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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Comics: THE COMET (1947)

The Comet was originally launched in 1946 by J.B. Allen on Manchester and in 1949 was taken over by the Amalgamated Press of London to go on to greater glories featuring strips such as Battler Britton and Jet Ace Logan before merging into Tiger in 1958.

Here's one of the early J.B. Allen issues from Christmas 1947. The after effects of World War 2 were still being felt in the paper industry and the comic was on a fortnightly instead of weekly frequency. It only had eight pages (as did many comics of the time) and was printed in deep orange and dark green ink; a way of standing out on the shelves without the expense of full colour.

A seasonal logo but no festive aspect to the serial strip on the cover. Jungle Lord was drawn by R.Baumont, using the signature "Beau". White men taking charge of black natives was a common theme in British comics of the day, as was the name Dick for the hero.

Inside, the contents had the traditional split of 50% comics/50% text pages like most British comics. Here's page three, featuring a seasonal greeting from the anonymous "The Editor" plus a few curious pieces of a bygone era. Note the article about the amateur radio enthusiasts who spend "night after night, talking to other amateurs in other parts of the globe". Hah! Can you imagine the people of our modern 21st Century using technology for such pursuits? The very idea. ;-)

You may also have noted a pious attitude to other races in the other items on that page. Sadly that's something else that still exists today.

On page four were the only humour strips in the comic, and also the only ones that had Christmas themes. The artwork is fairly basic compared to material seen in DC Thomson and A.P. comics of the time, and the gags are ancient even for 1947, but they do the job. That's a nicely festive decorated border too.

There's another time-trip to a bygone Christmas scheduled soon. What year will we arrive at next?


Mark said...

My goodness look at all that text!

I bet when paper was not in short supply and they released full-length comics they would have given kids a good hour or two of entertainment getting through all that reading.

Lew Stringer said...

Eight page comics had been the norm long before paper shortages came along. Since 1890 in fact, although some (such as Film Fun in 1920) had 20 pages, and the early Dandy and Beano had 28 pages.

Page count began to expand more often in the 1950s, no doubt due to the end of rationing, but 32 pages didn't become standard until the 1960s. (And even then, Dandy and Beano still had 16 pages each and comics such as TV21 only had 20 pages - but what pages they were!)

Mike said...

A lot of the soley text-based papers did have more than 8 pages though. The Union Jack had 16 from 1894 and I think 24 or 32 upon re-launch in 1903 (issues from that time have survived surprisingly well as it had 'glossy' paper for a short time). They certianly fill up a day and a half's worth of break times at work! Even better was The Boys Friend, which was tabloid sized and filled with 5 columns of tiny text. A weekly comic that really took a week to read! Only Japan has that sort of thing these days... with only 3-4 pictures on a page but 400 pages XD
Anybody know who Colin was? I've seen the same ad in issues of (fitness and) Sun.

Lew Stringer said...

Very true Mike, although I wasn't considering text story papers as comics. I was thinking more of titles such as Comic Cuts and Funny Wonder.

James Spiring said...

Case in point about the page counts - Beano and Dandy didn't get their pre-war pagination back until 1998, when they increased from 24 to 32 pages. Of course doing this in the 50s would've lowered the overall quality of all the Thomson comics, as Watkins, Law, Reid and Baxendale can't draw everything!

Lew Stringer said...

That's true James, although sometimes I think it's unfair when we compare everyone to those four giants as their talents were exceptional. As it was, DCT still had some top class talent as well as the four artists you mention. People like Bill Holroyd, Charlie Grigg, Eric Roberts, Paddy Brennan... all in the top league of comic art.

Regarding page counts, it's true the DCT humour comics were slow to catch up with the standard but Fleetway/IPC and the DCT adventure comics had been using the 32 page format for quite a while.

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