Monday, June 18, 2012
This week in 1957: THE COMET
The Comet, published by The Amalgamated Press, underwent a few format changes during its 13 year lifespan (1946 to 1959). Initially it was a tabloid comic, but in the 1950s a number of British publishers began approximating the popular American comic book size, and The Comet also adopted that format. From the time this issue saw print, this week in 1957, The Comet had 16 pages 185mm wide by 240mm high. Four of the pages were in full colour (using the three colour dark blue/red /yellow process, but no black) with the rest in black and white.
The cover feature at this time was Buffalo Bill. Westerns were a popular theme in the 1950s so it made sense to follow suit, with Buffalo Bill given a complete seven page story every week. I'm not sure who illustrated this story though I'm afraid.
Billy Bunter had a two page strip in The Comet at the same time his strip was also running in Knockout.
The centre pages ran the historical serial Claude Duval - The Gay Cavalier. (No sniggering at the back there.) The artist Patrick Nicolle is credited by some sources as the artist of this strip but the heavy brushstrokes of this episode don't look like his work to me. Perhaps a fill in? (UPDATE: Possibly by Fred Holmes?)
Jet Ace Logan became a popular character of the era, and later moved to Tiger when Comet merged into it in 1959. Some solid work here by John Gillatt, who had a long career illustrating various strips for Fleetway and IPC such as Football Family Robinson and a long run on Billy's Boots. He was also one of the artists on Scorer for the Daily Mirror.
The Comet also featured a Lone Ranger strip (possibly a reprint), again capitalizing on the Western craze. On the back page, the only light relief in the comic , the Chuckle Club joke page, with a 10 shilling (50p) prize for every joke published. At the foot of the page is a "Great News, Readers" announcement of a new look for The Comet, which from next week would drop the cover strip in favour of a painting.
The Comet was presumably aimed at an older reader than most British comics in that the stories featured considerably more text and dialogue than, for example, The Beano or even Eagle. Perhaps this was A.P.'s way of making it seem more literate, defending the comic from the mood of the times which had become suspicious of comics due to the fearmongering whipped up by the anti horror/crime comics campaign. Sadly, the fact that the comic folded two years later might suggest it backfired and that the verbose tales put off the audience they were trying to attract. If anything, comic storytelling of the time was becoming more streamlined, and the heavy word count that The Comet featured was going against such developments.