Comic artist and writer Lew Stringer guides us through the very last issue of one of Britain’s longest-running comics, CHIPS (not to be confused with Whizzer and Chips)…
I first saw the cover to the final issue of the long-running comic CHIPS 50 years ago, in The Penguin Book of Comics and have been looking for a copy, on and off, ever since. Well, I finally won it on eBay this week! So here’s a few pages from that very last issue; CHIPS No. 2,997 dated 12th September 1953.
The original CHIPS was first published by The Amalgamated Press in July 1890 and 1953, ending its 63-year run just three issues shy of 3000 editions. Originally priced at a half-penny, Illustrated Chips (the “Illustrated”, often small not dropped until 1952) was among a number of publisher Alfred Harmsworth’s titles that challenged the dominance in popularity of the “penny dreadfuls” among British children.
The Amalgamated Press became Fleetway in the 1960s and IPC by 1969, when the title Chips was revived in name only as half of the two-in-one comic Whizzer and Chips.
Interestingly, although humour strips rarely get a proper ending, those wandering tramps “Weary Willie and Tired Tim”, who made their debut in CHIPS in May 1896, finally find a permanent home at the end of this final story after 47 years of no fixed abode. Also, there’s a poignant ending for “Homeless Hector and Moonlight Moggie” as they “fade quietly away into the shadows”; a metaphor perhaps of the old style comics of the day drawing to a close.
“Weary Willie and Tired Tim” were created by Tom Browne, one of the most popular artists of the late 19th / early 20th Century. After his untimely death at the age of 39, Percy Cocking took over the art duties in 1910 until the final issue in 1953.
Homeless Hector had begun in CHIPS in 1908, drawn by Bertie Brown. He was joined by Moonlight Moggie from Jester comic at some point, and the two became inseperable.
CHIPS is still one of the longest lasting comics in history. By 1953, times were changing and that generation of Victorian comics were falling one by one. Comic Cuts and The Funny Wonder also ended in 1953, with the latter ending the same day as CHIPS.
To soften the blow, the editorial announced that CHIPS would be replaced by TV FUN the following week, almost implying that it’s simply a name change, but they were totally different comics. TV FUN reflected changing tastes but it still looked somewhat old fashioned compared to vibrant lively rivals such as Beano and Eagle and didn’t last many years.
Curiously, what’s not mentioned in this final issue is that CHIPS was actually merging into FILM FUN and ‘Film Fun and Chips’ would appear on Film Fun‘s masthead. However, no stories from CHIPS actually carried over to Film Fun! It was just an attempt to catch the eye of readers of CHIPS I guess, by adding ‘Chips’ to the title.
The British Comics legend known as Lew Stringer has been freelancing professionally in comics as an artist and writer since 1983, inspired by a lifelong love of the medium. Over the years he has worked for titles such as BEANO, The Dandy, Oink!, VIZ, Doctor Who Magazine, Sonic the Comic, and many more. He wrote a fantastic blog about comics, Blimey! It’s Another Blog About Comics, still available to read online here, and has contributed to Comic Scene and similar titles.
He also self publishes his own creator owned Combat Colin, Derek The Troll and Brickman comics, which have a loyal cult following across the UK and beyond.
• Check out Lew’s online blog here: Lew Stringer Comics
All images images courtesy Lew Stringer, this article reproduced here with kind permission. CHIPS and Illustrated CHIPS, FILM FUN copyright Rebellion Publishing Ltd
Michael Carroll’s latest edition of his guide to the longest-running British comics, including 2000AD, BEANO and Commando Comics still published today
Lew’s blog about British comics, no longer updated, but a great resource for vintage comics fans
Tom Browne (1870 – 10th March 1910) was possibly the most important artist in British comics. He died aged just 39, yet his influence on comic strips was considerable.
At the age of 21 or thereabouts he moved to London to embark on what The Strand Magazine called “a hard struggle to obtain a foothold in London illustrated journalism”. However he managed to earn a living as a comic artist, providing cartoons and strips for various weeklies.
It was in one of those comics, Illustrated Chips No. 298, dated 16th May 1896, where his most famous creations first appeared in a front page strip called “Innocents on the River”, its protagonists two tramps named Weary Waddles and Tired Timmy, who impressed the editor G.H. Cantle so much that he asked Browne to continue them as a regular feature… Read More Here on Blimey!
Bertie Brown was a prolific British comic artist, best known as the creator of several celebrity comics based on popular stage, radio and film stars, most notably Charlie Chaplin. He was a staff artist of the magazines published by the Amalgamated Press for over fifty years. Read More Here on Lambiek