“Ronald “Carl” Giles OBE (29 September 1916 – 27 August 1995), often referred to simply as Giles, was a cartoonist best known for his work for the British newspaper the Daily Express.
Giles’s cartoons appeared in the Daily Express newspaper and used his cartoon family to illustrate and comment on topics of the day. ‘Grandma’ seated with knitting appeared in November 1947.
His cartoon style was a single topical highly detailed panel, usually with a great deal more going on than the single joke. Certain recurring characters achieved a great deal of popularity, particularly the extended Giles family, which first appeared in a published cartoon on 5 August 1945 and featured prominently in the strip. Of these, the most remembered is the enigmatic matriarch of the family, known simply as Grandma.
Another recurring favourite was Chalkie, the tyrannical school teacher who Giles claimed was modelled on one of his childhood teachers, and Larry, the mop-haired child from next door, often seen with a camera.
Giles was born in Islington, London, the son of a tobacconist and a farmer’s daughter. He was nicknamed “Karlo”, later shortened to “Carl”, by friends who decided he looked like Boris Karloff, a lifelong nickname. He was actually registered with that name when he died in 1995. After leaving school at the age of 14 he worked as an office boy for Superads, an advertising agency that commissioned animated films from cartoonists like Brian White and Sid Griffiths’ animation company also based in Charing Cross Road, London from 1929. When Superads closed in 1931, he gained experience in other small film companies in the area before being promoted to an animator in 1935.
In 1937, Giles started work as a cartoonist for the left-wing Sunday newspaper Reynolds News, for which he drew a weekly topical cartoon and a comic strip, “Young Ernie”. His strip came to the attention of the editor of the Sunday Express and in 1943 he was interviewed for a job on the Evening Standard, but was eventually offered a job on the Daily Express and Sunday Express instead, at a higher salary of 20 guineas per week, and he quit Reynolds News. His first cartoon for his new employers appeared in the 3 October 1943 edition of the Sunday Express.
Giles later said that he never agreed with the Daily Express‘s politics, and felt guilt for abandoning the more left-wing Reynolds News for it, but it made him wealthy.
Giles finally quit working for The Daily Express in 1989; his cartoons had been allocated less and less space in the newspaper, and he said that the last straw was being stood up following a trip to London to lunch with the editor. He continued working for the Sunday Express until 1991.
Collections of Giles’s cartoons have been produced annually since 1946. Until his death in 1995, Giles selected which cartoons would be in the annual.”