Dog watches dog 24.07.03

Will Garth return to save the day?

Okay, so what’s happened to the cartoon character Garth? You remember the guy, a super hero with so many rippling muscles that he conjured up visions of a condom stuffed with walnuts.

It’s his birthday this week. He is 60 and those in the know say he is still looking great. Not a strand of blonde hair out of place, wearing better than Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Garth went missing from the pages of the Daily Mirror five years ago, and hundreds of readers wrote in anxious letters. They will be relieved to know their hero is not trapped in a parallel universe or caught up in diabolical time zones.

Dog can reveal the simple truth: Garth has taken a sabbatical from fighting injustices and righting wrongs, although he is probably still chatting up all those curvy and gorgeous life-forms in far-flung galaxies.

Garth drifted into the lives of the great British public on 24 July, 1943, when the world was at war. He was an immediate hit and cheered up the nation. And the quality of the artwork and the imaginative storylines meant he would outlive other strips such as the sexy Jane.

As fans know, the strip’s hero can travel virtually anywhere in time and space and is not tied to a set or a group of characters. There he is dodging dinosaurs, taking on a drugs cartel in Rio, trying to rescue Mary Queen of Scots or, simply the best, locked in a computer battle with Tina Turner.

Now the really good news for the fans. Ken Layson, head of cartoon strips at Trinity Mirror, says: “Garth wasn’t killed off when he went missing. He can come back at any time.”

Happy birthday, Garth. Here’s looking at you, kid.

Handcore hacks force Smith to splash his cash

Los Angeles-based picture agency Splash has launched a London bureau and already been warmly welcomed into the bosom of Fleet Street.

More than 400 hacks, picture editors and assorted hangers-on made their way to the agency’s launch party at Sugar Reef in the West End. Perhaps a few were enticed by the promise of a free bar.

The tab was due to close at 10pm but, somewhat rashly, Splash owner Kevin Smith decided to keep the drinks flowing for an extra hour.

He said: “The bill wasn’t that bad at that point and there weren’t that many people left, but they must have been the real hardcore because the bill went up by half as much again.”

Smith refused to tell Dog the grand total – only revealing that the final bill measured 12 feet three inches.

Corporation bitten by seething Post

Following on from the war between Downing Street and the BBC, another skirmish has broken out, this time between the corporation and the Bristol Evening Post.

The Evening Post has been seething over the way the BBC covers events set up by the newspaper, but never gives it a mention in its reports.

For example, the Post set up an invention project for schools which culminated in a presentation by the Duke of York to the winning kids who made “flying shoes”. A full report by BBC Bristol, but no mention of the Evening Post.

Example two. The Evening Post inspired the “great reading adventure” in which all of Bristol was urged to read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Again, a full report by BBC Bristol, but not a word about the Evening Post’s role.

No wonder that when BBC public relations officer Kerrie Lofthouse approached the Evening Post asking it to send a reporter and photographer to cover a BBC workshop for Bristol schoolchildren, she was made as welcome as Andrew Gilligan at a No 10 reception.

“I propose to give you exactly the same amount of coverage as BBC Bristol gives the Bristol Evening Post for its community work and initiatives,” snarled back the newspaper’s deputy editor, Stan Szecowka.

Deadline forces scribes into action

The team of journalists, having already seen off the House of Commons team in the first round, came from a long way behind to beat a group of fine art auctioneers for a place in the semi-finals of University Challenge: The Professionals this week.

As the gong sounded, BBC question master Jeremy Paxman told the journos: “You left that very late.” Replied one of the scribes: “We suddenly realised there was a deadline.”

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