Monday, June 01, 2015

This week in 1938: MICKEY MOUSE WEEKLY - Whitsun issue


Decades before Odhams were publishing Smash!, Pow! and the other Power Comics the company had a big hit with another comic that mixed American reprint with all-new British strips. Mickey Mouse Weekly was the standout comic of its time; glossy tabloid pages, four in full colour photogravure, and a more modern look than its contemporaries. 


This issue of Mickey Mouse Weekly is No.122, dated June 4th 1938. The topline informs us it's the Whitsun Holiday Number although as the strip shows, Mickey isn't going anywhere as he's helping Minnie with the Spring cleaning. Behind the strip, the beaming sun and below it Goofy, Donald, Pluto and Minnie on a seafront promenade are the only things resembling a holiday theme in the comic. 

It's still an excellent issue though, as the weekly always was in its early years. A few new stories began that week, including the text stories The Mystery of the Marshes...
...and Skimpy's Scouts...
My favourite artist from this comic was Basil Reynolds, who drew Skit, Skat and the Captain. I've said it before but I'm sure Reynolds must have been an influence on Ken Reid. Look at some of the expressions for example, and the sweat beads flying from the heads of the characters. I also think that Basil Reynolds was about 20 years ahead of his time. For a 1930s strip this looks remarkably advanced in its layout and features more dialogue than most British strips of the era. 
The centre pages of the comic were a nice full colour selection of strips...
...including a reprint of the strip adaptation of Disney's Snow White drawn by Hank Porter...
The strip was re-coloured and slightly edited for the UK reprint but you can see scans of the original American printing at this website:

Over the page, another prose story in the form of a chapter of Shuffled Symphonies: Time Machine starring Donald and Mickey, - and more splendid artwork by Basil Reynolds. This was an all new Disney story produced for UK readers.
On page 9, another new British strip, Flashing Through, illustrated by Hugh Stanley White. You can find out more about his work at the Comic Vine website.
The inside back cover held a mixture of items including puzzles, the editorial, and a profile on comedian Sandy Powell...
On the back page, an advert for music and songs from the then-new Snow White movie. The records were released on the HMV (His Master's Voice) label, long before they had a chain of High Street stores. The company still uses a variation of Nipper the dog and the gramophone as its icon to this day. 

Beneath the ad, Floyd Gottfredson's great artwork for the Mickey Mouse serial which was a reprint of the page that ran in American Sunday papers at the time.
So there you have it; a few selected bits and pieces from the issue of Mickey Mouse Weekly that would have been in the shops 77 years ago this week. To put it in perspective, when this issue appeared The Dandy had only been around for six months old and The Beano No.1 was still several weeks away from publication! 

Here are some previous blog posts I've written on other issues of this great comic:


6 comments:

Peter Gray said...

I've got one of these...they are lovely to look at ..
and the covers are great!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes it must have really stood out beside comics such as Chips and Funny Wonder which were only printed on coloured paper. I think Mickey Mouse Weekly was a big influence on Dandy and Beano in its approach to comedy and dispensing with text beneath the pictures. Dandy gets the credit for that but MMW did it before them.

Hibernia Comics said...

Thanks for Showing these Lew, I've never seen any of the interiors before, lovely comics. I've not heard 'Whit weekend' used for a while!

Lew Stringer said...

No, I haven't either. It seems to be a phrase that's been forgotten now.

paddykool said...

Beautiful comics , these Lew. I think there was an elegance to the drawing back then that is largely gone from the modern styles. I look back and compare with the modern styles and find that that much of that lyrical linework is not present now. I suppose it's just a personal thing.I also love the tiny little details worked into the artwork. Much offhand work there too. Lovely stuff.

Lew Stringer said...

I suppose each generation have their own artistic influences which affects the look of the linework and even the body language of the characters. UK humour styles have become more simplified over the years, from Tom Browne to Roy Wilson to Leo Baxendale and beyond.

I also think it was beneficial when artists lettered their own work and they chose where the balloon would go. It's disheartening to put in any little asides and visual gags if a bloomin' big speech balloon is going to be plonked over it. Not that I'm dissing professional letterers of course. Most of them place the balloons in the area the artist intended but in years past I've had some experiences where the balloon was placed over a character or over a background gag. In the end you just focus on the foreground stuff.

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