UK Comics Wiki

"Winifred and Stephanie", Once Upon a Time, 1969-72

Montague Philip Mendoza was born in Dalston, London, on 14 October 1898, to a family of Spanish Jewish stock who had lived in England for six generations. His father, Alfred Moses Mendoza, was a painter and sculptor. The family moved north to Tynemouth, Northumberland, where Philip's brother Laurence was born in 1900, to Ashton-Under-Lyme, Lancashire, where they are listed in the 1901 census, and to France, where his sister Florence was born c. 1905; Mendoza is also said to have spent some of his early life in South America. By 1911 the family was living in Bournemouth.

Mendoza is said to have started his artistic career as a pavement artist at the age of 14. He served in the Army Service Corps from 1914 to 1920, before joining a theatrical poster printing company, designing posters for advertising campaigns and freelancing as a cartoonist and illustrator for various newspapers, magazines and books. He drew the comic strip The Man You'd Like To Kick for the Sunday Express, using the pseudonym "Flam".

From 1925 until 1929 under the name Flambo he contributed full page front cover editorial cartoons to Labour Leader, the weekly paper of the Independent Labour Party, and illustrated the humour articles by Bernard J. Boothroyd (aka Yaffle). He illustrated several of Boothroyd's books and other labour movement publications including a comic telling the history of the building workers trade union, some as Flambo and some as Mendoza.

He lived at various addresses in London through the 1920s and '30s, and one of his paintings was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1939. During the Second World War he designed posters for the Ministry of Labour, drew a 56 page comic, The Early Life of Winston Churchill, in 1942, and created the cartoon character Percy Vere for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

After the war he illustrated paperback covers, and drew all five strips in a one-off comic, The Mighty Atom, published by Denlee Publishing in 1946. In 1951 he went into comics in earnest, drawing adventure stories for the Amalgamated Press' Thriller Comics (Robin Hood, the Three Musketeers, and adaptation of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves), Cowboy Comics (Kit Carson), Super Detective Library (an adaptation of The Island of Fu Manchu), The Sun ("The Golden Whistle", "The School Against Him", "Jak of the Jaguars", "The Martian"), The Comet ("Strongbow the Mohawk", "The King of the Khyber Rifles"), and Top Spot ("Old Mendoza's Horror-Scope"). He also drew the early issues of Captain Vigour, an American-style title published by Sports Cartoons that was later drawn by Jim Holdaway, and the newspaper strip Paul Temple.

From 1954 he increasingly moved into the AP's nursery titles, specialising in painting realistic but anthropomorphised animals strips for titles like Playhour Pictures ("Princess Petal", "Gulliver Guinea-Pig", "The Seven Dwarfs", "Children of the Forest"), Tiny Tots ("The Nursery Rhymes of Katie Country Mouse", "The Town Mouse"), Harold Hare's Own Paper, Jack and Jill and Tiny Tots.

From 1963 he worked for Treasure, an educational magazine with a younger readership than Look and Learn, drawing the weekly adventures of safety campaigner Tufty and adaptations of classic childrens' books like The Borrowers, The Wind in the Willows, The Water Babies, Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. He also drew "Rolf Harris and Coojibear" and "All at Sea" for TV Toyland in the late 1960s. Between in 1969 and 1972 he illustrated the prose adventures of "Winifred and Stephanie", a pair of mice, written by Barbara Matthews, for Once Upon a Time.

From the later 1960s he developed a serious drink problem, which affected his reliability, but not the quality of his work, although panel borders and other finishing touches often had to be added by in-house staff. He died in Paddington in the second quarter of 1973.