‘Eyeballs In The Sky !’ The Development of the verbal and visual languages of The Perishers Newspaper Comic Strip (1958-1987)


Pyman, James 2016. ‘Eyeballs In The Sky !’ The Development of the verbal and visual languages of The Perishers Newspaper Comic Strip (1958-1987). Thesis
AuthorsPyman, James
Qualification namePhD

Comics and newspaper strip cartoons are increasingly recognised for their contribution to 21st century visual practice. In America there is currently substantial critical and creative examination into newspaper strips, where recent attention has focused on contemporary cartoonists such as Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman and Dan Clowes who draw on historical material to inform and develop contemporary comics culture. This PhD study documents and examines the history of The Perishers newspaper comic strip (‘Daily Mirror’, 1958-2006). This is one of many British strips that have received little to no critical attention relative to equivalent American cultural properties. In the absence of prevailing discourse on British material it is timely to record the contribution made by The Perishers to comics culture.
The study examines the 28-year working relationship of The Perishers creators Maurice Dodd and Dennis Collins and collates images of hundreds of never-reprinted strips accessed from the British Newspaper Library digital archive. The Perishers is considered by adopting the American historical model of collecting, anthologising, synthesising and creatively responding to examine a previously critically overlooked cultural property. In order to structure my analysis I also examine other ‘Daily Mirror’ strips and provide an overview and close reading of The Perishers. The Perishers is further contextualised by consideration of its place within my own development and processes as a visual artist.
Founded in an examination of my own work, this doctoral project engages with The Perishers through pastiche and assimilation in a new body of work that transforms the act of comics production into a close reading of its sources. Central to the doctoral study is the application of art practice as a critical form of looking. An exhibition and artists publication entitled The Scruffy Herberts present key creative works that address the narrative, verbal and visual development of a newspaper strip to offer a live experience in which the viewer’s interpretation of the art work mirrors the processes by which an understanding of The Perishers was formed. Deploying practice-based research in this arena has provided a meditative space for the maker to reflect on how the source work has evolved from the past whilst having the capacity for revealing and describing new relations in the source material, be they maker or work of art.

KeywordsThe Perishers; Maurice Dodd; Dennis Collins; British Newspaper Comic Strips; 'Daily Mirror'; James Pyman; Parody; Pastiche; Drawing
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/624962
File Access Level
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jul 2020, 11:07
Publication datesNov 2016
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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