Chesty Bond is a fictional cartoon character and trademark for the Australian clothing company Bonds. The character was created in 1940, a co-creation of the advertising account manager Ted Moloney and artist Syd Miller. Chesty Bond was conceived as a likeable and heroic character in a continuous newspaper comic-strip, intended as a marketing campaign to sell the Bonds Athletic singlet. The comic-strip format, with a constantly changing storyline, proved to be extremely popular and continued to be published until 1963. Chesty Bond was possibly the world’s first daily advertising comic-strip. By virtue of its popularity and longevity, Chesty Bond became absorbed into Australian popular culture as a national icon.

The Chesty Bond logo

OriginsEdit

The nexus between cartooning and the advertising of Bonds Athletic vests began in October 1936 with a series of crudely-drawn cartoons used in advertisements for the singlet in Australian Women's Weekly.[1]

The first Bonds advertising comic-strip, called Embarrassing Moments from History, commenced in March 1937. The advertising strip appeared in various eastern Australian newspapers, initially made up of comic-strips illustrated by the artists Syd Nicholls, Syd Miller, George C. Little and 'Wep' (Walter Pidgeon). The strips consisted of separate vignettes featuring historical, biblical and fictional characters, always somehow involving a "Bonds Athletic vest" (singlet).[2] After the initial strips appeared and had been re-run, new comic-strips in the series began to be published from October 1937, all drawn by Miller.[3] In the creation of the Bonds advertising content, Syd Miller collaborated with Ted Moloney, who worked for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. Moloney and Miller had known each other since the 1930s when they both worked for Smith's Weekly newspaper.[4] The Embarrassing Moments from History advertising comic-strip continued to appear in newspapers until the end of 1939, though no new strips were drawn after October 1938.[5][6]

 
The first 'Chesty Bond' comic-strip, illustrated by Syd Miller, published in The Sun (Sydney), 19 March 1940.

In late 1939 Miller began to illustrate new advertising comic-strips for Bonds called Aussie History. It was a similar concept to the Embarrassing Moments from History content, but with a focus on Australian history. Like its predecessor, the Aussie History advertising comic-strip was published and re-run in various newspapers. It was relatively short-lived, appearing only from August to December 1939.[7] Several of the characters depicted in the Aussie History series had resonances with the 'Chesty Bond' character as it was later developed.[8]

The 'Chesty Bond' character was a co-creation of Miller and Moloney.[4][9][10] It was Ted Moloney who suggested to Miller the name "Chesty Bond" as "an image character" for their cartoon advertisements. The concept, as devised between the advertising account manager and the artist, was an "heroic straight man", who was "strong, ... kind, likeable, good-looking, but not a male model, and not a comic idiot". He would be "an Australian strong man... made super by or when he was wearing his Bonds singlet".[4][11] Miller set about sketching ideas for the character. Chesty Bond's distinctive chin was inspired by the jawline of Jack Lang, New South Wales Premier during the Depression years, a feature of the politician's face invariably utilised by cartoonists and caricaturists.[4][12]

It was usually Moloney who wrote the script for each advertising comic-strip, but on the first occasion Chesty Bond was published, Moloney had to travel to Melbourne and Miller was required to both write and illustrate the strip.[4] The first Chesty Bond comic-strip was published in Sydney's The Sun newspaper on Tuesday, 19 March 1940.[13]

The comic-stripEdit

The Chesty Bond comic-strip became a regular feature in The Sun newspaper in Sydney after it was first published in March 1940, appearing three times each week, every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.[14][13] For a ten month period, from May 1941 to February 1942, the comic-strip was also published in Sydney's Daily Telegraph.[15] From April 1942 the strip in The Sun was extended to four days a week, Monday to Thursday.[16] From September 1942 Chesty Bond was extended further to five days a week, Monday to Friday, thus possibly becoming the world’s first daily advertising comic-strip.[17][11][10]

 
'Chesty Bond' confronts Adolf Hitler (from Sydney's The Sun, 11 January 1945).

The central concept of the comic-strip was that Chesty Bond, with his characteristic jutting jaw and impressive physique, became a superhero while wearing his Bond's Athletic singlet.[10] Miller's wartime strips incorporated patriotic messages and invited readers to contribute to civilian efforts such as buying War Savings Bonds.[18][19] During the war-years Chesty Bond was often involved in encounters with the forces of Imperial Japan, including an encounter with General Tojo.[20]

The American film comedian Bob Hope arrived in Sydney in August 1944 after he and a group of entertainers had performed shows for troops in operational areas in the South and South West Pacific war zones.[21] Hope remained in Australia for two weeks before returning to the United States.[22] A sequence of eight comic-strips published in late October to early November 1944 featured an encounter between Hope and Chesty Bond on a Pacific island; an initial misunderstanding ended amicably with Chesty telling Hope, "You're doing a grand job entertaining the boys!".[23] Miller used the American comedian's image in the episodes without permission, which resulted in threats of a lawsuit.[11]

 
A panel from the introductory Chesty Bond comic-strip when it was first published in Brisbane's The Telegraph newspaper, 28 October 1946.

