Saturday, April 21, 2012
The Sloperian: A brand new magazine about British comics
A new fanzine dedicated to vintage British comics has just been launched. Entitled The Sloperian, the 40 page publication is a must-buy for anyone interested in the history of UK comics and their creators.
The Sloperian is edited by Alan Clark, who was the editor of the much-missed Golden Fun fanzine of a few decades ago as well as the author of The Best of British Comic Art and other books on British comics. As you have no doubt guessed, The Sloperian derives its name from Ally Sloper, the oldest recurring character in UK comics. Clark quite rightly considers Sloper to be "as important as America's Yellow Kid and the creations of Europe's Rodolphe Topffer and Wilhelm Busch" and hopes that his new magazine will educate and inform readers about the character and his creators.
Issue one begins with an appreciation of W.G. Baxter, Ally Sloper's definitive artist, accompanied by long-unseen illustrations from publications such as Ally Sloper's Half Holiday and C.H. Ross's Variety Paper.
It's not all about Ally Sloper though. Wisely, The Sloperian casts its net wider and includes articles on other papers and creators. There's a six page gallery of strips and covers by H. O'Neill for example, a feature on Black Bob artist Jack Prout, the story of D.C. Thomson story paper scriptwriter Gilbert Dalton, the history of Weary Willie and Tired Tim, and a nice long feature on the career of A.T. 'Charlie' Pease, artist of numerous humour strips for the A.P. comics.
All of the articles are well researched and well written. The layout of the pages is easy on the eye and there are numerous illustrations scanned from the comics to accompany each feature. Some of the fine line illustrations suffer slightly from the digital printing process but this is something that can be rectified in future issues and is certainly not a major issue.
The Sloperian is just the sort of publication we need. An intelligently written fanzine spotlighting creators and characters that would otherwise be in danger of being forgotten forever. There is a rich history of British comics that some scholars completely ignore, not out of malice but simply because the material isn't available for many to research. Thankfully Alan Clark and his contributors (Len Hawkey and Ray Moore) have combined their knowledge into this essential publication.
The Sloperian will be published irregularly and issue No.1 is available to buy now directly from Alan Clark on eBay. Considering the amount of information and illustrations packed within its pages the price of £5 is an absolute bargain. Order your copy here.