Sunday, August 01, 2021

The Fun Factory of Farringdon Street

The latest book from Alan Clark is his best and biggest yet. Clocking in at 262 pages, it covers the history of the Amalgamated Press from its inception to now. The main focus is comics, although story papers are also given plenty of coverage.

Given that it has such a broad canvas to cover — 130 years of comic publishing — and tries not to miss anything, there are some areas covered in quick brush strokes while others have more depth and detail. There is a lot here, but it is a relatively easy story to follow as it traces one company through its various iterations rather than darting off into the histories of other companies and other distractions. So, while  Fleetway Publications and I.P.C. Magazines were very different to the original Amalgamated Press, it is easy to follow the through-line of company buyouts and mergers that changed both the comics and the company that published them.

This is the first time a book has taken the Amalgamated Press as its sole subject, so while the overall history of British comics has been told and retold (most successfully in Paul Gravett's Great British Comics and David Roach's Masters of British Comic Art), writing a solo history means that Alan can bring detail to his tale that space has precluded from the two books mentioned.

As someone who likes the nuts and bolts of comic history, I'm quietly in awe of Alan for marshaling all this information together into an easy to follow story, thorough but still compact — I'm talking as someone who wrote a 262-page book about a single comic (Lion: King of Picture Story Papers), so you can imagine how long my history of British comics is going to be!

The book is richly illustrated in colour with many rare covers on show as well as photographs of some of the major players in the history retold here. If you have not already picked up a copy (and I'm aware that I'm reviewing this late — I didn't want to skip read it!), I can heartily recommend grabbing a copy.

You can buy the book on eBay, £20.00 including p&p.

The Fun Factory of Farringdon Street by Alan Clark
Alan Clark, June 2021, 262pp (A5), £20.00. Available via eBay.

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