Wednesday, August 29, 2007

G. M. Payne

The Children's Newspaper continues to turn up surprises. During the run that has appeared this week on the Look and Learn website, I found a cartoon by G. M. Payne, a name I recognised from some of Britain's earliest comics of some 100 years ago.

Surprisingly little seems to be known about him -- not even his full name -- so I'm pleased to say that we can correct that situation, albeit only a little. Gilbert Morris Payne was born in Cardiff in 1879, the son of Joseph Payne, a cabinet maker, and his wife Elizabeth Alice (nee Bowen), who had married in 1870. Gilbert was the fifth child (of six) and was the younger brother of Austin Bowen Payne who, like his brother, went on to become an artist, best known for drawing 'Pip, Squeak & Wilfred' for the Daily Mirror.

Gilbert -- who always signed with the abbreviated 'G. M. Payne' but was also known as 'Bertie' to his family -- grew up in Cardiff, Llandilo Talybont and Aberdere, where his uncle, furniture dealer Jacob Payne, lived. He was in his teens when the family moved to Islington, London, where Joseph worked as a pattern maker.

Gilbert found work with James Henderson's Lot-o'-Fun where he was drawing 'Midshipman Breezy' in 1906, although for many years he worked for the Amalgamated Press, drawing for Comic Cuts, Jester & Wonder (where he created 'Constable Cuddlecook'), Merry & Bright (drawing the front page 'Curly Kelly'), Butterfly, Puck, Favourite Comic, Penny Wonder, Firefly, and Kinema Comic.

Throughout his career, Payne also produced humorous colour paintings for postcards, published by Gale & Polden, a selection of which (nabbed from eBay) appear below.

Payne was married in Islington in 1909 but I've yet to establish his date of death. The top cartoon dates from 1919 and his work in Kinema Comic was in around 1920, at which time he was still only around 40 years of age. He was also an illustrator for Chums, his work appearing regularly in 1922-24.


  1. Wonderful... I ran across his prehistoric postcard series on eBay and was amazed at the outlandish (for the time) imaginary creatures portrayed in some of them. Rather predates the humor of The Flintstones by some decades. Thanks for sharing some biographical information. He was excellent!

  2. G.M.Payne was my great uncle Bertie , one of a family of artists , all of whom ( Austin included ) considered him to be the most gifted . As well as the comical stuff he produced more serious work of a topical nature for The Army Graphic , Autocar , The Motor, and many other publications .
    David Payne



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