Were British comics created solely for children?

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paw broon
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Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by paw broon »

abacus made a very interesting comment on the "comics on dvd" section:-
"I regard reading old U.K. comic strips now as an adult as a nostalgia thing rather than compelling reading.
Here is a quote from OVER 50 YEARS OF AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS by Ron Goulart
'World War 11 made comic book readers of GI's and inspired a dramatic change in comic book content'
and again there is also mention of similar comic interest during the vietnam war as a reminder of home.
See the difference?U.S comics can still be as entertaining to adults as well as children where as U.K.comics were solely aimed at children."


In reply to that I wrote:-
"Girls did appear in comics we consider designed for boys. One of the best examples is Katie from Billy the Cat. TNT Tom had Tina as a super powered companion. No point in mentioning the female characters in humour titles, you all know them. And as for sex appeal, look no further than Val Venture, Ace Hart's superheroine partner in Super Thriller. Have a look:-
http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/v/valvent.htm
Mind you, when Miller ran out of Cap. Marvel stories and came up with Marvelman, they got rid of Mary Marvel and shoehorned in a lad, Kid Marvelman.
Even more openly sexy were the companions of Roy Carson and Swift Morgan, whose comics were not designed for children. Silk and Silver, respectively, were drawn as very glamourous in tight dresses and costumes. :shock:
Super Detective Library ran the adventures of Lesley Shane, a glamourous detective and Buck Ryan had a sidekick/secretary, Zelda, if memory serves, who shared in his adventures. Both these were reprints of newspaper strips and I don't think they were designed for kids.
No, I don't think British comics were aimed solely at children, although it's obvious that Beano, Dandy etc. were considered as such and that's despite Clapton reading the Beano on the album cover. But comics were consumed in great numbers by young men and adults. It's just that a lot of society felt comics were beneath them. Certainly, the British comics made to look like American comics were read by more than children and pocket libraries featured ads for the armed forces, suggesting, I believe, that the military thought young adults/teenagers, to use a later terminology, were reading them.
Thanks abacus, you made me think, always a strain :D"


As no-one replied to this, and it was a bit :offtopic1: I started this topic in the hope that others might want to air their views. Fingers crossed.

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philcom55
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by philcom55 »

Don't forget that various publishers including AP/Fleetway produced a number of successful, long-running picture libraries that were aimed specifically at adult women.
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colcool007
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by colcool007 »

I must admit that I have always been a comics fan and while I know that certain comics were aimed at certain age groups, it did not mean that those comics were exclusively aimed at that group.

If we look at the girls' comics of the 1970s, much of the art was so beautiful that there had to be a bit of a Dad factor in there to allow the Dads to enjoy the bevy of beauties within without feeling too emasculated about reading a girl's comic.

In fact, due to a throwaway conversation with my brother, I recently found out that we got the text papers right up to the final issue as that had been Dad's comic! So my father was reading Rover right up to the end in 1973. Mind you, after that, it was not surprising for him to take our comic, read it and then comment who would waste their time on that rubbish. And we would have the same one-sided conversation week after week after week!

However, if we take a jump back to Ally Sloper in 1884, we can see that was aimed at adults. And it seems to be the Boys' Own style of comics that created this idea that comics were only meant for children.

I know my thoughts are a bit random, but hopefully, it gives you all something to work with.
I started to say something sensible but my parents took over my brain!

comixminx
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by comixminx »

There are certainly some letters in the pages of Jinty and suchlike which either refer to parents reading the comic, or even are from a parent who admitted to reading it. But that is not the same as it being targeted at them of course. At the same time, Steve MacManus talks in his book about needing to be very careful not to put off the grownups, who were normally the ones stumping up the cash for the weekly comic, so considerations about how acceptability to the grown up 'gatekeeper' was pretty important. Again not the same as actually thinking of an adult reader as part of the target market, but edging into it, perhaps.
jintycomic.wordpress.com/ Excellent and weird stories from the past - with amazing art to boot.

