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Home arrow Comical comics

Comical comics

The Topper
British schoolboys amuse themselves with the latest edition of The Topper, a photo which beautifully captures the boys' sheer rapt fascination, as well as the illicit thrill of reading comics.
The great age for comedy comics was c 1935-65. During this period, a flood of titles emerged from Britain and the United States, 'chock full of laughter' (in the words of one early example), and selling in numbers that were never matched before or since - in other words, millions rather than thousands.' Although the subject matter reflected formulas that had been developed previously, ranging from satire to slapstick, the audience was now predominantly children, and this naturally had an effect on how comics were perceived. Such was the cultural impact of this explosion that the definition of a comic, as given in the 1965 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, became 'a publication for children designed to excite mirth'.
In the years leading up to the First World War, British comics went through a radical reorientation. Suddenly, they were being produced with bright colours, cleaner artwork and a much more vibrant sensibility. No longer were readers expected to squint at the detailed drawings and dense print of comics like Ally Sloper's Half Holiday, now, titles were designed to be speed-read in an instant. This was a recognition that for knockabout comedy to work, it had to flow, to move; and that for a comic to interest a child, it had to be as immediate as possible.
The Dandy's 'Greedy Pigg'
The Dandy's 'Greedy Pigg' enjoys a plate of 'grub' (DC Thomson, 1977). Art: George Martin. Grub was one of the standard rewards for the protagonists of the comic, and a symbolic throwback to its origins in Scotland during the Depression.