British Comics and Their History


Increasing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s in England a single of my favourite issues was purchasing and reading comics. My favourite comic’s were Valiant, Victor, Shiver and Shake which were ones with War Stories, Horror stories or Science fiction stories.

In the 19th century, story papers (containing illustrated text stories), identified as “Penny Dreadfuls”due to their cover cost, served as entertainment for British children. Full of close-printed text with couple of illustrations, they were essentially no various to a book, except that they have been somewhat shorter and that typically the story was serialised over numerous weekly problems in order to sustain sales.

These serial stories could run to hundreds of instalments if they were popular. And to pad out a successful series, writers would insert really extraneous material such as the geography of the nation in which the action was occurring, just so that the story would extend into a lot more issues. Plagiarism was rife, with magazines pirating competitors’ successes below a few cosmetic name adjustments.

Apart from action and historical stories, there was also a style for horror and the supernatural, with epics like Varney The Vampire running for years. Horror, in particular, gave rise to the epithet penny dreadful. Stories featuring criminals such as ‘Spring-Heeled Jack’, pirates, highwaymen (specially Dick Turpin), and detectives (such as Sexton Blake) dominated decades of the Victorian and early 20th-century weeklies.

Comic strips – stories told mostly in strip cartoon kind, rather than as a written narrative with illustrations – emerged only gradually. Ally Sloper’s Half Vacation (1884) is reputed to be the very first comic strip magazine to function a recurring character, and the 1st British comic that would be recognised as such right now. This strip price one penny and was developed for adults. Ally, the recurring character, was a functioning class fellow who got up to a variety of forms of mischief and typically suffered for it.

In 1890 two much more comic magazines debuted ahead of the British public, Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips, both published by Amalgamated Press. These magazines notoriously reprinted British and American material, previously published in newspapers and magazines, without having permission. The success of these comics was such that Amalgamated’s owner, Alfred Harmsworth, was able to launch The Every day Mail and The Day-to-day Mirror newspapers on the profits.

More than the next thirty years or so, comic publishers saw the juvenile marketplace as the most profitable, and hence geared their publications accordingly, so that by 1914 most comics have been aimed at eight to twelve year olds.

The period amongst the two wars is notable mainly for the publication of annuals by Amalgamated Press, and also the emergence of DC Thomson launching each the Beano and the Dandy in the late 1930s, as previously noted.

For the duration of the Second Planet War the Beano and Dandy thrived, due to the wartime paper shortage which forced a lot of rival comics to close. It is these two titles, much more than any other, that have come to define a comic in the British public’s thoughts. Their profitable mix of irreverence and slapstick led to a lot of similar titles, notably Topper and Beezer. Nonetheless the originators of this format have outlasted all rivals, and are nevertheless published these days.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the most popular comic magazine for older age-group boys was the Eagle published by Hulton Press. The Eagle was published in a a lot more high-priced format, and was a gravure-printed weekly. This format was one particular used initially by Mickey Mouse Weekly in the course of the 1930s. The Eagle’s accomplishment saw a number of comics launched in a similar format, Television Century 21, Appear and Understand and Television Comic being notable examples. Comics published in this format have been known in the trade as “slicks”. At the end of the 1960s these comics moved away from gravure Printing, preferring offset litho due to price considerations arising from decreasing readership.

By 1970 the British comics marketplace was in a extended term decline, as comics lost popularity in the face of the rise of other well-known pastimes for children. Initially the challenge was the increasing reputation of tv, a trend which the introduction of colour television to Britain in the course of 1969 set in stone. In an work to counter the trend, numerous publishers switched the focus of their comics towards television-related characters. The television shows of Gerry Anderson had begun this in 1966 with the launch of tie-in comics such as TV21 and Lady Penelope that incorporated only strips related to Anderson’s Tv shows. Polystyle Publications currently published a Television-associated comic for young kids referred to as Television Comic, and in 1971 moved into the older market place with Countdown (later retitled Television Action).

The teenage market saw Appear-In magazine feature strips solely based on common television programmes. An additional strand of the reaction to tv was the launch of comics focused completely on football (soccer becoming as common as tv amongst boys), with titles such as Shoot and Scorcher and Score. Those comics which did not address the issue of television began to close, merging with the few survivors.

Even so, the boys adventure comic was still common, and titles such as Valiant and Tiger

Published by IPC saw new adventure heroes grow to be stars, including Roy of the Rovers who would eventually obtain his own title. Oldham Press was a organization which mostly printed new material that was adventure oriented.

In the 1970s extremely couple of boys’ comics in the “slick” format were launched, though Countdown was one exception, launching in 1971 with content related to Tv 21 (which had closed by then) and Television Comic. Vulcan, a reprint title, was one more, in 1976. Girls’ titles which had launched in the “slick” format in the 1960s continued in that format into the 1970s and others, such as Diana and Judy, changed to become slicks. They found themselves in the exact same market place as teenage titles for girls such as Boyfriend and Blue Jeans, which had changed their content material and have been featuring primarily product-connected articles and photo-strips.

Viz began life in 1979 as a fanzine style publication, ahead of, in 1989, becoming the greatest promoting magazine in the nation. Primarily based upon negative taste, crude language, crude sexual innuendo, and the parodying of strips from the dandy (among them Black bag – the Faithful Border Bin Liner, a parody of The Dandy’s Black Bob series about a Border Collie), the reputation of Viz depended totally upon a variant of Sixties counter-culture it is still a single of the United Kingdom’s leading promoting magazines.

