Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Christmas HOTSPUR (1933 and 1939)

This is the last post in my flashbacks to Christmas past for this year so I thought I'd do a mammoth post and blog about two issues instead of one. Both are issues of The Hotspur story paper, one from 1933 and the other from 1939. Admittedly not a comic, but as UK adventure comics grew out of the story papers they're very important to the history of comics.

Starting with the 'Big Christmas Number' of The Hotspur No.17, dated December 23rd 1933 (above). This issue hasn't weathered its the last 82 years very well and is in quite a poor state with tanned and dusty pages but I've tried to restore it in Photoshop as best I can. I'm not sure who drew the cover (possibly Jack Glass?).

Although this issue's 28 pages mainly consist of illustrated prose stories there are a few comic strips included on page two...
The text stories in this issue kick off by mixing Christmas with that old UK comics/story paper custom of corporal punishment in When Santa Claus Was Caned. Strange days...
The issue also contained a competition to win 'Rolo-Boko Sets', the 1933 equivalent of the X-Box...
The School Amid the Snows was another story in this issue...
...as was The Big Stiff. Innocent times.
Another piece of artwork from The Big Stiff...
Here's an interesting one. Black Wolf, a super villain who dressed as a wolf, long before such characters took America by storm. "He was Black Wolf, the cruelest and most remarkable criminal ever known in the North West." That's the North West of America by the way, not Lancashire. 
Another mini-strip; Absent-Minded Alfie. I'm sure this character appeared in a comic later but I've forgotten which one.
On the back page, an advert for three D.C. Thomson annuals on sale in 1933. Interesting that the phrase "dandy Annuals" is used by coincidence four years before The Dandy comic was launched.

Moving on six years, here's the Christmas issue of The Hotspur from 1939. This issue is still in excellent condition so didn't need much Photoshoppery. Very nice cover with new scenes of four of the stories inside...
No comic strips inside but of course in 1939 the same publisher now had The Dandy and The Beano to cater for that, plus the Fun Section in The Sunday Post. There's a nice variety of prose stories inside though, starting with a Western The Thunderer Takes Down his Guns. Art by Jack Glass I think, later to draw The Crimson Ball and The Stinging Swarm for The Dandy in the 1960s...

Next, a science fiction story The Last Rocket to Venus...



Then it's back to Earth for the lighthearted Tongue-Twisting Champion of Britain...


The tone of the issue shifted to a much darker theme with a new story, The Face At The Window, set in a harsh sadistic school...
Bearing in mind that World War 2 had begun only a few months earlier, Reckless Men of Q Squadron must have felt very up to date for the readers...
Finally, another story in the popular Red Circle School saga in Is He Letting Red Circle Down?

********************

My thanks to those of you who have followed my Christmas posts throughout this month. I hope I've shown some of your favourites as well as introduced you to some stories you may not have seen before. Unless any important comics news breaks I'm having a rest from this blog for several days now so I'll wish you all a Happy Christmas and hope you have something comics-related as a present. 

15 comments:

Peter Gray said...

Happy Christmas Lew and Happy New Year

Thanks for all your comic blog posts this year...

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Peter. A Happy Christmas to you and wishing you continued success with your artwork for 2016.

Manic Man said...

tis tis.. Wasn't Absent-Minded Alfie also in the Dandy? late 40s I believe but don't quote me on the year.
Hope you enjoy your holidays ^_^

John Pitt said...

MERRY XMAS, Lew! Sorry I haven't had much time for comments this year, hope to have more time next year!

Colin Jones said...

Merry Christmas, Lew, even though you don't bother with it. All my closest relatives are deceased too but I still like to make the effort - well, I like to get in plenty of food and alcohol anyway :D

Hedley said...

Love the blog Lew and you have finished in style with Hotspur....being a child of the 50s it was the Hotspur or the Victor with maybe the latter getting the nod because of Alf Tupper.

Liked the John Ryan highlight yesterday, have constantly failed to track down one of his Captain Pugwash cartoons..maybe I should switch to Harris Tweed

I hope tomorrow a boy opens an Annual and has the thrill of the creaking as the spine and cover begin the exploration of the goodies within.

A very Happy Christmas to you and yours from Detroit Michigan

Hedley

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks folks. Wishing you all the very best.

Hedley, there's a John Ryan Pugwash strip on my blog somewhere. I don't have time to look for it at the moment but if you don't find it I'll add a link in a few days.

James Spiring said...

Manic Man, according to Wikipedia, you're not far wrong - Dandy 1945-47, drawn by Fred Sturrock.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dandy_comic_strips

Dave W said...

Happy Christmas lew, and thanks for another year's worth of Blimey! blogs.
I don't comment all that often, but thoroughly enjoy reading each new post.

As for the current one - I was never a fan of the story papers, probably a little too young. Story papers must have been in decline in the mid sixties as I only ever saw one issue in my local newsagent's shop. It was an issue of Rover, a title I'd heard of, but had never actually seen. I remember excitedly buying this 'new' comic only to be utterly disappointed when I looked inside it when I got home. NO COMIC STRIPS?!
I couldn't believe my eyes!

I still have it somewhere. In recent years I've bought the odd Hotspur, Adventure story papers etc primarily for their lovely covers, but as you say, they are a link in the long history and development of British comics.

All the very best for 2016
Dave whit

Lew Stringer said...

A very Happy Christmas to you too, Dave. I'm pleased to hear you've enjoyed the blogs.

I was the same regarding story papers. I think Rover was the only one left by the late sixties (apart from things like Red Letter for women of course). The lack of strips put me off too, but in retrospect I can see how the story papers held such appeal for the previous generation. The stories were very tightly written and quite exciting, and the illustrations were superb.

Snowkatt said...

I reconigse your name ! From Transformers UK off course, but that's not why I am here.
I am wondering, since the focus of this comic is British comics.
Do you have any articles on Marvelman\Miracleman ?
Especially since Marvel Comics bought the character lock stock and barrel, untangled all the legal chicanery.
Reprinted all issues and even got Buckingham and Gaiman,to finish the stories they had to curtail 25 years ago.

Lew Stringer said...

I haven't covered the post-1980s Marvelman/Miracleman stories in any depth as other sites have already done so, but I've blogged about the fifties version a few times, such as in this post:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/marvelman-annual-1960-p1959.html

BK said...

Great to see in the 1930s UK annuals were still catering to the colonies at the same tie they exploited the romance of the adventurous Canadian wilds, with tales of Mounties, wolfish supervillains, and boys schools in log cabins. Thanks for posting these!

BK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snowkatt said...

I see that's cool.
I'm not a huge fan of the 50's version.
But the 50's version of Marvelman\Miracleman is an important piece of comics history and sadly overlooked in favour of the 80's version.

And happy new year !

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