In a series of strips from January to March 1945 Chesty Bond confronts Adolf Hitler, disrupts a Nazi plot to clone their leader and takes Hitler captive, leaving him securely tied "until the war ends" using his Bond's Athletic singlet and guarded by a resistance fighter.[24]

Syd Miller continued to draw the Chesty Bond strip until July 1945. It was taken over by Francis 'Will' Mahoney after Miller was contracted to draw the comic-strip Sandra for Melbourne's The Herald newspaper.[25][26][14] During the period November 1945 to August 1950 Chesty Bond was also published in Melbourne's The Argus newspaper.[27] The comic-strip began being published in Brisbane's The Telegraph newspaper from October 1946.[28]

Will Mahoney continued to draw Chesty Bond until April 1947.[29] From about May 1947 the Chesty Bond comic-strip was illustrated by Virgil Reilly before he passed it on to Cec Linaker in February 1948.[30][14] Linaker drew the strip until December 1949, with John Santry taking over from January 1950.[31][A] In March 1951 the comic-strip reverted to four days a week, Tuesday to Friday.[32] John Santry continued to draw the Chesty Bond comic-strip until it was discontinued in 1963.[18][10][14]

Although the Chesty Bond comic-strip was clearly an advertisement, it proved to be immensely popular with the public. As a result of the successful campaign, Chesty Bond became the archetypal Australian hero synonymous with Australian masculinity and an icon recognised Australia-wide.[14][33][34]

Other publicity campaignsEdit

By the 1950s the image of the Chesty Bond cartoon character was being used in advertisements for the Bonds company's products.[35] Bonds Industries Ltd. also had 'Chesty Bond' mannequins constructed to advertise their products in stores. The mannequin was a hollow torso with painted facial features and moulded hair, designed as a shop display feature to be dressed in a Bonds Athletic singlet.[36]

In 1951 North Sydney and Manly-Warringah rugby league player Max Whitehead was selected to be the human model for the Chesty Bonds character, though a prosthetic chin was fitted for his photo shoots to make it a little more prominent.[37]

AcquisitionEdit

In 2009, Pacific Brands, the owner of Bonds, announced seven manufacturing site closures and job cuts totalling 1,850 and that the manufacture of all Bonds products will now be in China.[38][39]

