Spectrum for 11 January 2015

From Spectrum, 12:05 pm on 11 January 2015

Comics pan
All Picture Comic from 1921 and The Big Comic Book from 1914. (Courtesy British Library Board)

The Catapult Cowboy, Messenger Mick, Simple Simon Green, The Skycop, all were heroes in comic books with names like ‘Young Men of Great Britain’, ‘Beano’ and ‘Dandy’.

From the late 19 century till after World War 2, the comic book was a thing of delight for youngsters. For 70 years the plots hardly changed:- find a good detective, cowboy or captain of the school cricket first eleven and throw in a rattling good adventure yarn. And all in 4 pages, once a week.

Stiff upper lip boy adventurers carried the British flag to the ends of the earth by airship and later by aeroplane, the plots stayed the same, only the technology changed. Dark-skinned half breeds were often the villains, never the heroes. Foreign lands, deserts and mountain ranges provided the backdrop for heart-stopping deeds of daring.

In ‘When Tuppence Bought the World’, first broadcast in July 1974, Alwyn Owen lingers fondly over comic books of yesteryear and re-creates their characters and adventures.

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Chips from 1909 and Comic cuts from1890. (Courtesy British Library Board)