6th April 1970
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman
Stone de Croze, the so-called “original Guernseyman” first appeared in print on 6 April 1970. Drawn by Alan Guppy – better known simply as Guppy – the comic strip in which he appeared ran weekly in the Guernsey Evening Press and Star.
The changing face of Guernsey
The strip had been commissioned the previous month by the paper’s featured editor, Carel Toms. It was only ever supposed to appear on a children’s page. However, as Toms wrote in the introduction to a collection of the strips in book form:
Stone de Croze… slowly but surely matures, especially when it was realised that his weekly following included readers from every strata of society, from eight to eighty.
Although Stone de Croze lived a fairly solitary existence, Guppy introduced other characters over the years. Some of these came from the neighbouring islands of Herm, Sark, Jersey and Alderney – along with the occasional mainlander.
He was even visited by invaders from Germany, in strips that obliquely referred to the occupation. As detailed in Modern Conflict and the Senses, edited by Nicholas J Saunders and Paul Cornish:
In 1980, Guppy published a cartoon showing German soldiers, complete with white beards and stooped by age, coming out of a bunker and waving a white flag. Two local policemen look on, and the caption reads, “Now we know who has been raiding the beach kiosks all these years”.
Likewise, in Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940 – 45 by Gilly Carr, Paul Sanders and Louise Willmot:
While the depiction of the Stone Age Germans, who spoke in a stereotyped German accent, was not exactly politically correct, they were used as a device to introduce the Occupation to a younger generation.
Spoken like a local
Much of the strips’ dialogue is written in a gently phonetic style, and frequently includes the inflection, “eh?”. Combined, these make Stone de Croze instantly familiar, and root him on the Guernsey.
An immediately recognisable figure, Stone de Croze always dressed in an over-long Guernsey. He carried a stone-headed axe wherever he went.
Alan Guppy, his creator, died in 1980.