Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas comics and the Slap-Up Feed

As with comics of some other countries, it's traditional for seasons and celebrations to be featured as a theme in British comics. The spectacular crackle of the Firework themed issues for November 5th are long gone now, frowned upon by the establishment, but stories about Easter Eggs are often spotlighted for the appropriate time of year and the Christmas theme comics are still hanging in there.

In British comics, Christmas is celebrated with snow on the logo and whatever slapstick situations can be contrived out of plots involving Christmas trees, presents, Santa, snowmen,... and the inevitable "slap up feed" (often in the final panel). I'm not sure when the "slap up feed" became a tradition in UK comics but the examples above, both from the very first Film Fun Annual (dated 1938, released 1937) show that it's at least 70 years old! (The term "slap up feed" has passed into legend now, spoofed by Viz et al, but in the example above from a Laurel & Hardy strip we see an early use of it in the caption beneath the panel.)

Why did the "slap up feed" become the last-panel reward of so many old Christmas strips? Undoubtably because in those times of hardship a feast of turkey and all the trimmings would have been a luxury indeed. We live in far more comfortable times now, but the "slap up feed" remains part of some Christmas strips (I've used it in this year's Xmas Team Toxic story in Toxic for example).

There are fewer traditional British comics around now, but for those that remain the snow still falls on Christmas Day and in certain corners of comicdom the festive feast remains.

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