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British comics in America 
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Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:37 pm
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After the replies, and reading about the 'Statement of ownership' required in American comics, I was wondering whether this could be the main reason that British comics never made it into America, or did the British feel intimidated by the already established comic market there? Did some make it there?

I was reading somewhere on a blog or forum, where a girl in the 60s, or 70s in America had a friend in England that would bundle up about three months of her girls comics and send them across to her in America, she mentioned that she could not wait to receive them as there was nothing comparable in America. So I would say there was a gap at that time for British girls comics.

Am I way off here, can anyone add to this? Were there any Girls comics in America to rival those in England I know they had their own humour types, Archies girls 'Betty and Veronica', or did Girls in the 60s and 70s miss out on the likes of Princess Tina, Bunty, Tammy etc?


Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:44 am
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For those not familiar with them, here are three examples of early 1970s American girls comics.


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Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:37 am
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One of the problems I've found with adding British comics to the Grand Comic Book Database is that, being an American project, there are entire genres that are missing from their available choices. For example there is no American equivalent of the School story, where it's one of the basic options in almost any British comic. The nearest option they have is 'Teen'. You can have 'Sport' or 'Martial Arts', but nothing that covers the Ballet based stories that were a staple of girls' comics.

Even in the Golden Age, American comics specifically aimed at girls were limited to romance or humour; sometimes both. There were a few superheroes, notably Wonder Woman, but when Marvel Comics first appeared in the 1960s, they made a deliberate choice to ignore their female readership, as soon as their cool new superhero titles weren't reliant on the cash cows of Millie the Model and Patsy Walker to finance them, that is. By the 1970s they had cancelled all their comics aimed at female readers, and in fact almost anything outside the superhero genre (they'd also been big in westerns and war comics). The only other major publisher left, DC followed their lead, and outside of Archie Comics' endlessly recycled light romantic humour titles, the medium of comics became synonymous with the adolescent male power fantasy of superheroes.

They've made a few stabs at winning back female readers lately, now that they've accepted that there are female readers. But these are often hamstrung by the urge to include something for their core audience, which also manages to alienate their intended audience. The most egregious example I've come across was a series about the X-Men's Emma Frost as a teenager. It's a great series ideal for a female readership, set initially with Emma at school, and later on the run: it would not have looked out of place in a British girls' comic. Except that they could not resist giving every issue the most cheesecakey covers, of a scantily clad adult Emma Frost, thus assuring that their target audience (who would have enjoyed the actual comic) wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, while the boys who bought it for the cover would be disappointed by the story. I'm amazed it lasted eighteen issues.

But what's really ironic is that while the American publishers were dismissing girls as not interested in comics, manga swept into America from Japan and soon started outselling the niche domestic superhero titles. Their largest audience? Teenage girls.

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Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:55 am
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Fascinating subject. Bearing in mind that British comics used to be distributed throughout the Commonwealth (including Canada) and translated all over Europe it's quite remarkable that they never made any impression on America until the 1970s with 2000AD. Surely Frank Hampson's Dan Dare would have been of interest to all the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers fans over there? I'd guess that Matrix is right that this was largely due to their arcane distribution system, along with a certain amount of protectionism - especially after Independent News (effectively owned by DC Comics) gained a near monopoly on distributing comicbooks in the US - as well as a controlling interest in Thorpe & Porter, who began importing them to the UK from 1959. Of course, before that date most American comics had been unavailable in Britain from the early 1940s onwards - first because of the 2nd World War and then because of a crippling Balance of Payments crisis.

Regarding US girls' comics, I seem to remember hearing that Stan Lee had a soft spot for Millie the Model - to the extent that he insisted on publishing her comicbook long after its sales had dropped below Marvel's other titles. Incidentally, Mari, did you know that Stan's Millie strips were also published in Britain for a time during the late 1950s, in the pages of DC Thomson's Romeo?

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Actually, there's a lot more in Mari's response I'd like to comment on, so expect to see my own views on the evolution of girls' comics on either side of the Atlantic as soon as I've had a chance to think about it.

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Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:19 pm
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Don't overlook the other field of American comics - the Sunday Funnies. There was a wide variety of strips which appealed to various demographics. I'll have to dig out some of my copies but Little Orphan Annie comes to mind as a Girl's strip but, never having read it, I may be wide of the mark. There was also the Heart of Juliet Jones. I have hundreds of pages of Flintstones and Yogi Bear half pages which I picked up in a flea market many years back. They obviously range from the cutting edge satirical strip to the nursery end - all in one funnies section. The oldest I have is from around 1903 and they are vast - bigger than the Big One.


Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:39 pm
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Red car, red dress, they practically hung a lampshade on the fact it was printed in red black and white, lol!

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Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:11 am
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I'm not sure how much of a soft spot Stan had for Millie. She did last longer than the other girl titles, and even got invited to the wedding of Sue Storm and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, but I've never been able to find any factual information about why the girls comics faded away. I do know that in the early days of Marvel, when they were severely limited in the number of titles they could produce, and several of their series had to double up (Iron Man and Sub-Mariner sharing Tales to Astonish, for example), Millie and Patsy had two titles each.

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Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:34 am
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Looking forward to your comments on the evolution of the two Phil.

One British comic strip that MAY have had an influence on an American strip, is 'Bessie Bunter'. 'Little Lotta' has a lot of similarities to 'Bessie' eg the looks, food included in a lot of the strips, plus similar story lines, although instead of Cricket she plays Ten Pin bowling. I could be wrong here and it may be just a coincidence!


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Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:04 am
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Marionette wrote:
I'm not sure how much of a soft spot Stan had for Millie. She did last longer than the other girl titles, and even got invited to the wedding of Sue Storm and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, but I've never been able to find any factual information about why the girls comics faded away. I do know that in the early days of Marvel, when they were severely limited in the number of titles they could produce, and several of their series had to double up (Iron Man and Sub-Mariner sharing Tales to Astonish, for example), Millie and Patsy had two titles each.

Millie and her cohorts actually made an unexpected return to stardom (briefly) in a four issue limited series, Models, Inc in 2009. No idea how well it sold, though.

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Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:54 am
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Love them 'sassy dames' in US comics of the period!

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Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:38 am
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Harvey comics published lots of non-superhero titles with Richie Rich; Casper;Little Dot; the aforementioned Little Lotta etc. but these were cartoony comics as opposed to British girls comics. The Marvel and DC examples just don't fit the type of story in British comics. The Funnies sections in papers is a good example of where American strips slightly resemble our girls comics, with the strips mentioned and some others being, I imagine, more attractive to younger females.
I do think that British girls comics and storypapers, or the proliferation of them, are unique and their existence and success demonstrate a peculiar failure in American comics companies in that, there was a way of selling more comics and making money and they didn't take it - or did they even consider it?
Marionette seems bang on about manga, a form which seems to cover all genres, with the possible exception of superhero, and many have a huge young female readership. I just don't like manga and can't get into them. Actually that's not quite right as I enjoyed Mai, The Psychic Girl.
Matrix asks an interesting question but I want to turn his example around as I remember a couple of pals who were sent packages of Sunday strips from Canada and they were the most popular in our group around the time of the parcels arriving. That would have been late '50's.


Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:58 pm
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On the subject of American newspaper strips it's worth remembering that Leonard Starr's 'On Stage' appeared in Princess for a time during the 1960s. As for American publications aimed at young girls, I'm surprised that the hugely popular, and long-running, Calling All Girls doesn't receive more publicity - even if it didn't exactly count as a traditional comic-book for most of its run.

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Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:25 pm
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You got me with that one. I learn new stuff every day. Here is the link to the issues hosted on Digital Comic Museum:
http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?cid=617
If anyone wants to download them, you can sign up for free
There's also a Calling All Kids section:
http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?cid=618

(Overstreet describes this as, "part magazine , part comic") I'll find out when I download a couple of samples.
Editing this to mention that there is a preview function for comics on DCM so you don't even have to download.


Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:44 pm
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paw broon wrote:
Marionette seems bang on about manga, a form which seems to cover all genres, with the possible exception of superhero
Superheroes are well covered in manga. Most of them are simply better known as animes.

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Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:17 pm
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I simply didn't know that. I've seen many manga titles, hundreds, here and in Europe and never saw something that looked like a superhero. Apart from those roboty type racer characters. Any suggestions. Forgive my ignorance but I thought anime was cartoons. Or am I a bit mixed up here? You know, it's just not exciting or fun enough for me to make me dive in. Also, the titles I've tried from the library didn't appeal much. Again, any suggestions.


Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:47 pm
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