Giles, creator of Grandma, voted best cartoonist of 20th century

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The Independent Online

Giles, a cartoonist for Middle England with his gentle satires on post-war life, has been voted the nation's favourite.

The cartoonist, who died aged 78 in 1995, began his career with the Daily Express in 1943, sending cartoons back from the front during the Second World War. In peacetime, he focused on the era of utility, rationing and the more colourful dramas of subsequent decades. His cast, christened "the Crisis Family", consisted of harassed father, irate mother, various currant-eyed, dumpling children and the snivelling Vera.

Brooding over this household was the best-known and loved of Giles's creations Grandma, a menacing figure, who he once said was based on his own grandmother - bird in hat, umbrella in hand and "reeking of bombazine". His backgrounds were an acutely observed record of a vanishing England: soggy garden fêtes, pre-Beeching train stations and slushy shopping centres.

Yesterday, the self-taught artist came top in a poll of more than a thousand visitors to an exhibition featuring the top 100 British cartoonists of the 20th century. Giles was denied a double posthumous victory when he was pipped by Ronald Searle in a separate award voted on by cartoonists themselves. In this category, he came second, followed by David Low in third place.

Visitors to the British Cartoon Centre at the Brunswick Centre, central London, have had since mid-February to vote for Cartoonist of the Century. Announcing the winners, Paul Gravett, projects director of the British Cartoon Trust, which co-ordinated the vote, said: "Giles is an extremely popular winner across the generations. His books are still selling well after more than 50 years and his humour is not stuck in any particular time frame. He appeals to a very wide cross-section of the public."

He added that Searle had been "an outstanding inspiration to his peers".

Runners-up to Giles in the visitors' poll were Low, who came second, and Gerald Scarfe, in third place.

The Cartoonist of the Year exhibition closes in London tomorrow. It will embark on a national tour next Thursday, starting at the Cartoon Study Centre, University of Kent.