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philcom55
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by philcom55 »

My Uncle Cyril read comics all his life and used to take them into work to read during his dinner break. He liked American comic books most (or the Alan Class reprints) and was largely responsible for getting me interested in them!

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abacus
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by abacus »

As always Paw makes interesting comments .I didn't answer the first post he made because each has their own opinion on the matter.
I would make the point that since U.S comics began with newspaper reprints they were aimed at a more encompassing audience.
I think this is evident even in the humour strip NANCY which appeared in the TOPPER or BEEZER not sure which at the moment.
According to OVER 50 YEARS OF U.S. COMICS there was a period of definite sexing up of female portrayal the forerunner being FICTION HOUSE that features a scantily clad female on most of it's covers.
Here are some examples from the book.
Image
Women then went on to be portrayed in the successful romance comics which were inspired by readers letters to womens magazines
Of course information from one book doesn't mean it's correct that is something you have to figure out for yourselves.




For those interested Daleks have appeared at.
http://allthingsger.blogspot.co.uk/

Wow! Just realised this is my 500th post , I doff my cap to the intermitent clapping of that one dogged reader that struggled to stay the course :D

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stevezodiac
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by stevezodiac »

World War eleven?

(see line 4 of first post)

I should think WW3 would end it all.

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abacus
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by abacus »

stevezodiac wrote:World War eleven?

(see line 4 of first post)

I should think WW3 would end it all.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier. Wikipedia
This pasted from the internet did you want 1+1? I agree even if you believe in reincarnation W.W eleven is unlikely :)

As a roman numeral it should have been represented with a capital ii II rather than 11(well spotted I automatically pressed one) thanks for getting me thinking :)

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abacus
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by abacus »

As one of the dinosaurs ,during my childhood there were lots of comic reading material about both U.K. and U.S.none that I can recall being of inappropriate reading for a youngster.I enjoyed comics like Film Fun ,Radio fun where I could image the famous star characters voices when reading the speech bubbles. The first Eagle comics bought a realism to some comic strips not seen before and I remember one Eagle comic that dropped through the letterbox having a mock newspaper cover similar to my parents newspapers.
Today I would prefer new superheroes created rather than messing around and updating the old characters.Here is one reason , a watchdog committee spotted 64 acts of violence in Wonder Woman june 1989 issue, including "decapitation, trampling by horses , machine gun fire,bombs,killing with crossbows with wonder woman killing the cheetah woman at the end"
looking around the ForbIdden planet shop lots of comics but how many suitable for the early teens group many comics with a mature label or are cartoon types.
Being a dinosaur at least I saw the best age for comics.

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paw broon
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by paw broon »

Despite all the talk of Armageddon, I have to agree with abacus and his extract from OVER 50 YEARS OF U.S. COMICS, and would just add that Nedor/Better/Standard - and other companies - had seriously adult covers and scantily clad females, often in peril, on their covers. In fact that Exciting Comics in the illo. is a Nedor comic (Black Terror story inside) :D
Philcom makes a good point about comics produced for an adult female audience and True Life and many of the romance pocket libraries had long runs. I'd forgotten True Life. I also wonder if Pearsons TV Picture Stories, with versions of Emergency Ward 10, Dixon of Dock Green, Murder Bag, Highway Patrol etc. were designed with younger readers in mind, rather than aimed at an older audience, which seems more likely.
But I'm intrigued by abacus saying that, as American comics began as newspaper strips, they were aimed at a more encompassing audience. I hadn't thought of it like that. I'm probably missing something but I'm struggling to find British comics of the '30's and '40's which looked more adult, or had titillating covers. That didn't stop publishers a bit later issuing comics such as:-
Image
Image
Image
Image
and here's a page from an early Ace Hart adventure - yes superheroes are for kids! Really?
Image
and as I said, the stories in Super Detective Library were certainly for slightly older readers and adults, quite a few being adaptations of popular thriller novels.

