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Toby

 
 
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Between the years 1969 and 1972 I attended Keele University, and while I was there I entertained myself in a number of ways, with varying degrees of success.

One of the more successful was a cartoon that appeared on the back page of the student newspaper every other week (if I remember correctly). This ran for a year and was called Toby. I wrote and “drew” it anonymously and it was published, for reasons that completely escape me, under the byline AJ Nower and Peter Perfect.

Sometime in 1971 a few people chuckle at a cartoon strip

The scenario revolved around the old story of three people sitting on a sofa while a fourth person lies inert in front of them. Over time the three discussed whether or not the person lying on the floor, who was the eponymous Toby, was stoned, asleep or dead. When it turned out that he was in fact dead the others switched to ruminating about what, if anything, they should do about it.

In later episodes we saw the situation from Toby’s point of view. He was lying on the floor trying to work out whether or not the three people on the sofa had fallen asleep, got insensibly stoned, or died. When it turned out they had died he wondered what he should do about it.

Fortunately the paper changed editors, and the strip was cancelled, before I had to supply any resolution to this.

The strip was loved by some people, hated by more, and ignored by most. I thought it had disappeared forever, and in fact had more or less forgotten about it, until a year ago when Chris Mothershaw, a friend from Keele, contacted me and offered me a jpeg of an issue of the strip he had found at the bottom of a draw.

Thank you Chris, and here it is: raised from the dead. For anyone morbidly interested in the minutiae, I should note that you can just about see Toby himself at the bottom of the first frame.