Titus the Newt
'Titus the Newt' ran in the now-defunct 'News of the World' for a few years in the 1980’s.
Roger had come up with an idea of a new strip called "The Travels Of Ant Arthur". This was to be about a soldier ant who was thrown out of the colony for being a pacifist, and what subsequently happens to him on his travels.
When quizzed on the title, Roger explained it wasn't a pun on anything "...it just sounded daft -- as in 'Aunt Arthur' "
“The concept just didn't work", said Roger. "Apart from anything else, drawing an ant as a main character has many problems, and Andrew rightly pointed these out.
However, there was something about the feel of the idea that I liked and I kept going back to it in my head. One of the peripheral characters in the strip was a newt who was permanently drunk (not the kind of thing you could do today) and this appealed to me and I decided to develop him.
One night when I was thinking about the character I thought up a name for him -- 'Titus' (as in ‘tight as a newt’).
The more we discussed the strip with each other, the more we thought Titus should be the central character. It was the kind of strip that, these days, would never have been published.
Not my finest hour, but Andrew produced some great artwork for the pond/woodland setting. What I'm saying is, re-look at everything you do. A fresh perspective, after a period of time, can make a huge difference."
Roger also said that Titus was a "very frustrating" strip to do because it was totally different from Beau, where a punch-line could be built up. With only one strip every Sunday, he explained, a relationship could not be created between characters, or have a continued story line, as readers tend not to remember what happened from the previous week.
“After all”, says Roger, “newspaper strips are nothing more than a casual read to some 99% of the readership. I must admit that I looked on Titus as more of a job than anything else. It could not be expanded, and the News of the World actually dropped the strip if space was tight.
For all these reasons, I looked on the strip as a more of a chore - Beau Peep is definitely my first love!”