Friday, January 18, 2008
Comic strips in the wartime Mirror
As a follow up to my comment in the previous blog (regarding comic strips in the wartime editions of the Daily Mirror) here's an example of such a page. Taken from the Daily Mirror of Tuesday December 23rd 1941, when wartime paper rationing limited the newspaper to just 8 pages, one whole page was taken up with comic strips.
Some of the strips have American influences. Belinda (or Belinda Blue Eyes as she was known) was a British version of Little Orphan Annie. (Although whether or not the scripts borrowed heavily from the US original I'm not sure.) Popeye was of course a U.S. reprint, drawn at this time by Bud Sagendorf. The character proved to be very popular with Mirror readers.
These strips are from a time before Garth arrived in the paper (his strip began two years later) but the hugely popular Jane was around in 1941, in a slightly larger format strip on page 2. As most people know, Jane was the Daily Mirror's most successful strip until Andy Capp turned up in the 1950s.
At the foot of page 7 was the likable everyman character Useless Eustace. This little pocket cartoon was drawn by Lancastrian artist Jack Greenall from 1935 to 1975, after which it was taken over by Peter Maddocks. Readers related to the gags and situations that Eustace found himself in and some would cut out the cartoons to pin to work noticeboards and the like.
The wartime Daily Mirror was exceptional in its abundance of comic strips. In comparison the Daily Sketch only had two strips in this period and the Daily Mail had none. The editors of the Mirror appreciated that their readers, mainly working class, were suffering the hardships of the war. With no television and not every house owning a radio, comic strips provided a welcome light relief from the anxieties of the news pages.