What do Ginger Meggs and Ethel Turner, the author of Seven Little Australians, have in common? According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography “before World War I, she had planned to start a children’s newspaper; in 1920 she suggested the idea to the editor of the Sydney Sun; when it fell through, she edited (1921-31) ‘Sunbeams’, the children’s page in the Sunday Sun.”
The Ginger Meggs website adds to the story.
In her book, The Diaries of Ethel Turner, Philippa Poole detailed how Turner had approached The Sun about starting a children’s paper, Rising Sun, in July 1919 but nothing had happened. In September 1921 she agreed to edit the new children’s section Sunbeams, but only on the understanding that the children’s paper would follow. The four-page Sunbeams section was first published on October 9, 1921 and on November 13, 1921 a comic section was added without Turner’s consent.
That comic strip – Us Fellers – penned by Jimmy Bancks, appeared on Sunbeams’ back page. Ethel Turner was reportedly unhappy with the content. Us Fellers became Ginger Meggs, the character which still appears regularly in newspapers across Australia. After Banck’s death, the cartoonist’s baton passed to Ron Vivian, then to Lloyd Piper, James Kemsley and more recently to Ginger’s current artist Jason Chatfield.