Thursday, November 06, 2008
Bonfire Night 1934: The Joker
I haven't covered pre-war comics very often here but that's something I intend to rectify whenever possible. Sadly there seems to be very little interest from collectors regarding pre-war comics and it's an area of British comics history that's becoming forgotten. Even the BBC's otherwise splendid Comics Britannia series failed to acknowledge that comics even existed prior to The Dandy.
Here's a brief example of a typical British weekly of the pre-war era. The Joker was one of many comics published by The Amalgamated Press, the company that later became Fleetway. Like its sister papers Comic Cuts, Funny Wonder, Illustrated Chips and the like, the format of The Joker was 8 tabloid pages, in black ink on coloured paper. (For instance, Joker was on green paper, Chips was on pink, Film Fun was entirely in black and white. Actually Comic Cuts may have been just black and white too. I'm not sure.)
In keeping with the firework theme of recent posts, this is the "Bang up-to-date firework" issue for 1934. Cover strip Alfie the Air Tramp was drawn by John L. Jukes I believe. Tramps had been popular fun characters in comics since Weary Willie and Tired Tim in Chips in the late 19th Century. No doubt editors wanted to bring something new to the theme and in this case it was a tramp that owned his own plane! Wha--?
The firework fun continued with other characters inside. All short slapstick strips, as was the norm of the time. Midge and Moocher, shown above, ends with a scene that no children's comic could publish today: fireworks accidentally flung onto a living room fire with a baby in the heart of the explosions. "Hurrah! For, as you can see, the fireworks fell into the fire, and the kid had a fine show!"
It truly was a different world back then!