Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Comic Oddities: BUMPER COMIC BOOK (1946-49)
The years following World War 2 saw an increase in comic production in the UK, and many new titles from smaller publishers appearing in newsagents. One such title was The Bumper Comic Book from Barrett Publishing Co.
Bumper by name but not by nature, this comic was a mere 8 pages for its first issue in 1946, rising to 12 pages for issues 2 to 8. Its size was hardly "bumper" either, being just slightly wider than an American comic book. It became a tabloid sized comic with issue 9, through to No.16, its final issue in 1949. (With just 16 issues in three years its frequency must have been quite irregular.)
The only issue I have is No.6, shown here, so I don't know if it's typical of the whole series, or whether its contents changed as much as its format. This edition is quite simplistic in its tone, seemingly aimed at younger readers than its rivals Dandy or Comic Cuts for example. It's a mixture of strips and little features, and most of its strips feature the anthropomorphisized elephant Jumbo and the Jungle Boys in a variety of settings, by various artists and under various story headers.
It's very basic stuff, and easy to see why The Bumper Comic Book is pretty much forgotten today. (Although I understand Harry Banger arrived as an artist on later issues which I'm sure improved them considerably.) The one thing that amused me, unintentionally, was a feature entitled Fun With Old Wire. Yes, this comic for little kiddies was inviting its readers to find an old wire coat hanger and make items such as a soap dish or a chair (?!) with the help of a pair of pliers. Still, those same readers had just lived through the Blitz so compared to skipping around unexploded bombs on the way to school the risk of having their hands impaled on wire was kids stuff I suppose.
I've never seen any other issues of Bumper Comic Book, so whether they included features such as Party Time With Broken Glass or Toys From Dead Rats is pure speculation.