Five years ago I submitted an article to CoN detailing how, during a bout of depression, I began a search for Mr. Muggs. Mr. Muggs, being the hero sheepdog of a series of books I read as a child at St. Gerard's Sedimentary Catholic School.
The search led me on weird odyssey of sites dedicated to karaoke and dead actors, everything but Mr. Muggs. I was quite disappointed, because I thought for sure that the Internet would have something on him. George Carlin once said that if four people are doing something, there's a magazine for it. My own addition to that is that if there is one person doing something, there's a webpage for it. You mean to tell me that there is a page with a collection of stories about Roy Orbison being wrapped in Cling Foam (http://www.michaelkelly.fsnet.co.uk/karl.htm), but there's nothing on Mr. Muggs?
Much to my surprise, I was not the only one looking for Muggs. The message forum attached to the article got a few messages (sadly, not as many as the "Anime Sucks" or "Arranged Marriages" forums). Most were from people who were also looking for the books. Like me, they had fond memories of classes spent reading along to Mr. Muggs' adventures. Some even reported receiving Mr. Muggs certificates and other accolades for performing well in school. This annoyed me greatly, because though my class had Mr. Muggs books, nobody offered me no stinkin' certificate. I felt rooked big time. Then again, I was frequently denied stickers and certificates by cruel teachers when I was young. There's a story about a gold star sticker that I haven't quite been able to repress, which helps explain why I am such a bitter individual today.
But I digress.
One entry in that forum from "Kelly" goes:
"I've been dreaming about Mr. Muggs lately, and I too have tried searching the ether to no avail. I'm calling my folks to dig through the basement, apparently a great aunt of mine was one of the artists on the book. I remember having a framed and signed Mr. Muggs on my childhood wall forever! I'll see if we've got any books hidden away. Was this only in Essex County Ontario? I went to Maidstone Central....I believe the girl was Pat..."
St. Gerard's was not in Essex County, Ontario. But I do wonder how someone there got a "signed" poster or what have you. Signed by Muggs himself? How did that happen? Did they actually get to meet Muggs in person? The Great Aunt must have pulled some strings.
This forum also had someone submit another book featuring a Mr. Muggs, but it was not THE Mr. Muggs we remembered. Us Muggs purists will accept no substitutes.
I would also receive mail from people who were looking for Muggs, and wanted to know if I'd learned anything more. Sadly, I hadn't, beyond the fact that my girlfriend also remembered Mr. Muggs, and in fact her classroom had a stuffed Mr. Muggs doll to worship. I can't remember if we had one too, but it rings a bell.
Apparently one of the reasons I kept getting mail was that my article "The Search for Mr. Muggs" was often the only thing that search engines would return that was actually related to Mr. Muggs, and not karaoke, dead actors, and rappers you've never heard of. I suspect that Mr. Muggs fandom is surprisingly far-reaching, because a Net search for "Mr. Muggs" turns up a few pets that have been given that name, including at least one sheepdog. Perhaps we need a secret handshake to identify each other, like the freemasons.
Because I do not delete my email (unless it is spam or has a return address from aol.com), I was able to dig up a few of these mails. This one, from "Martha" revealed the existence of the "coveted Mr. Muggs button" something else that was never given or in fact mentioned in my class. I am beginning to think somebody in the Muggs Foundation really had it in for St. Gerard's. At any rate:
"Thank God I found your website article. I thought that I was the only one obsessed with my love for Mr. Muggs. I don't even remember any other character...just Mr. Muggs. I was beginning to think that it was all in my imagination. My husband thinks I belong in a nuthouse, but I LOVED Mr. Muggs. That dog is my best memory of grade one. I think I even got the coveted "Mr. Muggs button".
Have you found any or the readers, or the author yet?"
I had not, but Martha went on to reveal that she believed she had found the author, including her email. Apparently the author of the Muggs books was also a Martha... Martha Gombita, and an ex-nun (!), now married with four children and five grandchildren. Her email handle was skillfully phrased to reflect that information, with not nearly as many characters as you'd think.
