Saturday, January 03, 2009
Happy New Year 1947 - Chips style
A belated and brief blog for the New Year as I'm currently laid low with that winter bug. Rather than rattle on about 2009 I thought it'd be fun to slip back in time 62 years to look at the New Year's edition of Illustrated Chips and The Joker from 1947...
From here on I'll refer to the comic merely as Chips, as that was what it seemed to be mostly regarded as, by readers and editors. One of Britain's longest running comics, this issue was the 2,800th edition of Chips, - a record rarely matched by other comics. The cover stars were as always Weary Willie and Tired Tim, forever wandering from one fun adventure into another, drawn by Percy Cocking.
By this period in its life, Chips had undergone a few changes. Gone was the tabloid format (although it was still a bit larger than today's comics) and the pink paper had been replaced by red spot colour on its covers. This was no doubt in order to compete with The Dandy and The Beano, but Chips still lacked its rival's full colour covers. The most drastic change though was that by this time Chips was now a fortnightly comic due to wartime (and post-war) paper shortages.
Other than that, the format remained as it had ever been: eight pages including a 50/50 split of text stories and strips. This steadfast refusal to change was perhaps instrumental in why Chips would merge into Film Fun several years later.
The writing did seem to be on the wall for traditional Amalgamated Press comics thanks to wartime shortages. The long-running Joker comic had merged into Chips in 1940, bringing with it the popular strips Dickie Duffer and Alfie the Air Tramp. The Dickie Duffer strip above is by Albert Pease. Dickie's Teacher doesn't bother using the cane as corporal punishment in this episode, instead relying on the old slapstick favourite of a kick up the arse.
Dane the Dog Detective could easily give Black Bob a run for his money. Somehow though a "clever collie" seemed more believable than a walloping Great Dane.
The back page of this issue features the always-popular Casey Court. These intricate fun pictures fascinated young readers and the format would of course be used by many other comics, including When The Bell Rings in The Beano, The Banana Bunch in The Beezer, and Terrors of Tornado Street in Buster. (Not to mention my Super School page in last week's Beano!)
Beneath Casey Court is Alfie the Air Tramp, this time strangely without his mode of transport. Artwork was still by John L. Jukes I think. Identifying some of these artists isn't always easy as they were asked to draw in the house style. That said, their work was full of fun and period charm and the A.P. comics of this era were pure good natured entertainment.
Here's an interesting item above. Although Chips was no relation to IPC's later Whizzer and Chips except in name, the editor of the original, "Corny" (Fred Cordwell?) refered to his readers as "Chipites" - a term revived by Bob Paynter for the IPC version!
I'll cover the history of Chips in a little more depth in a future blog.