Giles - The Giles Family - Final version
The classic Giles Family characters, and their popularity
The Giles Family was fully formed by 1950, and in 1951 the Daily Express printed “The Giles Family Tree”, to explain its various members to curious readers. However, there were still some puzzling questions to be answered. For example, no one in the Giles Family seemed to have a job, except Father and possibly the middle daughter. But that did not matter because it seemed that no-one in the Giles Family ever handled money, except Grandma, who needed it to buy her drink and to place her bets.
Another puzzle was that Giles never felt it necessary to fix his family in a single physical location. They seemed to live within easy reach of London, in the suburbs of some city or other, but Giles never explained which one it was. The style and layout of their house was also constantly changing, and although readers wrote in to point out that he had altered the details of their shed, or some other obvious feature, Giles never bothered to follow a consistent plan. He simply drew whatever suburban house fitted his joke.
But Giles and his readers were quite happy with this vagueness. The Giles Family was purely responsive, reacting to the social, political, and economic news reported in other parts of the Daily Express or Sunday Express. Readers saw in it a reflection of their own lives, and this was more important than any superficial consistency. “If the Giles cartoon is vintage,” wrote one commentator in 1952, “no 8.30 rush hour seems quite so black; if his comment is dark as the weather, our grumbles are confirmed, and we feel at liberty to beef a little more loudly with an easier mind.”
The Giles Family appeared in well over two thousand cartoons in the Sunday Express and Daily Express. The most popular characters, appearing in some 1,400 cartoons each, were Grandma and Ernie, who shared the same anarchic vitality and boundless self-confidence. Next came long-suffering Father, with around 1,100 appearances, followed by Mother, with more than 950. The youngest members of the Family - George Junior and the Twins - followed with over 900 appearances, the majority of them in the same cartoons.
Next in popularity was “Stinker”, not strictly a member of the Family but an eternally mischievous hanger-on. He appeared in well over 800 cartoons, the majority in conjunction with his friend Ernie. Next came auntie Vera, an ineffectual figure who nevertheless appeared in well over 750 cartoons, accompanied by Grandma in nine out of ten of them. Bringing up the rear came the youngest daughter, with just under 600 appearances, the eldest daughter Ann, with well over 450, and the eldest son George, whose purpose in the cartoons was never quite clear, but who appeared in 400 of them.