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
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.