Thursday, June 14, 2012
This week in 1938: LARKS
Larks was one of the Amalgamated Press comics which fell victim to paper shortages of World War 2. Launched in 1927 it folded in 1940. A pity, as from the evidence of this issue it was a lively and entertaining comic that was making an effort to be a bit more contemporary than some other A.P. titles.
This is the issue that would have been on sale this week in 1938. The logo's 3-D effect is quite powerful and unusual for the time, and having it flanked by two pocket cartoons instead of the cast of characters that traditionally paraded across such comics meant it was trying to raise a titter from the word go.
The cover strip, Dad Walker and Wally, was by Bertie Brown. This seems to be part on an ongoing plot about an "Old Crock's Race" with, no doubt, the pair caught up an amusing adventure on their travels every week. A.P. seemed to have quite a few of their characters embarking on journeys, harking back to Weary Willie and Tired Tim in Chips. It's certainly a useful plot device as it means the setting can be different and unpredictable each week, although historically the most popular humour strips have been those in the same familiar suburban setting every week (classroom, home, etc).
At this time, Larks had slightly less comic strip than other A.P. titles. Instead of the usual 50/50 comics/prose stories split, Larks had three and a third pages of strips, with the rest given to prose stories and short features. One such feature was this Picture Story Puzzle. This type of pictogram has often been used in comics over the years but not so much in recent times.
Page three was packed full of strips. You'll notice that, unlike most A.P. strips, there's no text beneath the panels. There's been a few strips called The Happy Family over the years but this version is drawn by Don Newhouse, who was the mentor of Roy Wilson. Unfortunately Newhouse became overshadowed by his ex-assistant's success but as this strip proves, his talents were considerable. Note the use of close-ups, a refreshing change from the usual full figure shots in old comics.
Luke and Len, The Odd Job Men, was drawn by Wally Robertson. Nice stuff. I'm not quite sure who drew Piccaninny Pete. George Parlett perhaps?
On page 5, Peggy The Pride of the Force was definitely a George Parlett strip. "A handful of sweet san fairy ann" says the chief copper. That's a polite way of putting across a certain expression but it still seems a little aggressive for a children's comic.
The prose story The Hermit of Mortan Mere featured an early British masked hero, - The Black Rider...
On the back page, James Cagney, the Famous Film Star "On the Aztec Trail". Cagney's life was undoubtedly more exciting than most, but probably not quite this dangerous. The artwork was by George Heath, father of Private Eye cartoonist Micheal Heath, and grandfather of ex-Marvel UK staffer and sometimes Combat Colin colourist Sophie Heath!