Considering the subject matter it would be easy to dismiss The Perishers as nothing more than a clone of Peanuts, but in fact its uniquely British sense of humour, combined with its detailed art style (in its heyday, Collins produced some of the most finely-detailed artwork ever seen in a daily strip), sets it apart.
Wellington is an orphan boy who lives with his dog, Boot. In the early days of the strip they lived in an approximately 10-foot (3-metre) diameter concrete pipe section in a seemingly abandoned builder's yard. In 1966 he and Boot moved into a small train station that had been closed by the Beeching Axe, and they have lived there ever since.
Wellington is something of a worrier, always concerned that the world is going to "rack an' rooney" (rack and ruin). Over the years he has worried that the world is becoming clogged up with dirt, that people might get crushed by the weight of air above their heads, and that each new year might be the same old year recycled to save money. Actually there might be something in that; Wellington has noticed that he and his friends never seem to get any older! A more concrete worry is that Bully Bloggs (an unseen character) might beat him up - which he usually does. On those rare occasions when he cheers up a small raincloud usually appears to dampen his spirits.
Boot is an Old English Sheepdog who lives with his boy, Wellington. Boot is convinced that he is in fact an 18th century English lord who was enchanted into a dog by a gypsy wench (just because he wouldn't buy her lucky heather). As a lord, he demands to be treated with resect, and often tells Wellington so to his face. Unfortunately Wellington only hears barking. Wellington thinks Boot is lazy and should help out with the household chores, but Boot usually manages to find some way to "accidentally" mess things up in the hope that he won't be asked again. He hates taking baths, and his bathtime struggles with Wellington usually turn into epic battles.
Boot was originally drawn with a short tail (on one occasion he met a bob-tailed sheepdog, and on hearing the name decided to call his own tail Fred), but Maurice Dodd later discovered that real Old English Sheepdogs don't have tails, and so over the course of several years Collins drew his tail shorter and shorter until it vanished altogether.
Maisie is an adorable little girl - at least according to her. In fact she has a tendency to become violent if she doesn't get her own way, and has a scream that can stun woodworm. She is scared of insects and spiders; on one occasion when Wellington tells her that the field they are walking through may contain thousands of hidden insects she is too terrified to move. She is in love with Marlon and continues to pursue him even though she suspects he may not be very bright. She imagines herself and Marlon as the heroine and hero of a romantic novel - he bold as a hawk, she soft as a dove. In reality, of course, she is as tough as nails.
Marlon is not very bright, but this has not dampened his ambitions. He once tried his hand at inventing. The fact that all of his inventions - fire, the wheel, the horse and cart and so forth - had already been invented by someone else did not deter him, because he was slowly catching up. One of his culinary inventions did make a splash - literally: the inch-thick ketchup sandwich. The splash in question occurred whenever he bit into one, caused by a huge dollop of ketchup hitting whoever happened to be standing nearby.
Later, Marlon dreamed of becoming either a brain surgeon, or "a bloke what goes down sewers in big rubber boots" - he considers either career to be equally prestigious. In the meantime he spends his pocket money on wooden go-karts built by Wellington, although Maisie often tries to stop him because she'd rather he was spending the money on her. Marlon resists Maisie's attempts to kiss him because of what happened to his uncle, who ran around kissing girls until he was 90 and then died from too much kissing.
Detail on Baby Grumpling to follow
Given the quality of Collins' artwork, and the strip's extreme longevity, it is unfortunate that there are no archive collections available.
This is now slightly bigger than a stub but there is still more detail on characters and situations to follow; until then, follow the link below for more information.