Muffin was operated by Ann Hogarth and fronted by
Illustrations from THE ANNETTE MILLS GIFT BOOK ,
The Heirloom Library, London undated c1955.
Muffin was a puppet who'd made it big as a TV character. Annette played
the piano while the badly jointed wooden figure jerked spasmodically on
the piano lid. Something of the ineptitude of the performance can be glimpsed
in the way Muffin had to be drawn in the Muffin Annuals.
The illustrator ( usually the great professional, Molly Blake), had to
draw the restrictions of the puppet rather than make the character come
alive. That was what viewers wanted to see - the recreation of the TV
image - the odd articulations of the rattling limbs, the bamboo like joints.
Even as a child, used to the papery thin qualities of children's TV -
patronising, sentimental with a strong class bias - I thought Muffin was
distinctly awful. Here Muffin had shrunk to a tiny size and meets a fairy
called Seedy who scours the landscape for.... seeds.
UPPER RIGHT - Every living thing in Muffin smiles (perhaps
out of embarassment). Look, even the worm has developed a smiling appendage.
No fault of Molly who had a really strong sense of composition and a sophisticated
control of atmospherics. Her depiction of Nature was particularly adept
and always beautifully drawn. Note the painterly control of butterfly
wing and dragonfly wing.
In 1996 the Conservative Government decided that it would not allow the
British Post Office to issue a commemorative stamp on the occasion of
the centenary of the death of that great Socialist writer and designer
William Morris. Instead, it was decided to honour Muffin the Mule. This
will for ever remain in my mind as pure essence of the vindictive. Molly
Blake cannot be held responsible. See how well she did - given the rattling
characterisation of the Shaking Mule.
This screen is dedicated to Molly Blake