The Star Wars magazine lasted into the late 1980s, even though it changed its name in line with every single movie release. In 1982 The Eagle was relaunched, this time like photo-strips, but nonetheless with Dan Dare as the lead story. The comic moved him from the front page to the centre pages to let a much more magazine-style cover.

In the 21st Century there have also been changes in the comics market place with a growth in home-grown Graphic Novels and Manga.

There have been hundreds of comics in the UK, including the following A to Z:

2000 AD (1977–current)

Action (1976–1977)

Adventure (1921–1961)

Air Ace Image Library (1960–1970)

Andy Capp (1957–current)

Battle Image Weekly (1975–1988)

The Beano (1938–current)

BeanoMAX (2007–current)


The Beezer (1956–1993)


The Large One particular (1964–1965)

Birthrite (1989–1990)

The Boy’s Personal Paper (1879–1967)

Boys’ Planet (1963–1964)

Bullet (1976–1978)

Bunty (1958–2001)

Buster (1960–2000)

Buster Classics (1996)

Buzz (1973–1975)

BVC (1995)

The Champion

The Chatterbox

Cheeky (1977–1980)

Classics from the Comics (1996–current)

Cometman (1951–1956)

Comic Cuts (1890–1953)

Commando Comics (1961–current)

Cor!! (1970–1974)

Countdown (1971–1972)

Cracker (1975–1976)

Crisis (1988–1991)

The Dandy (1937–current)

Deadline magazine (1988–1995)

The DFC (2008–2009)

Dice Man (1986)

The Eagle (1950–1969) and (1982–1994)

Wonderful (1967–1968)

Film Fun (1920–1962)

Funny (1989-early 1990s)

Enjoyable Size Beano (1997–current)

Exciting Size Dandy (1997–current)

The Gem (1907–1939)

Girl (1951–1964) and (1981–1990)

Giggle (1967–1968)

Heven &amp Hell (1990)

Hoot (1985–1986)

Hornet (1963–1976)

Hotspur (1933–1981)

Illustrated Chips (1890–1953)

Jackpot (1979–1982)

Jack and Jill (1885–1887) and (1954–1985)

Jackie (1964–1993)

Jet (1971)

Jinty (1974–1981)

The Judge Dredd Megazine (1990–current)


Knockout (1939–1963) and (1971–1973)

Krazy (1976–1978)

Linzy &amp Charcol (2006)

Lion (1952–1974)

Look and Discover (1962–1982)

The Magic Comic (1939–1941)

The Magnet (1908–1940)

Mandy (1967–1991)

Mickey Mouse Weekly (1936–1955)

Mirabelle (1956–1977)

Misty (1978–1980)

Monster Entertaining (1975–1976)

Evening Warrior (2005–current)

Nikki (1985–1988)

Nipper (1987)

Nutty (1980–1985)

Oink! (1986–1988)

Image Politics (1894–1914)

Picture Fun (1909–1920)

Pippin (1966–1986)

Plug (1977–1979)

Poot! (2009–current, 1980s–1990s)

Pow! (1967–1968)

Prehistoric Peeps (1890s)

Puck (1904–1940)

Radio Enjoyable (1938–1961)

Rainbow (1914–1956)

Revolver (1990–1991)

Robin (1953–1969)

Romeo (1957–1974)

Roy of the Rovers (1976–1993)

Sandie (1972–1973)

School Entertaining (1983–1984)

Scream! (1984)

Sgt. Mike Battle (2001–current)

Shiver and Shake (1973–1974)

Smash! (1966–1971)

Smut (1989–current)

Sonic the Comic (1993–2002)

Sparky (1965–1977)

Speed (1980 when merged into Tiger)

Spellbound (1976–1978)

Spookhouse (1990)

Starlord (1978)

Star Wars (Weekly) (1978–1986)

The Swift (1954–1963)


Tank Girl

Terrific (1967–1968)

Thunder (1970–1971) and (to 1974 with Lion)

Tiger (1954–1985 when merged into The Eagle)

Tiger Tim’s Weekly (1920–1940)

Tina (1967)

The Topper (1953–1990) and (to 1993 with Beezer)

Tornado (1978–1979)

Toxic! (1991)

Trixton (2005–2007)

Tube Productions (2005–Present)

Tv Action (1972–1973)

Television Century 21 (1965–1971)

Television Comic (1951–1984)

Twinkle (1968–1999)

Valentine (1957–1974)

Valiant (1962–1976)

Victor (1961–1992)

Viz (1979–current)

Vulcan (1975 to 1976)

War Image Library (1958–1984)

Warlord (1974–1986)

Wham! (1964–1968)

Whizzer and Chips (1969–1990)

Whoopee! (1974–1985)

Wonder (1942–1953)

Wow! (1982–1983)

Zit (1991–2002)

Please pay a visit to my Funny Animal Art Prints Collection @

My other website is named Directory of British Icons:

The Chinese call Britain ‘The Island of Hero’s’ which I believe sums up what we British are all about. We British are inquisitive and competitive and are always searching more than the horizon to the next adventure and discovery.

Copyright © 2010 – 2011 Paul Hussey. All Rights Reserved.

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