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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

May 16th 1968: Double Strips in the Daily Mirror

Here's an oddity from an old issue of the Daily Mirror. 40 years ago industrial action by printing engineers meant that London-printed issues of the Daily Mirror did not appear on May 15th 1968. The following day, on Thursday May 16th 1968, the Mirror published a double helping of comic strips to compensate.

Back then, the regular strips on the "comic page" were time-traveller Garth by John Allard (which I always preferred to Frank Bellamy's later version), family sitcom The Larks by Jack Dunkley and comedy serial The Flutters by Ian Gammidge and Len Gamblin. (Andy Capp and The Perishers were found in different parts of the paper in those days.) With two out of three strips being serials it made sense to run two episodes in one day so that the strip page kept on the same schedule as the Northern editions (which hadn't skipped a day). However, the gag cartoon Useless Eustace (on another page) also featured two helpings. (Andy Capp and The Persishers did not.)

Even though the reason for the double helping was mainly practical rather than due to generosity I still can't help thinking that it's unlikely it would happen today. Would a current newspaper editor give extra space to the strips now? Very doubtful, but in those days comic strips were considered an important part of the Daily Mirror's line up. (In the war years, when the Mirror was down to just 8 pages because of paper shortages, strips took up a whole page, - an eighth of the newspaper!)

The Daily Mirror was the newspaper we had in our house throughout the sixties. I was so impressed by the "2 Days' Strips" that I tore out and saved that page, hence its inclusion here (albeit a bit yellowed and tattered, - I didn't save it that carefully). Sadly, none of those three strips appear in the Mirror now, replaced by other gag strips and the shallow almost plot-less Scorer, all in garish unnecessary full colour.


John Freeman said...

Newspaper strips seem to have a rum deal wherever they appear in print these days, and the number of adventures strips (apart from Striker in The Sun and even that will finish eventually according to creator Pete Nash) is minimal in the UK (in fact, is any paper publishing an adventure strip? Even the Mirror hasn't brought back Garth as it planned to).
I've always felt that just like agony aunt columns and good columnists, a comic strip with a dedicated following is a goldmine for any newspaper editor, but it seems they prefer to rely on celebrity and sport.
I had not realized that most newspaper strips in the US are syndicated and there are very few - if any - truly 'local' strips there.

Anonymous said...

Can't rightly say I remember the double-strips, but my family used to get the Mirror in those days (I was 12 years old and living in Bedford) and I do recall Garth, the Larks, Andy Capp, et. al.

More solid nostalgia.

--Mike Mittelstadt
Watertown NY

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