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Monday, December 03, 2012

Junior News and Storyteller part 1

Every now and then I receive a gift of magazines. The World of Wonder galleries are all down to a partial run of that paper that someone gave me, for instance. More recently, I was given a handful of copies of another educational youth magazine, The Junior News and Storyteller.

It was published by Westworld Publishing, who also published Tarzan Adventures and various other reprint titles such as Pecos Bill and Little Sheriff Western. Junior News ran for only 21 weekly issues between 1 October 1953 and 18 February 1954. Each issue had 20 pages with a colour front and rear cover and carried two serial stories and a wide variety of news and feature material.

Although the majority of the material featured is dated and most of it written by authors nobody would recognise today, there are a few items of interest. I imagine most of you reading this will never have even heard of Junior News and Storyteller, so what I'm planning to do is to publish a whole issue over Tuesday and Wednesday so you can see that it was all about. I thought I'd take today to introduce the paper and put together a little selection of interesting items. I only have 10 of the 21 issues, a selection from issue four until the final issue. I'll run a collection of covers on Thursday.

The earliest issues had the serials 'Village Fanfare; or, The Man from the Future' by Donald Suddaby and 'Secret Valley' by Charles Carr. The latter was the pen-name of Sydney Charles Mason and was later used on a pair of science fiction novels, Colonists of Space and Salamander War. Suddaby's novel was also a science fiction tale, subsequently published by OUP in 1954. Apparently, the story had previously appeared in Cornhill magazine in December 1934 under the pen-name Griff. I won't comment on these as you'll be able to read an episode for yourself over the next couple of days.

Donald Suddaby

The magazine also included a reprint of the NEA syndicated comic strip 'Kevin the Bold' drawn by Kreigh Collins (1908-1974) and sometimes credited to Russell Robert Winterbotham, although I gather Winterbotham only wrote the strip in 1964-68. A promotional note about the strip published in August 1950 doesn't make any mention of an author, so I wonder whether Collins was also the writer on the strip when it began.

In a couple of issues I found a quarter page panel by my old pal Denis Gifford under the title 'Puzzle Quiz with Dr Dizz'. I think this only ran briefly at the end of 1953.

The main cartoonist for Junior News was Alistair Graham who was, politely, not a brilliant cartoonist. He was also the assistant editor and later editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1953-57 and may have been the assistant editor of Junior News as well.

 
 
In issue 17 (21 January 1954) a new series by Robin Hood yarns by Donald Suddaby began, a series of complete stories under the title 'Under the Greenwood Tree'. A regular feature on 'How to be a Magician' by Wando began that same issue. The Charles Carr serial had finished in issue 13, after which Michael Hervey, Herbert Harris and Colin Calvert had a number of complete stories and short (2-part) serialised stories.

Issue 18 noted that "The 'Junior News' stand at the Schoolboys' Own Exhibition proved extremely popular. Here, Stirling Moss is signing autographs for enthusiastic readers." Moss was also the subject of an interview in that same issue and a biography of the famous driver was promised to begin shortly. Articles began appearing two issues later and Moss starred on the cover of the final issue.

I found this interesting piece in issue 19 (4 February 1954), which looks at the possibilities of reaching the nearest stars as the heroes of science-fiction do every week.

The final issue carried a long note from the editor to his readers explaining that the title was folding because its circulation could not sustain the magazine; "A survey shows ... that even now after five months, only three in every hundred boys and girls at grammar schools have even heard of Junior News."


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