George Ernest Studdy (1878-1948) Studdy evolved his most famous character within the pages of The Sketch. ‘Bonzo’, the mischievous white puppy, first appeared with that name on 8 November 1922, and became so popular that he was reproduced in many forms beyond books and postcards, from clocks to mascots. G E Studdy was born at Stoke Damerel, Devon, on 23 June 1878, the son of a lieutenant in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. He was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and Dulwich College, London (which he left in 1896). A childhood accident prevented him from following a military career, but he worked as an apprentice engineer for Thames Iron Works and then as a stockbroker before becoming a cartoonist. Encouraged by an aunt to develop his interest in art, he took evening classes at Heatherley’s and spent a valuable term at Calderon’s School of Animal Painting. From the turn of the century he contributed regularly to such periodicals as Comic Cuts and produced drawings for advertisements.
He joined the London Sketch Club in 1905 – was elected as its President in 1921 – and was later a member of the Savage Club. He also acted as a tutor for Percy Bradshaw’s Press Art School. By the First World War he was working regularly for The Sketch, The Tatler, The Bystander, The Graphic and The Illustrated London News. He also produced animation shorts for Gaumont, the films appearing monthly under the title ‘Studdy’s War Studies’ (1915-16). Early in his career, Studdy made several drawings of comic dogs for advertisements and periodical contributions. However, he evolved his most famous canine character within the pages of The Sketch. ‘Bonzo’, the mischievous white puppy, first appeared with that name on 8 November 1922 and became so popular that he was reproduced in many forms beyond books and postcards, from clocks to mascots. He was also used to advertise a variety of products from the Eclipse safety razor to Woolwena pure down quilts. His ‘stage debut’ occurred in Battling Butler at the Adelphi Theatre (1923), when George Atterbury, dressed in a velvet dog costume, played opposite Jack Buchanan. A year later, he featured in ‘A Sausage Snatching Sensation’, the first of 26 animated films collectively known as Bonzoland. The craze for Bonzo peaked in the late 1920s, at the very time that he appeared in advertisements for Ackroyd Brothers Limited. It rapidly declined after Studdy’s death from lung cancer on 25 July 1948.