GalleryEdit

External linksEdit

NotesEdit

A.^ The 'Chesty Bond' comic-strips were irregularly signed by the artists so dates of hand-overs from one artist to another are approximate, based on signed comic-strips and cited references.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Examples include: Bond's Athletic Vests, 10 October 1936, page 15; Bond's Athletic Vests, 31 October 1936, page 15; Bond's Athletic Vests, 28 November 1936, page 15 (all published in Australian Women's Weekly).
  2. ^ Embarrassing Moments from History: Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Bess (illustrated by Syd Nicholls), The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 4 March 1937, page 2; Embarrassing Moments from History: Noah gets told off (illustrated by Syd Miller), The Age (Melbourne), 5 March 1937, page 16; Embarrassing Moments from History: Romeo and Juliet (illustrated by George C. Little), Truth (Brisbane), 7 March 1937, page 39; Embarrassing Moments from History: Samson and Delilah (illustrated by Wep), Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga), 23 April 1937, page 2.
  3. ^ Examples include: Embarrassing Moments from History: Bligh Saves the Bounty, The Sun (Sydney), 24 October 1937, page 15; Embarrassing Moments from History: Ned Kelly Robs the Coach, Truth (Brisbane), 24 October 1937, page 4; Embarrassing Moments from History: The Landing of Governor Phillip, The Sun (Sydney), 31 October 1937, page 3.
  4. ^ a b c d e How Chesty Bond was born, letter to the editor from Syd Miller, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December 1982, page 6.
  5. ^ Survey ("Embarrassing Moments From History") of digitalised Australian newspapers, Trove website.
  6. ^ The last 'Embarrassing Moments from History' comic-strip was "The Return of the First Test Team", which first appeared in October 1938: The Return of the First Test Team, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill), 6 October 1938, page 8.
  7. ^ Survey ("Aussie History") of digitalised Australian newspapers, Trove website.
  8. ^ For example: Aussie History: The First Mannequin Parade, The Sun (Sydney), 26 November 1939, page 28; Aussie History: We're In the Navy Now, The Sun, 17 December 1939, page 23.
  9. ^ McGregor, Richard (16 December 1982). "150 million singlets sold - Chesty Bonds says: that's expansion". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 9. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d John Ryan (1979). Panel By Panel: an Illustrated History of Australian Comics. Cassell. pp. 18–24. ISBN 0-7269-7376-9.
  11. ^ a b c Lindsay Foyle (2012). "Miller, Sydney Leon (Syd) (1901–1983)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  12. ^ A selection of Jack Lang images: Lang in Politics (by Virgil Reilly), Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 4 July 1931, page 1; Bridge Work (by Lance 'Driff' Driffield), Smith's Weekly, 19 March 1932, page 1; Jack and Bob Nutting Out a Few "No" Posters (by Charles Hallett), Smith's Weekly, 15 July 1944, page 4.
  13. ^ a b Chesty Bond, The Sun (Sydney), 19 March 1940, page 22.
  14. ^ a b c d e Foyle, Lindsay (Autumn 2009). "Testy Chesty Noodled by Bonds Move". Inkspot. Australian Cartoonist's Association. p. 6. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  15. ^ Chesty Bond and His Bond's Athletic, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 15 May 1941, page 15; Chesty Bond and His Bond's Athletic, Daily Telegraph, 6 February 1942, page 7.
  16. ^ Chesty Bond and His Bond's Athletic, The Sun (Sydney), 23 April 1942, page 8.
  17. ^ Chesty Bond, The Sun (Sydney), 7 September 1942, page 6.
  18. ^ a b Chesty Bond is Alive and Living in Bondywollop, Australian Women's Weekly, 18 October 1972, page 37.
  19. ^ Examples: Chesty Bond: Jipped!, The Sun, 5 November 1942, page 7; Chesty Bond, The Sun, 30 August 1943, page 5.
  20. ^ Chesty Bond: It's On Again, The Sun (Sydney), 13 September 1943, page 5.
  21. ^ Bob Hope Due Today, The Sun (Sydney), 14 August 1944, page 3; First white woman they'd seen in 30 months, The Sun, 13 August 1944, page 5.
  22. ^ Hope Home After Tour, The Sun, 22 September 1944, page 3.
  23. ^ Examples include: Chesty Bond: Twins?, The Sun (Sydney), 24 October 1944, page 9; Chesty Bond: Applause, The Sun, 27 October 1944, page 7; Chesty Bond: To the West, The Sun, 2 November 1944, page 9.
  24. ^ Examples include: Chesty Bond: Ricochet, The Sun, 11 January 1945, page 8; Chesty Bond: Next Shift, The Sun, 19 January 1945, page 9; Chesty Bond: Carpet Eater, The Sun, 2 February 1945, page 8; Chesty Bond: For the Duration, The Sun, 16 March 1945, page 8.
  25. ^ Signed 'Miller': Chesty Bond, The Sun (Sydney), 4 July 1945, page 9; signed 'Mahoney': Chesty Bond, The Sun, 12 July 1945, page 9.
  26. ^ Sandra: Murder in Studio 3, The Herald (Melbourne), 30 July 1945, page 6.
  27. ^ Chesty Bond, The Argus (Melbourne), 19 November 1945, page 20; Chesty Bond, The Argus, 16 August 1950, page 32.
  28. ^ Chesty Bond, The Telegraph (Brisbane), 28 October 1946, page 9.
  29. ^ Signed 'Mahoney': Chesty Bond, The Sun (Sydney), 31 March 1947, page 11.
  30. ^ Signed 'Linaker': Chesty Bond, The Sun (Sydney), 5 February 1948, page 21.
  31. ^ Signed 'Linaker': Chesty Bond, The Sun (Sydney), 28 December 1949, page 21; signed 'Santry': Chesty Bond, The Sun, 2 January 1950, page 4.
  32. ^ Chesty Bond, The Sun (Sydney), 7 March 1951, page 27.
  33. ^ Lorinda Cramer (2021), 'Rethinking Men's Dress Through Material Sources: The Case Study of a Singlet', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 52, Issue 3, pages 420-422.
  34. ^ Did you realize that Chesty Bond is now 40?, Australian Women's Weekly, 16 August 1978, page 24.
  35. ^ More... Daddy Dazzlers, Australian Women's Weekly, 3 September 1952, page 55; Chesty Bond Athletics, Australian Women's Weekly, 17 October 1956, page 25.
  36. ^ Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences. "'Chesty Bond' mannequin torso with singlet by Bonds". Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  37. ^ "Chesty Bond was a gentle giant". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 May 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  38. ^ Pacific Brands Half Year Results - Presentation Briefing Slides 25 Feb 2009 Archived 26 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, accessed July 11, 2011.
  39. ^ Pacific Brands Chairman's Address to Shareholders 20 Oct 2009 Archived 26 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, accessed July 11, 2011