Saturday, May 03, 2014
Mickey Mouse Weekly (Coronation issue 1937)
Comics have often commemorated various points in history which adds to their interest as they become social documents of the times. This 66th issue of Mickey Mouse Weekly was no exception. Published on May 7th 1937, it celebrated the upcoming coronation of King George VI which took place on May 12th. (George's brother, Edward, had abdicated in order to marry divorcee Wallace Simpson. Different times back then, with Edward's actions making him unsuitable for the throne.)
Inside, an editorial claimed that the cover to this issue had been "specially drawn for ALL of you by Mr.Disney". It certainly bears Walt Disney's signature, but the likelihood is that it was drawn by Wilfred Haughton, a British artist who was the regular cover illustrator. Unless any of you know differently?
Mickey Mouse Weekly was a splendid comic. Published by Odhams, it was tabloid size with glossy paper, quality printing, and four of its 12 pages in full colour. Compared to its rivals, which were mostly 8 pages in black ink on on cheap coloured paper, Mickey Mouse Weekly must have seemed really special.
The contents were a mixture of Disney newspaper strips and originated British strips and prose stories. Here's one of the pages by British creators: Elmer and Tillie sharing a page with Skit and Skat. Basil Reynolds was usually the artist but this page looks a little rushed in places for his style. Perhaps it's just not Reynolds at his best, or perhaps he was a bit down because this was the last time these characters would appear for a while.
There's a myth in UK comics that all British comics featured text beneath the panels until The Dandy came along in December 1937 and started featuring speech balloons more regularly. I disproved that tale two years ago with this post: http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/myth-of-speech-balloon.html
As you can see, Mickey Mouse Weekly, which predates The Dandy, also proves that claim is untrue, as speech balloons appear throughout the strips, none of which are burdened with text under the pictures. It's time to rewrite the history books.
The full colour centrespread of this issue featured a mixture of American Sunday newspaper strips, although the 'pirates cave' vertical strip is very British in style so is presumably original.
A British adventure serial in the issue was The City of Jewels, illustrated by John McCail...
Being the coronation issue, a photograph of the royal family was expected, - appearing after a text adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper. That's the current Queen in the bottom right there, as a young princess, which gives you some scale of the age of this comic.
On the back page, Mickey Mouse in the Foreign Legion; reprinting the US newspaper strip serial by the great Floyd Gottredson.
I recently bought this comic on eBay and I'm very pleased with the purchase as the condition is excellent. It just goes to show that paper will keep in top shape for decades if stored in the right conditions and isn't treated roughly.