My Martha said she was going to write to Martha Gombita for confirmation, and that rumor had it that her husband was ill. She encouraged me to write her ("minus the fucks and shits"), thinking that hearing from an old fan of her work might cheer her up a little. I wrote back to Martha and told her that I would do so if she could confirm it was really her. I didn't want to disturb someone who had nothing to do with my obsession. Martha did write back once, saying she had not heard back from her yet.
Stuff like this went on for awhile, with nothing of note developing. In her last email to me, Martha said she had found some workbooks by "Robert Cutting, et. al." and wondering if Martha Gombita was part of the "et al." Meanwhile, Muggsphiles continued to write in and ask if I'd found anything further, while they scoured garage sales, used bookstores and boxes of children's things packed away in the basement.
Finally, a "Jennifer" wrote to me. She and friend named Paula were also on the quest, and she provided a very key piece of information. Or rather, another friend of hers did. This person, Rob, claimed he could find anything given a few days. She was doubtful, but a few days after Jennifer mentioned this in an email to me, Rob came through, and found Mr. Muggs.
Guess what?? I have finally found Mr. Mugs books! I
may have hit the mother load!! ha!! If you recall, my
friend Rob said to me "jen, I can find anything, give
me a day".. (or some small time frame anyway).. well,
he did find a site, in 2 days for me. ( I was just too
crazy busy with other things, to get back to you..)
Now, funnily, I thought there was only one book on the
site...and I ordered it for my girlfriend. Turns out,
there are SEVERAL on the site. So, I am going to order
2 more books from there (of course, I dont want to hog
them all!) They are good prices too, $11, $4, etc. I
know, I know, you want the address.. Ok.. it is :
www.nikkisbooknook.com - and it is based out of
Calgary. I was going to say to her, when she confirmed
my order "i've been looking all over for this book"..
but I dont want her to jack up all of the prices!
ANyway.. I thought I should let you know, and if you
are still interested, they are there! Type in the key
word "mr mugs" with one G and you should find them, as
you scroll down the list and descriptions of the
books. Also, you can look in the category of
"education K-5" and you'll see them there.
This email not only turned up the Holy Grail of our quest--a bookstore where copies could be ordered--it also showed us where we had been going wrong all this time. Apparently time had ravaged our memories more than we realized. Every person I knew involved in this quest, including me, spelled the ol' sheepdog's name "Mr. Muggs" with two Gs. This in fact was incorrect. It was "Mugs" with one G.
In subsequent emails, Jennifer mentioned that typing the proper name, "Mr. Mugs" into most search engines almost immediately show listings for Mr. Mugs books (and also, a Mr. Mugs Coffee & Donuts in Brantford). It's interested to note how previous searchers had come close to putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Martha's information seems to be pretty close. She had correctly named the publisher: "Ginn and Company." As for the author being ex-nun Martha Gombita, a "Martha" is credited as an author, but it's Martha Kambeitz. Perhaps that's her maiden name.
Armed with the correct name, I found listings for books like "The Secret Life of Mr. Mugs," "Mr. Mugs Has Been Kidnapped" (Hey, that was one of my theories when I couldn't find him after five years of searching), and "Happy Days For Mr. Mugs." The memories came flooding back, particularly of my personal favorite, "Mr. Mugs - A Jet Pet." I remember liking to say "Jet Pet" over and over again. They're entertaining words with a pleasing sound, like "percolator" and "Shreveport."
I digress again.
For some, the quest will not be over until they get a copy of a Mr. Mugs book. Others will probably be satisfied with a description and a scan or two. Maybe someone who has perused my article will start a webpage dedicated to Mr. Mugs. It is my hope that this page will be returned to anyone searching for "Mr. Muggs" and that they will be able to correct their bearings and complete their search once they realizes it's "Mr. Mugs." All I know is have some mailing to do, to let the other searchers know what has been found. I have to thank Jennifer, Martha, and anyone else who contributed to the search. You helped me write a new book in the series. After "Mr. Mugs and the Blue Whale" and "First Prize for Mr. Mugs" stands this edition--"Mr. Mugs Has Been Found."