Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Comics beside the seaside - Part 2


Concluding my brief look at summertime strips from the weekly comics here's another bucketful starting above with a cover to Ally Sloper's Half Holiday dated October 1st 1892. I've shown this cover on the blog before but it's worth repeating for this theme. Great W.F. Thomas artwork from the days of beach huts and overdressed holidaymakers.

Zooming forward in time over 60 years later it's a Sally Barnes strip from TV Fun No.100, August 13th 1955 (below). Reg Parlett is the artist and the crowds on the beach are no exaggeration. In those days British beaches were packed, particularly when factories closed for a summer holiday week and all the workers took a break at the same time.


Moving on to 1st September 1962 and the girls' comic June featured an amusing little gag strip called Jenny. Does anyone know who drew this?


A few years later and Ken Reid's Frankie Stein goes to the beach in this funny full pager from Wham! No.55, 3rd July 1965. Notice how the storyline is much more complex than the basic seaside stories seen in the earlier comics (shown in part 1).


As far as I know, D.C. Thomson's Diana weekly never had an additional Summer Special, at least not in its early years. Presumably Thomson's felt that this big 24 page glossy was like a summer special every week, hence the 21st August 1965 issue being the "Sunshine Holiday Number" as part of its regular run. Unfortunately despite the lively beach painting on the cover none of the the interior strips have summer holiday themes.


IPC Magazines liked to use basic, simple formulas for their humour strips and Beat Your Neighbour used the old theme of rivalry to funny effect. Appearing a year before the tv sit-com Love Thy Neighbour, this strip of warring neighbours appeared in Knockout dated 11th September 1971.


Korky the Cat often appeared at the beach on the cover of Dandy Summer Specials but here in the weekly edition of The Dandy dated August 31st 1974 he and the Kits make do with a greenhouse and some builder's sand. Artwork by Charlie Grigg.


Finally, from Oink! No.8, 9th to 22nd August 1986, Tom Thug in Blackpool for the first time. The "Tom Thug on 'Oliday" strips were a recurring summer theme I'd use throughout the strips run. Some "sick" humour in this one I'm afraid, quite literally! (This was the first comic strip I'd drawn in colour. A bit ropey in places unfortunately!) By the way, the final panel had some dialogue altered by the editor, with "bog" replaced by "sink"!


That's it for this seaside trip through comic history. If you're heading for the beach this week have fun and watch out for crabs and beach bullies!

5 comments:

Laughing Indio said...

The Ally Sloper page is just stunning it looks like the work of Gustav Dore, if he had dabbled in comics.
And Frankie stein, what an absolute treat!
Why hasnt all of Ken Rieds work been reprinted?
Its criminal he was an absolute master of the form and his work is just being forgotten, its sick!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes it's a great shame that Time Warner (who now have the rights to IPC's characters) aren't doing anything with them. I agree, a collection of Ken Reid's work would be a must, particularly his comic-horror material from Odhams.

I think the problem may be: IS there sufficient interest in the material, apart from a few dozen fans, to make it worth their time? Perhaps DC Comics (also owned by Time Warner) could put out a "sampler" comic to test the market, but their expertise is in superhero comics for a fanbase that tend not to like humour comics.

Dave W said...

I really enjoyed your two part blog on British seaside comics. A great selection of strips through the decades. My favourite shown was Ken Reid's Frankie Stein - a real work of art. Despite having a full set of Wham! I would pay good money for a deluxe hardback volume of his Frankie Stein strips, printed on quality white paper.

I always think that Reid was at his peak while working for Odhams, with Queen of the Seas being my all-time favourite --

Lew Stringer said...

I agree Dave. I heard that Jonah was Ken's personal favourite, and it's a superbly crafted strip, but I also feel that his Odhams work was his manic best.

It's really shameful that there's no Ken Reid collection of any description out there. Britain is so behind the times in respecting its comic heritage compared to other countries.

Mike said...

That's two Frankie Stein strips you've posted now, both of which have a big "BOOOOOM" at the end plainly visible in the thumbnail version XD.

Still not a bad idea for a 'themed' post, i may have to steal it... starting with the Pleasure Book for Girls 1940... in which actual year the beaches were probably full of concrete blocks and anti tank mines.

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