Local children’s author, Tristan Bancks, has marked the 100th birthday of iconic comic-strip character Ginger Meggs with the release of a book of brand new Ginger Meggs short stories.
A Northern Rivers local for the past 22 years, Bancks is also the great-great nephew of Ginger Meggs’ creator, Jimmy Bancks.
‘I’ve always loved Meggs and been so proud of that family connection. I’ve been reading the comic strip since I was seven years old,’ he said.
‘Seeing the original Ginger Meggs image on my grandmother’s wall as a kid, and discovering I was related to the person who drew him, was such a pivotal moment and one of the things that inspired me to become a writer.’
Bancks’ full-colour, hardback book, illustrated by current Meggs cartoonist Jason Chatfield, includes a story, ‘Dead Man’s Hill’, influenced by the Bangalow Billycart Derby.
‘Another piece in the book has Ginger engaged in a lamington-selling war with his best mate Benny,’ Bancks said.
‘That story’s loosely based on my son’s local door-to-door cupcake-selling empire, while another one alludes to a few disastrous family camping trips we’ve had around Byron.’
The book embodies all the mayhem and memories that many people have of Meggs, but it’s set in the present day.
‘Ginger’s a contemporary kid with contemporary kid problems. But the qualities that I think have seen him through 100 years are his boundless energy, beginner’s mind, resilience and tenacity. These are qualities that I think most Australians, most humans, would like to have.’
The book features a fascinating, full-colour timeline, detailing the evolution of the character from a skinny redhead, originally named Ginger Smith, back in 1921, to the much-loved, internationally-renowned comic-strip character of today, who is sill published online and in more than 100 newspapers around the world.