British Comicbooks The first 70 years of British comics is dominated by two publishing houses. One was created in 1904 when Lord Harmsworth combined several companies into Amalgamated Press, later known as Fleetway Publications. Harmsworth published what is arguably the first British comic, Comic Cuts, which ran from 1890 to 1953. Amalgamated Press dominated the 1920s, producing comics for all ages. They were low-priced, mostly black and white, and most carried a mixture of strips and illustrated text. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals

 

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British Comicbooks

 EARLY BRITISH COMICS

 From 1900 until the early 1960s, comics vied with sweets for the pocket-money pennies of British children. The sweets are long gone, but many comics survive to bring pleasure to nostalgic adults and dedicated collectors

 The first 70 years of British comics is dominated by two publishing houses. One was created in 1904 when Lord Harmsworth combined several companies into Amalgamated Press, later known as Fleetway Publications. Harmsworth published what is arguably the first British comic, Comic Cuts, which ran from 1890 to 1953. Amalgamated Press dominated the 1920s, producing comics for all ages. They were low-priced, mostly black and white, and most carried a mixture of strips and illustrated text.

 The date of the Golden Age of British comics keeps moving. In the 1960s, it was the Edwardian period. Now it's the 1930s, when Amalgamated Press titles, such as Illustrated Chips, The Funny Wonder and Film Fun, led the way. Near the end of the decade they were challenged by a Dundee-based firm, D C Thomson, whose ever-popular titles, The Dandy (1937) and The Beano (1938), soon outstripped their rivals.

 These put the accent firmly on knock about humour, and abandoned the tradition of putting a few lines of text under each illustration. This device, presumably introduced as a sop to the moral guardians who thought comics encouraged illiteracy, soon disappeared from most other comics, too.

 BUMPER FUN

 In the 1950s, D C Thomson added two larger format titles, The Topper (1953) and The Beezer (1956), and continued to lead the way in humour. They were blessed with a number of inventive writers and illustrators, including Dudley Watkins (Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty, Biffo the Bear, Mickey the Monkey), Alan Morely (Keyhole Kate, Nosey Parker, Hungry Horace, Old Ma Murphy, Nero and Zero), Ken Reid (Roger the Dodger, Jonah, Grandpa), David Law (Beryl the Peril, Cap'n Hand, Dennis the Menace) and Leo Baxendale (Little Plum, Minnie the Minx, the Bash Street Kids, the Three Bears, the Banana Bunch). Watkins, in particular, was also a fine adventure story illustrator.

 In 1950, Hulton Press, the publishers of Picture Post, entered the comics' market with their boy's adventure title, The Eagle. Photo-gravure printing (which had first been introduced in Mickey Mouse Weekly in 1936) gave it a glossy, up-market look. Despite its then high cover price of 3d, it thrived, and Hulton produced various companion papers, Girl (1951), Robin (for younger children, 1953) and Swift (1954).

 After 1960, although the top humour titles continued to do well, the market changed, with American-format superhero comics and TV spin-offs increasing in popularity at the expense of more traditional adventure comics.

 For children, comics provided a regular dose of laughter, colour and excitement, and were a valuable unit of playground barter. To adults, they represent one of the quickest, and most affordable, ways of rediscovering the innocent joys of childhood.

 COMICBOOK COLLECTOR'S NOTES

 The major appeal in collecting British comics is unashamed nostalgia. Most people collect comics fondly remembered from their own childhood, though a few specialize in representative collections of titles, first editions, or their favourite artists.

 You'll be very unlikely to find old comics in mint condition. Apart from the rough handling most of them have received from grubby fingers, they were printed on low grade paper which yellows, becomes brittle and cracks unless stored very carefully. Condition, though, isn't always of prime importance: some collectors are content to build up runs of favourite comics in any condition purely for reading purposes.

 Remember, though, that missing pages make a comic almost valueless, no matter what the condition of what remains. Before buying, check for other problems that affect price; see that no coupons or anything else have been cut out, and that there are no badly torn, stained or scribbled-on pages. Smell the comic for signs of damp, and make sure there are no brown or brittle edges. If the comic is staple-bound, check that the staples have not pulled away or stained the paper with rust.

 Start your collection by checking your attics, though comics put away in a box or tied in bundles will almost inevitably be in fairly poor condition. Committed collectors should keep an eye on advertisements in the various fan publications, and may find what they are looking for at comics fairs, marts or conventions.

 Otherwise, your best bet is a comics dealer. Generally speaking, British comics are less collectable than American ones, and many dealers don't stock both kinds. Although you may find better prices by shopping around, it pays to build up a close relationship with one dealer. Most will try to fill a wants list for a good customer, and may buy in anything they think you'd like.

 PLASTIC PROTECTION

 Dealers usually display and sell their comics individually wrapped in polythene bags. When browsing in a shop, remember that comics are fragile, and handle them with care. Don't take any comic out of its bag without checking with staff first.

 The best way to keep comics in the condition in which you bought them is to keep them bagged in plastic - though avoid bags with a completely airtight seal, as this will sometimes encourage chemical reactions that destroy the paper. Keep your comics in a dark cool place away from any extremes of damp or dryness; dryness and direct sunlight make the paper brown and brittle, while damp foxes it.

 


 

60 Years of the Dandy & the Beano
by D C Thomson & Co Hardcover

The Dandy Annual 2003
by D C Thomson & Co - Hardcover

The Bash Street Keds Annual 2003
by D C Thomson & Co - Hardcover

The Bunty Annual 2003
by D C Thomson & Co - Hardcover

The People's Friend Annual 2003
by D C Thomson & Co - Hardcover

The Beezer Annual 2003
by D C Thomson & Co - Hardcover

The Twinkle Annual
by D C Thomson & Co - Paperback