhibition, which will remain on show at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery until January 29.

He said 20 or even 30 years ago collectors had expected the popularity of the uniquely Australian comic strip to decline, but it had retained its popularity.

He attributes this partly to the marketing skills of the strip's current cartoonist, Jason Chatfield, the fifth artist to draw Ginger Meggs and the gang since Jim Bancks brought them to life.

Today, in addition to appearing in newspapers, there is a large Ginger Meggs website, which includes a daily comic strip to provide a regular dose of light hearted devilry, scrapes and escapes.

The exhibition is on at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery at Coffs Harbour's City Hill daily until January 29, 10am-4pm (not open Christmas Day).


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