Comic archivist Alan Clark has been busy again, with not one but two new books recently released, Comic Papers Between the Wars now available as a two-item set.
Both books are, as ever, an absolute delight and essential resource, not only offering a potted history of various publishers of the period, but fascinating profiles of comic creators of the day, such as Fred Cordwell, Albert Lock, Reg Perrott, Phil Ray, Roy Wilson and many more, along with editors such as Jack le Grande (sometimes known as Jack le Grand), whose career at IPC continued well into the 1960s, as Managing Editor and writer.
Alan’s diligence in covering this period (and earlier eras) is legendary among comic researchers, and these two books continue that tradition, packed with rare comic covers, photographs of creators and comic staff few will have ever seen, along with insights into the period’s most popular characters, including the comic incarnations of film legends such as Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy.
“The 1920s and 1930s were an incredibly rich period for British comics,” enthuses Alan. “They were mature, self-assured, and had the best editors, artists and writers; their experience had been honed over years of occasional failures and multiple successes. They knew what worked and what didn’t. Artistic talents peaked, with some of the greatest penmen ever to put ink on paper wielding their Waverley pens in dazzling displays of whizz-bang artistry.
“Some of the artists wrote their own scripts,” he continues, “Others, equally talented, supplied them. These went through careful supervision from sub-editors and managing editors alike. Artists were then free to develop them further artistically if the editors had confidence in them, giving stories a further boost. In other words comic papers between the wars were the best of the best.”
BOOK ONE of Comic Papers Between The Wars covers the nursery comics, the early days of music hall and cinema, Harold Mansfield’s Fleetway Press, H. Louis Diamond’s ‘Bath’ comics, newspaper comic papers, George V’s Silver Jubilee and George VI’s Coronation and the birth of the adventure strip by the top creators of the day. Plus, many creator biographies.
BOOK TWO of Comic Papers Between The Wars continues with the beginning of the publishing industry’s use of the then state-of-the-art technology of photogravure to print titles such as Mickey Mouse Weekly and, later, Happy Days. It also details many British features that were reprinted in other countries.
These were followed by Lord Northcliffe’s Amalgamated Press weeklies, which reached new heights of quality and circulation, with new titles being issued at an ever-increasing rate. Together with coverage of other industry pioneers and new entrants, the most important of which was DC Thomson, all are covered here, the book also offering more artist biographies and comic histories.
Both books are A5 size, non-profit, limited editions, each with 300 pages (600 pages in total), well-illustrated with many rare titles pictured, available price £33 for the two-book set, available here from Alan’s eBay store.
Highly recommended, you may also want to check out two previous releases, still available in limited quantities, Laughs of a Nation – The Publications of Gerald Swan and another two-book set, Ally Sloper – His Life and Times and Sugar-Plums and Tootletum – The Work of C.H. Cross.
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.