I suppose as we had storypapers aimed at either boys or girls, we can't really compare with American comics but there seems no doubt that when we get to the '50's, perhaps late '40's, there were a lot of comics designed with an older reader in mind and designed for males and females separately.

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abacus
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by abacus »

Some fine examples of adult/children reads Paw similar to U.S. publications.I still think in general most U.K. comics were created for children (we're talking 30's -50's timeline as your examples show).I think dad reading comics is perceived as slightly eccentric here in the U.K.
Once in a charity shop where two middle aged women were serving I picked up some pocket Archie comics and one of the women trying to make sure I bought suitable material asked me how old the child was that I was buying them for ,fortunately before I could answer the other woman butted in
.It as been mentioned that in animated disney films for instance there are sometimes jokes that the adults will find funny but the children will miss and this could apply to newspaper comic strips as against ordinary children's comic strips.That is why I think many U.S comics appeal both to adults and children because they were created on the lines of newspaper strips.

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paw broon
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by paw broon »

I forgot to thank you for the Gel Apeldoorn link. So, thank you. I had a link to his blog but lost it when my pc died. Good to have access again. There is a lot of excellent material and info on his blog.

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philcom55
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by philcom55 »

Personally I think British publishers were always more adept at packaging comics for distinct demographics, whereas the vast majority of American comic books tended to aimed at a primary readership of boys. For example we had thriving ranges of nursery titles, humour comics like Beano and Dandy for younger children of both genders, an equal number of titles produced for slightly older boys and girls as separate groups, and comic magazines such as Top Spot and Jackie for the more mature teenagers. Also, I'm pretty sure that most picture libraries were produced with an adult readership in mind during the 1950s - especially those that reprinted newspaper strips such as Buck Ryan and Rip Kirby (my Gran loved the latter!).

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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by starscape »

A slightly different tack here...growing up in the Seventies, I always found the Wizard/Victor etc. DCT comics quite boring (as someone once said, the DC stands for Dull Comics). They didn't have the vibrancy, immediacy and action of Fleetway's output. Most of the central characters were mature men and rule-followers. We spoke about Charley's War at school, not the Hammer Man.

Now, reading them back, I appreciate that lack of action much more. Depends on if you were brought up on Stewart Grainger or Clint Eastwood* perhaps. As a boy, the stiff upper lip war films were of little interest to me. Tora! Tora! Tora! was more my thing. Now, I can see the value of a Sunday afternoon on the Cruel Sea.

*I know he started earlier than the Seventies - I'm talking about the prevailing culture

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paw broon
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Re: Were British comics created solely for children?

Post by paw broon »

As far as I can remember, my dad didn't read comics - at all. My mother really looked down her nose at them. Despite that I was allowed a couple of comics a week, and on holiday, I occasionally was bought - pester power - or was allowed to by with the tiny amount of pocket money I had, something like The Phantom. How exotic at the time.
Phil mentions pocket libraries and he's right, I'm sure. As a big, big, fan of Rip Kirby and Buck Ryan, I don't think many would disagree with us that they were reprinted with an older audience in mind. Same can be said for Lesley Shane.
starscape writes about DCT/Fleetway and I have to say that a lot of that passed me by. By the '70's I was completely focused on American comics. I read The Victor every week from the start for a few years but gave up on it. My granny bought it for me and perhaps that stopped. Oddly, I don't remember a lot about The Victor back then. You see, a lot of the weeklies didn't appeal nearly as much to me as Super Thriller with Ace Hart, or Marvelman and YM and MM Family, or The Phantom when I could find it. Then there were pocket libraries and having sampled the odd issue, how could I go back to the weeklies when with SDL and TPL, there'd be a Rick Random adventure or The Three Musketeers or Robin Hood? It's only in recent(ish) years that I've come to appreciate some of the delights in the weeklies.

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