A panel from a "Laurel and Hardy" story for Film Fun published in 1938

Laurel and Hardy, the stars of British comic Film Fun for almost 30 years

A panel from a
A panel from a “Laurel and Hardy” story for Film Fun published in 1938

Laurel and Hardy may be enjoying renewed success at the box office thanks to the new film Stan & Ollie starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, but they were box office stars in comics here in the UK too, thanks to their long-running success in the pages of the weekly comic Film Fun.

first featured in a double-page centre spread of Film Fun in November 1930. Four years later they were cover stars – and remained so for 20 years, appearing in both the comic and the Film Fun annuals until 1959.

The artist best known for drawing them was George William Wakefield (1887 – 1942), although like other artists he also drew many other strips, including “George Formby”, “Max Miller” and “Abbott & Costello”, right up until his death in 1942.

Film Fun cover dated 9th November 1946-1

Film Fun cover dated 9th November 1946 - with thank to Lew Stringer
Film Fun cover dated 9th November 1946 – with thank to Lew Stringer

George was succeeded on the strip by his son, Terry Wakefield  (1911 – 1989), in 1946, who drew the boys until 1957, retiring after 32 years to work as a driver for the West Middlesex Hospital.

Many of the strips were are credited to long-time Film Fun editor Frederick George Cordwell,  better known to Film Fun readers as Eddie the Happy Editor, who edited the comic until his death in 1949. He made the occasional cameo in the comic itself down the years, meeting Laurel and Hardy a number of times, as well as film stars Joe E Brown, Wheeler and Woolsey and others.

Film Fun cover dated 8th July 1950

Film Fun cover dated 26th December 1953

Film Fun cover dated 21st September 1957In addition to their appearances in Britain’s Film Fun, there have been plenty of American Laurel and Hardy comics, of course – and they even made a cameo appearance in Marvel’s Thor: The Truth of History in 2008, written and illustrated by Alan Davis. They play the part of two Egyptologists with differing theories regarding the Sphinx!

Down the years, Film Fun absorbed several titles in its long life, including Picture Fun soon after its launch in 1920, followed by Kinema Comic in 1932, Film Picture Stories in 1935, Illustrated Chips in 1953 and Top Spot in 1960, but when its sales dropped below 125,000 a week it was merged with Buster, in 1962.

Further Reading

The Wonderful World Of Film Fun by Graham King and Ron SaxbyLaurel and Hardy – The Official Web Site

• The Wonderful World Of Film Fun by Graham King and Ron Saxby

Great book about the comic

The Laurel and Hardy Magazine – Collecting Film Fun Memorabilia by Rob Lewis

The Laurel and Hardy Magazine is a non-profit making publication printed quarterly by the HELPMATES UK TENT of The Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy Appreciation (Fan Club) Society

Lambiek: George William Wakefield

Lambiek: Terence “Terry” Wakefield

A look back at an issue of Film Fun in November 1946, courtesy Lew Stringer – Lew also celebrated the 90th anniversary of Film Fun here back in 2010

Sheffield-based shop Vintage Magazines has a number of issues of Film Fun for sale

• For a more general introduction to British comics comedy stars (and more), this German exhibition, in English – Wonderfully Vulgar – is a great starting point

With thanks to Lew Stringer for some of the images above

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

2 thoughts on “Laurel and Hardy, the stars of British comic Film Fun for almost 30 years

  1. “In addition to their appearances in Britain’s Film Fun there have been plenty of US L&H comics, of course…”

    And in other British comics, too. I remember reading a Laurel & Hardy strip in TV Comic in the early 1970s, based on the 1966 Hanna Barbera animated cartoons.

    Thanks for the article: George and/or Wakefield art is always welcome!

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