Obscurity of the Day: The Perishers

After the huge success of British import Andy Capp here in the colonies, American newspaper syndicates started looking at other British strips that might have success over here. The Perishers, which had been running in the Daily Mirror since 1959, was deemed by the Publishers-Hall Syndicate to be worth a try over here. The strip b y writer Maurice Dodd and cartoonist Dennis Collins was rolled out in a small number of U.S. newspapers starting on February 9 1970, and the fallacy of the idea was immediately apparent to readers.The Perishers is a fine strip, but it is so steeped in British culture and language that the strips are often all but incomprehensible to an American audience. Publishers-Hall didn’t choose to Americanize the strip in any way, so many strips would have needed extensive footnoting for the typical American to follow it.

A strip like Andy Capp is so visceral that the occasional bit of dialect or a foreign reference does little to impact the function of the strip. A strip about a drunken lout who beat his wife may be a sick premise for a strip, but it is also undeniably simple and understandable. Not so with The Perishers, which has quite a few characters, complex relationships and personalities, and thoughtful gags.All of which is great if you can understand what the heck they’re talking about.

Naturally, the strip failed miserably in its U.S. distribution. As best I can tell, it seems to have been removed from syndication on October 3 1970, just eight months after its debut. It’s a shame, because the strip had a lot going for it.

According to Editor & Publisher yearbooks, the strip may have had a second go-round in U.S syndication. North America Syndicate advertised the availability of the strip from 1992-98. However, I have yet to find a U.S. paper that ran the strip in that run.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *