Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Books about comics - Part 2

As with part 1 of this feature (see here) I'm looking at some of the books about British comics which inspired this blog.

The History of the British Newspaper Strip by Denis Gifford was published in 1971. I picked up this copy years later, which must be a second printing as the copy I'd seen in my local library years earlier had been called Stap Me! (an expression from the Just Jake strip). See here for that version's cover.
Anyway, it's an good little book that gives readers a taste of the history of the UK newspaper strip, from well known favourites such as Pip, Squeak and Wilfrid...
...to more obscure ones such as Hylda Baker's Diary by Dennis Collins...
In 1983 the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood held an exhibition of Victorian 'Penny Dreadfuls' and comics from over the years. I went along and bought this souvenir, Penny Dreadfuls and Comics, a 124 page softback on the history of the publications.
Well illustrated, the book showed various covers from the 19th Century prose publications...
...to the (then) more contemporary comics...
...with accompanying text and information...
1983 also saw the publication of The Comic Art of Roy Wilson, a superb hardback written and compiled by Alan Clark and David Ashford...
This book was a revelation to me, showing what a fantastic artist Roy Wilson was, with numerous pages and covers of his work reproduced throughout...

The historians had even uncovered some unseen pieces of Wilson's art, such as these character sketches for the Smarty character that the artist probably used for reference while he was drawing the strip for TV Fun in 1954...
Even more revealing was this unfinished page, possibly intended as a frontispiece for an Amalgamated Press annual, but abandoned halfway through for some reason...
Three years later, in 1986, Alan Clark produced a companion book, The Comic Art of Reg Parlett, covering the popular artist's 60 years in comics...
The book is a great testament to the quality and versatility of Parlett's work, from his early days...
...up to strips that many of us will be familiar with...
It also showed some of his sketches, including these trial drawings Parlett did when he was designing the Whiskers the Wizard character for Wonder in 1944...
The final book in this selection is The Wonderful World of Film Fun, by Graham King and Ron Saxby, that was published in 1985. I remember being so fascinated by the story of this long-running comic that I read the entire book in one sitting.
The book is comprised of short chapters, each on a theme...




...with plenty of full strips reproduced...
It was only when I started pulling out various books to research this post that I realised there have been so many written on the history of comics over the years. I really ought to arrange the ones I have properly one day and put them all in the same bookcase instead of in various rooms as they are at present. If I included the ones on American comics too we'd be here forever but I'll show a few more about British comics soon!  

4 comments:

John Pitt said...

I'm going to have to find a copy of Penny Dreadfuls and Comics!
Brilliant post, Lew. Look forward to Part 3!

Lew Stringer said...

It's worth getting. It was a limited run exclusive to the exhibition but copies do turn up on eBay etc.

paddykool said...

The Alan Clarke books are really good aren't they? Roy Wilson was a revelation for me too when i came across his work .Have you seen Alan Clarke's fine fanzine "Golden Years"? i have collected several issues over the years .Worth collecting together as a book sometime.

Lew Stringer said...

Do you mean Golden Fun? Yes, I have most of those. Excellent fanzine. The Illustrated Comic Journal makes for interesting reading too, which was published around that time. British Comic World was another. All good stuff.

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