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'The History of British Comics'

It is generally agreed that Funny Folks (1874 - 1894) became the first publication to meet the accepted definition of a comic. Funny Folks began as a supplement to the Weekly Budget. Its popularity led to it being published as a separate weekly paper. The success of Funny Folks encouraged the publication of other weekly comics. One such comic was the famous Victorian comic, Ally Sloperís Half Holiday (1884 - 1916). Ally Sloperís Half Holiday was the inspiration of the engraver and publisher, Gilbert Dalziel. Ally Sloper had a characteristic red nose, battered top hat and he was usually drunk. Ally Sloper is notably the first ever comic strip hero and undoubtedly laid the foundations for the likes of Chubblock Homes -(Comic Cuts), Weary Willie and Tired Tim - (Illustrated Chips), Roy of the Rovers - (Tiger), Desperate Dan - (The Dandy), Dan Dare - (The Eagle) and more recently Judge Dredd - (2000AD). These are but a few names from the canon of British Comic heroes

The late 1890ís saw an explosion in comic publishing. Alfred Harmsworthís Comic Cuts (1890 - 1953) cost just half a penny, which was half the cost of its contemporaries. Comic Cuts soon had competition from rival publishers with titles such as Funny Cuts (1890 - 1920). Harmsworths response was to bring out further titles of his own including Illustrated Chips. Although these publications were classed as comics, they were primarily aimed at and published for an adult audience. Comics for young children (Nursery Comics) didnít start being published until the early years of the twentieth century. Rainbow (1914 - 1956) is generally accepted as the first childrenís comic although Puck (1904 - 1940) did have a junior section after issue eleven and gradually became a childrenís comic.

Puck was the first comic to print a s substantial number of its pages in colour but it wasnít until Mickey Mouse Weekly (1936 - 1955) that a comic was published completely in full colour photogravure. Photogravure is a picture produced from a photographic negative and transferred to a metal plate where it is etched on.

The 1930ís are known as the Golden age of comics. The Golden age saw the appearance of comics like Tiny Tots (1927 - 1959), Crackers (1929 - 1941), The Dandy (1937 - Present) and The Beano (1938 - Present). Both the Beano and the Dandy appeared just prior to the outbreak of the 2nd World War and their timing can be considered fortunate because paper shortages led to laws prohibiting the launching of new comics during the war years. The Beano and Dandy became a vanguard of a new era with the introduction of a new size and style of comic artistry, which included the introduction of speech bubbles in some of the stories.

Ally Sloper

The success of the two DC Thomson titles (Beano and Dandy) led Thomsonís rivals, The Amalgamated Press, to launch two of their own rival comics namely Radio Fun (1938 - 1961) and Knockout (1939 -1963). Although The Beano and Dandy are still continuing to be published, Radio Fun and Knockout ended their days in the early 1960ís. In July 1939 DC Thomson had launched a comic called The Magic Comic (1939 - 1941) but it was short lived due to the over saturation of the comics market at that time. The Dandy continues to be the oldest British comic still in publication.

The 1950ís is known as the Silver Age and it saw the appearance of a more sophisticated type of comic epitomised by the Eagle (1950 - 1969) with its hero Dan Dare. The silver age comics were post war publications and gone were the paper shortages of the war years, these comics were printed on a better quality paper with full photogravure.

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