It’s 1974. Massimo Osti, after a successful stint making t-shirts, begins his own label. He calls it Chester Perry. Fred Perry, the men’s fashion label famed for the tennis shirt aren’t too happy with the name Chester Perry believing it too similar, so a legal dispute begins. The conclusion was that Chester Perry would have to change their name. So in 1975, CP Company were born. But who the hell is Chester Perry, where did that name come from?
What is Chester Perry?
Maybe the question shouldn’t be who is Chester Perry, but what is Chester Perry? You see, the name Chester Perry comes from a comic strip called Bristow. The star of the show is Bristow, a hapless purchasing clerk(18th in line for Chief buyer don’t you know) and he works in the Chester Perry Building, for the Chester Perry organisation, or to give them their full name R.L.Chester-Perry.co.Ltd.
Our Hero Bristow
Bristow works on the 3rd floor of the Chester Perry building in the buying dept. He is one of life’s optimists, always dreaming of a better life. He believes his destiny is to be a brain surgeon. But if he isn’t going to be a surgeon then next best is to be an author. His book, Living Life in the Buying Department is still waiting for a publisher to pick it up, but they will one day.
Chester Perry House has 17 floors, with the factory on the ground floor and the directors seated on the top floor. As you can imagine Bristow has a vast array of colleagues. There is his manager Fudge, Miss Sunman, Jones, Hewitt, Dimkins, Gordon Blue and Mrs Purdy the tea lady.
Bristow has a frequent visitor, a nameless pigeon who site on his window ledge. The bird travels south during the winter to visit Bristows counterpart, a black man in a white suit.
Bristow has a crush on Miss Pretty, a frequent visitor to Chester Perry House, who works for Kleenaphone. When he isn’t working Bristow takes his holidays at the Beach resort Funboy’s Sur La Plage.
The Comic Strip
The comic strip Bristow first appeared in various newspapers in 1961, before being taken up by the London Evening Standard in 1962. To date there has been over 14,000 Bristow comic strips written, all by the same Author, Frank Dickens. As well as the regular comic strips in UK newspapers, it also made its way across the other side of the world to Australia and, where it was published in the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Bristow the comic strip holds a Guinness World Record. It made it into the world record books, becoming the longest running comic strip by a single author, after appearing continually since the 18th September 1961, in Aberdeen’s Press & Journal Newspaper.
As well as the regular newspapers Bristow appeared in, there were 11 Bristow books published. And key to our story here, the only language apart from English where Bristow was published in, was Italian.
The author of Bristow is Frank Dickens. Frank was born in 1932 and after leaving school worked as a buying clerk for three months, the same job that Bristow had at Chester Perry!! After National Service he moved to Paris to try and make it as a professional cyclist. When that failed he made some money by selling cycling cartoons to some French magazines.
He then moved back to the UK and started working for the Sunday Express as a cartoonist. Following on from that he found work with the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Times. It was at the Sunday Times while writing one of his other comic strips, Oddball, that the main character of Bristow was developed.
As well as Bristow, Frank wrote other comic strips such as Albert Herbert Hawkins, his most financially successful one. He has also published childrens books and some thrillers about bike racing.
Between 1999 & 2000, 14 Bristow programme’s were played on BBC Radio 4 with an all star cast, including Michael Williams(a fine romance), Rodney Bewes(The Likely Lads), Dora Bryan(Carry On), Roger Lloyd Pack(Only Fools and Horses) and Jon Glover. All episodes were scripted by Frank Dickens.
So what do we know about the link between Massimo and Bristow the comic strip? Unfortunately very little. What we do know, is that Bristow was published in Italy, and translated into Italian. The only language to have Bristow translated. There is no evidence of any newspapers running the strip on a daily basis. When they were first published in 1962 Massimo would have been 18 having been born in 1944, so unfortunately there is no story of him as a wee boy growing up reading Bristow each day from his father’s newspapers. He must have picked up one of the books and loved the adventures of Bristow so much that he decided to call his company Chester Perry.
Here’s a video, in Italian, of Frank Dickens talking about creating the Bristow cartoon strip.