This weekend the internet saw one of the most significant advances for UK comic historians as 97 years of The Daily Mirror became available to download as PDFs. Naturally this is pleasing news for any historian, to be able to see the news as it was reported in the day, whether with wise reason or errors of judgement, but for comic enthusiasts it means long out-of-print classic strips such as Jane, The Fosdyke Saga, Garth and many more are now available to read for anyone with a computer.
The website ukpressonline (http://www.ukpressonline.co.uk) has the facility to search through pages of The Daily Mirror from 1903 - 2000, and from 2000 only, Daily Express, Sunday Express, and the Daily Star. There is a fee, but it's very reasonable, starting at £5 for 48 hours. In that time you can search their database for whatever news items or strips you wish to find. If you want to book a longer time to browse the fee is higher of course, but well worth it.
Admittedly the search function doesn't seem to allow you to run through issue by issue. This means reading consecutive strips is difficult. I found one way of doing it, by advancing the date in the URL, but it's a laborious process and doesn't always work. (Some issues seem to be missing, or perhaps there's a technical glitch.) Clearly the site is aimed more at people searching for specific reference keywords in articles rather than following daily strips. However it is fascinating to find old Mirror strips by putting in a search for The Flutters or Buck Ryan for example within certain time periods. Some pages are more pixelated than others, and the linework of strips isn't as smooth as should be, but they're still legible.
Another interesting find was that comics such as Buster, Wham!, Smash!, TV21, Lady Penelope, and even D.C. Thomson's Bunty were advertised in the Daily Mirror. Buster had particularly prominent coverage due to the character being the alleged "Son of Andy Capp". (A heritage played down and mostly forgotten after several months.)
Run a search for horror comics and the archive turns up several 1950s articles damning American comics for corrupting children. The paranoia and climate of fear is incredible to behold in these articles of the time.
Such fears even made it to the cover on at least one ocassion, with the notorious 1954 story of "hundreds of children" rampaging through a churchyard looking for a vampire "after the children had been reading horror comics". The real horror is the way in which such scaremongering media articles manipulated the nation against comics.
The website is an important resource for serious historians, students of pop culture, and casual browsers. Truly fascinating stuff.