Carl Giles was born in London on September 29 1916. Giles was a self-taught animated artist, working as an office boy in a film company before he became an animator for advertising films, employed by various commercial studios in London between 1930 and 1935. Giles then worked as an animator for Alexander Korda, then joined Reynold News, where he was their cartoonist for almost seven years, designing a weekly topical cartoon and a comic strip ‘Young Ernie’. He was appointed to the Daily Express (and the Sunday Express) in 1942, and was sent as a war correspondent to France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Personally commissioned to do work for the MOI by Embleton, Edwin, Giles also produced and documented films for the Ministry of Information, with his cartoons at home ‘ideally suited to the expression of Blitz humour’. In wartime, Giles first produced the famous ‘Giles Family’ drawings, and his cartoons for the Daily Express and Sunday Express were published in an annual volume from 1945.
Giles’ work was extensively reproduced in the United States and syndicated throughout the British Commonwealth. His work was published by Beaverbrook, who described him as ‘a man of genius… who takes the solemnity out of the grand occasion and helps the world to keep sane by laughing at its soaring moments. Giles has a sardonic humour which appeals because he always keeps close to the life of the street and the farm. He depicts the attitudes of ordinary people… and makes caustic comment about high-flown presentation.’ Giles’ cartoons won praise from his fellow cartoonists, including Ronald Searle who acknowledged that ‘in his superb understanding of human behaviour no one can touch him’. His work was included in Drawn and Quartered, the National Portrait Gallery exhibition of cartoonists, in May 1970. An enthusiastic engineer, motor racer, builder and farmer, Giles was awarded an OBE in 1959 for his contribution to the cartoon world.
Information taken from: Spartacus Schoolnet, Carl Giles, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jgiles.htm, accessed September 22 2003; Amstutz, W. Who’s Who in Graphic Art 1962, p.236; Darracott, J. and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1981 (1972), p.34; Questionnaire submitted by Royall, K. to Embleton, E., Royall, K., ‘Posters of the Second World War: The Fourth Arm of British Defence’, Unpublished M.A., University of Westminster, 1991, p.123
- Tory, Peter The Ultimate Giles, 1995
- Tory, Peter Giles at War, 1994
- Tory, Peter Giles: A Life in Cartoons, 1993
- Tory, Peter, The Giles Family, 1993
- Carl Giles tribute pages
- Original items (Look under Cartoon books for Giles books/posters)
- Carl Giles, Cartoonist (Spartacus Schoolnet)
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Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.