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Monday, November 19, 2007

Num Num and His Funny Family

Because you demanded it...

Seriously, people have been asking me about this strip for past year. It all started back in January when Denise Fisher wrote: "My friend and I both remember a cartoon character called drag-a-chair cat from the mid- to late-Sixties. He was probably a character in a strip that was named after someone else. Can you enlighten us both please?"

Well, I spent a couple of days scratching my head wondering what on earth a drag-a-chair cat was. Then I had a brainstorm. When Look and Learn purchased a group of nursery titles from IPC, one of the strips we bought was called "Num Num and His Funny Family". I dug out a volume of Playhour and, lo and behold, there was Drag-a-Chair Puss-Cat.

Mystery solved... and when I asked Denise whether she would mind me using her query for a column she replied: "I don't mind you using my name and I don't even mind people knowing that I've remembered Drag-a-Chair all my life because I've always been just a little bit too short to reach the things I needed to. When I was a chemical lab. technician I had to drag a wooden box around with me so that I could reach the fume cupboards. Now I am a library assistant, and they gave us all new chairs last year, but I couldn't jack mine up high enough to reach the keyboards, so I kept an old one. This is labelled "Denise's chair" and it gets dragged around to whatever computer I am working at."

A month or two later I received another query: "I'm desperately trying to trace a cartoon strip that used to be around in the early '60s called, I think, The Puss Cats. It was a family of cats (seven, I think) and they all had something with them. The one I remember is drag a chair puss cat."

And there have been others. So I mentioned Num Num in the piece I wrote last July about Gordon Hutchings and from the comments you'll see that Drag-a-Chair Puss-Cat is the one that everybody remembers. (And those are just the comments I've had to Bear Alley, not the ones I've had directly.)

So, especially for fans of Num Num, here's another episode of the strip.

Num Num first appeared in TV Toyland in May 1966 before appearing in Playhour in January 1967, first featuring in a text story to introduce people to the strip that was launched in February when TV Toyland was merged with Playhour. Gordon Hutchings was the strip's original artist and, later, the family adventures were drawn by his younger brother, Tony Hutchings and coloured by Colin Wyatt.

Num Num and his family deserve their own TV show! Seriously, there seem to be an awful lot of people of a certain age who remember them... of an age when they'd have kids of a certain age. A TV producer's dream -- a show that parents would be actively encouraging their kids to watch!

(* Num Num and His Funny Family © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd. The two strips above are from Playhour, 9 September 1967 and 30 September 1967 respectively.)

20 comments:

John said...

But who was "Untidy Idy"?

Captain Storm said...

Wasn't this strip in Toby as well,Steve?

Steve said...

I've no idea if Num Num was reprinted in Toby as I've only ever seen a couple of early issues. Maybe someone with copies can let us know.

Regards,

Steve.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this brings back memories! I was a toddler in the early 70's. Now I've seen this, I remember Sonny and Sally, Paddy Paws, Tommy Trouble, Toad of Toad Hall, Sally and Jake, Meet the Beans, Ginger the Gingerbread Man, and Nurse Susan and Doctor David. (I might be confusing Playhour and Teddy Bear comic.)

Anonymous said...

My dad used to refuse to read this cartoon to me, and dismissed it as "Numb Bum and his dysfunctional family!"

Vidya said...

Hi Steve, thanks for this - and as I emailed to you, I recall Playhour as being brought for me in India by my cousin who worked with BOAC / British Airways. I seem to recollect that it was given out on board, but it may be that she merely picked up copies for me during layovers and it had nothing to do with the airline.

I remember one Num Num episode where he makes a rainbow with the garden hose - that's how I learnt about rainbows.

In passing, did Playhour have anything at all to do with Rolf Harris? There's a vague, nagging connection in my head - involving Dougal - but it could just be childhood memories getting jumbled up.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so pleased to have found this my work collegues all swore i was mad when i started talking about drag a chair and num num.

Martin Heaphy said...

Thanks for finding this Steve. When my now wife and I met one of the things that she was struck about with me was that I remebered the cartoon character Oggie Doggie and his doggie daddy (this was before the cartoon boom which brought back many formerly obscure characters such as the above). I asked if she remembered Drag a chair along puss and she asked if I did lots of drugs as a child. She has since confessed that she has sometimes worried that I may one day meet a woman who remembers Drag a chair along puss and run away with her.

Steve said...

Could this be the first marriage saved by Bear Alley? After all, you do now know a woman who knows about Num Num (if you've showed the post to your wife, that is).

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1968 and I grew up reading Playhour and Jack & Jill - this has brought back memories and, as I am a "cats-come-first-people-come-second" person, as were my parents, num-num was the story that was always my favourite and which I have always remembered.
Thanks for these.

Anonymous said...

When I met my husband 27 years ago I mentioned a favoutite character of mine called Drag a Chair and he too asked if i'd been taking drugs! I have been teased by my family and even my children for this but today he found the little cat and I have been proved right - it was worth the wait!!
Stacy Portsmouth

Anonymous said...

After 27 years of my wife telling me about Drag a Chair i took some of her drugs and i too found Drag a Chair
Stacys Husband Portsmouth

cornick said...

Ha! So that's what Drag-a-chair puss cat's strip was called!
Does anyone remember one of the extended family who's obsession waas to hang a picture straight? I always think of him when i notice a picture that's wonky, and he's become a sort of personal cypher for all OCD behaviour - mine or anybody else's!

karensian said...

OMG - fabulous - i keep getting these flashbacks of a character called 'drag-a-chair-pusscat' and i knew it was something to do with play hour comic/annual - thank you! LOL

karensian said...

and anyone remember (on that note) mooney from the moon?

Johnny Staccato said...

Rings a bell, Mooney, short chap, big ears, nose and feet and black skin with with polka dots?

Anonymous said...

OMG! Thank you so much for this article. I remembered a character called Pussy Drag a Chair but nothing else, other than that I loved it. You have brought back many very happy memories. I live in Australia now....I wonder if any of the comics ever came over here, I'd love to find one. Thanks again.
Susan

susan said...

Thank you. I do remember Playhour and Robin from 1970 and Drag-a-chair was the little cat that stuck in my memory. Great to see him again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this - brings back lots of memories!

Linda Stone said...

there was a tv show of these cats in the uk. was one of my favs lol