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Friday, January 18, 2008

Comic strips in the wartime Mirror

As a follow up to my comment in the previous blog (regarding comic strips in the wartime editions of the Daily Mirror) here's an example of such a page. Taken from the Daily Mirror of Tuesday December 23rd 1941, when wartime paper rationing limited the newspaper to just 8 pages, one whole page was taken up with comic strips.

Some of the strips have American influences. Belinda (or Belinda Blue Eyes as she was known) was a British version of Little Orphan Annie. (Although whether or not the scripts borrowed heavily from the US original I'm not sure.) Popeye was of course a U.S. reprint, drawn at this time by Bud Sagendorf. The character proved to be very popular with Mirror readers.

These strips are from a time before Garth arrived in the paper (his strip began two years later) but the hugely popular Jane was around in 1941, in a slightly larger format strip on page 2. As most people know, Jane was the Daily Mirror's most successful strip until Andy Capp turned up in the 1950s.

At the foot of page 7 was the likable everyman character Useless Eustace. This little pocket cartoon was drawn by Lancastrian artist Jack Greenall from 1935 to 1975, after which it was taken over by Peter Maddocks. Readers related to the gags and situations that Eustace found himself in and some would cut out the cartoons to pin to work noticeboards and the like.

The wartime Daily Mirror was exceptional in its abundance of comic strips. In comparison the Daily Sketch only had two strips in this period and the Daily Mail had none. The editors of the Mirror appreciated that their readers, mainly working class, were suffering the hardships of the war. With no television and not every house owning a radio, comic strips provided a welcome light relief from the anxieties of the news pages.


Anonymous said...

Useless Eustance looks good..not heard of him before..Andy Capp the artist drew a work gag cartoon before in the Northen Mirror

The Perishers were another good one with a similar American Peanuts feel...they liked being inspired by comic strips over there and making them our own..

Peter Gray

What is your thumb hiding on the front page...yours nosey...

wookie said...

Hi! My Dad remembers a cartoon strip from wartime Daily Mirror, approx 1942-1943. He used to fondly remember it, it was science fiction, about a pilot who was saved by aliens I think. The aliens had names like "Shining Ones" or something like that. He didn't think it was "Garth". Would you happen to know what this strip might be? You have a great blog, btw!

Lew Stringer said...

That sounds like the Jeff Hawke strip from the Daily Express in the 1950s Wookie. Some info about it here:

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