Although we’re still working from home, we can keep in touch with the wider “People’s Friend” Team via our laptops.
Our archivist, Barry Sullivan, has been telling me recently all about two much-loved “Friend” characters, with enduring appeal.
Will and Wag!
How It All Began
“The People’s Friend” was originally intended as reading for the whole family, and for over a century, the Children’s Corner was a regular feature of the magazine.
A lively new page especially for children appeared in 1908, featuring stories, poems, things to make and do; general knowledge, jokes and puzzles, and competitions.
“Until 27 November 1926, there had been a succession of comic characters in the Friend”, Barry explains.
“The last of these alliterative wannabees were Freddie and Fluffy, who were effectively retired that week as Will & Wag’s adventures were trailed (below).
‘Will is a duck and Wag is a dog, and they are the most comical pair you have ever heard of,’ ran the trailer.
Willy Waddle And Wag
“The actual title of the strip was pretty fluid,” Barry explains.
“More often than not it contained the names of the main characters, but would often refer to whichever of their friends was most prominent in that particular strip, or allude to the nature of their adventures.
“The first instance of it being called “Will and Wag” that we’ve been able to find was in August 1936 (below) – nearly ten years after its launch.
“However, this didn’t stick and the title remained in flux for many years thereafter. In fact, in some issues, the strip was nameless.
Through The Years
“The strip must’ve been popular as, only a year after they appeared, the first Willie Waddle Book came out,” says Barry. (Main image, above.)
“I’ve no idea why the duck was viewed as the breakout star over the dog!”
‘What A Jolly Annual” said this advertisement (below), which featured in local newspaper, “The Evening Telegraph”, on December 13, 1927.
Over the years, Will and Wag collected scrap metal for the war effort, attended aerobics lessons and signed up for computer classes – as well as enjoying a tea party or two (below).