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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Review: Photographs & Images of Artists, Writers & Editors of 19th and 20th Century British Comic Papers

If ever there was a book that “does exactly what it says on the tin”—as the famous Ronseal advertising slogan once said—this is it. Alan Clark has collected together over 100 photographs of some of the men and women who helped create vintage British comics and story papers, starting chronologically sensibly with he creators of Ally Sloper (Charles H. Ross, Marie Duval, W. G. Baxter). The rest of the book is somewhat random, but covers many of the creators who worked for Amalgamated Press and D. C. Thomson, including such notables as Tom Browne, Leo Baxendale, Ken Reid, Reg Parlett, Robert Nixon, Dudley D. Watkins, Denis McLoughlin and Derek Eyles.

Along the way he dips into the careers of editors like H. J. Garrish, G. H. Cantle, Fred Cordwell, Monty Haydon, George Moonie and R. D. Low in a series of snap shot biographies that accompany each of the photos, company founders like Alfred Harmsworth and James Henderson, and often-forgotten stalwarts of the comics like Charlie Pease, George Wakefield, Roy Wilson, Frank Minnitt and George Ramsbottom.

A random dip into the book reveals that Tiger Tim’s Weekly editor Will Fisher died in a car accident, Eileen Soper, who illustrated many books by Enid Blyton, was the daughter of Royal Academy artist George Soper, and Bert Wymer, coincidentally one of the artists of Tiger Tim, was also an amateur archaeologist, his family responsible for the discovery of the Swanscombe Skull.

It’s a fascinating little book to dip into as you’ll never know what you will stumble across next. Privately published, it can be purchased via Ebay:

Photographs & Images of Artists, Writers & Editors of 19th and 20th Century British Comic Newspapers by Alan Clark
Alan Clark, Autumn 2020, 119pp (A5), £15.00.

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