A campaign to gain pioneering Victorian comic paper publisher James Henderson a prestigious Blue Plaque is gathering pace.
As may downthetubes readers will know, James Henderson (26 November 1823 – 24 February 1906) published a wide range of periodicals and which included comic papers (among them, Scraps, Snap-Shots, Lot-o’-Fun, and The Big Comic, Sparks).
He started the South London Press in 1865, the first penny daily newspaper in the UK, the first halfpenny illustrated magazine, the largest circulation provincial newspaper, as well as Funny Folks, a title comic archivist and cartoonist Lew Stringer has described as “the first publication to set the standard that British comics would follow for decades.”
Mark Bryant, a British historian of cartoons, who’s been honorary secretary and vice president of the British Cartoonists’ Association and honorary secretary of the London Press Club, is campaigning hard to get the him a Blue Plaque, in a project run by the Southwark News.
Mark has written a number of books on the history of cartoons, such as The World’s greatest war cartoonists and caricaturists and World War II in cartoons, and has edited more than 30 short story and cartoon collections.
“After considerable effort, I have managed to get Henderson registered as a contender for the Southwark Heritage Blue Plaques scheme and I am pleased to report that he has made it to the shortlist,” says Mark. “Do please cast your vote.”
Henderson is included in a list of eight nominees, pitted against the likes of songwriters Stock Aitken & Waterman and Status Quo’s lead singer, Francis Rossi, so it’s not going to be an easy battle!
“Henderson fully deserves the recognition of a Blue Plaque,” fellow comics historian Alan Clark tells downthetubes, whose many Half-Holiday Publications have documented the early history of British comics in detail. “But in order to ensure it happens, people must vote. If your readers can be encouraged to do so it will increase Henderson’s chances substantially.”
Another early British comic and theatre star, Dan Leno, has his own Blue Plaque – so, never say never!
• To vote for any of the nominees for a Southwark Blue Plaque, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the person you want to nominate. Voting closes on Thursday 1st June 2024
With thanks to Alan Clark
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.