Thursday, March 19, 2015

Flashback to 1909: SCRAPS

Scraps was published by James Henderson and Sons from 1883 to 1910. This issue is dated January 23rd 1909, and I bought it from Denis Gifford over 30 years ago. As you can see from some of the photos here the edges of the pages are very fragile but the paper itself is still supple. It hasn't deteriorated much since I bought it as I've kept it in a box but clearly it had been manhandled a bit over the decades.

Strictly speaking it's not a comic, but it does feature several complete comic strips which make it worthy of inclusion in the history of British comics. (Its rival Comic Cuts actually nicked some cartoons from Scraps for its first issues, so there's that connection too.) Let's take a look at some of the pages. 

Quite a bumper format compared to the 8 pagers such as Comic Cuts and Chips, this issue of Scraps had 20 pages including its salmon-pink covers.  Inside, the paper opened onto a title page containing various cartoons and short strips. 

The contents (of this issue at least) were 40% cartoons/strips and 60% text stories/anecdotes/features etc. Here are a few more of the cartoon/strip pages. Click on them to see them larger...

Much of the humour seems stilted, incomprehensible, or in places perhaps just unfunny to modern tastes. Such is the changing nature of social satire/comedy. Some of the cartoons are almost certainly reprints from overseas but I think most of them display enough of British culture for them to be definitely home grown. 

Some pieces are signed, others not. I've found some information on a couple of the artists:
Edgar A. Holloway:

E.G. Lutz, American artist:

On the back page, an advert for Beecham's Pills, a laxative. Advertisements in papers of a century ago were often focused on the digestive system and cures for constipation. These days strips feature fart jokes so the pills must have worked.


Kris Shaw said...

Fascinating stuff, Lou! I am delving into early American comic strips at the moment (currently reading an excellent Yellow Kid hardcover from 1995). I would love to see someone compile these vintage strips into a hardback like Society Is Nix or Mr. Twee Deedle.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks for commenting Kris. (It's Lew, not Lou, by the way. Common mistake. :)) I would think that some of this material is public domain by now although copyright laws are different in the UK. (I understand material goes P.D. 70 years after the death of the author, which might just about cover some of these cartoons.) To be honest though I don't think there'd be enough interest in this material in the UK to make a collection economically feasible.

John Pitt said...

That ad reminded me, - as a kid, we would sing, "Hark the herald angels sing,
'Beechams pills are just the thing!'...."

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