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Film Fun Facts 
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Guru

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As this week sees the 90th anniversary of the publication of the first issue of that grand old comic Film Fun I thought I'd celebrate the fact with a few details about the paper.
1) First issue published with cover date 17th Jan 1920.
2) Last issue published with cover date 8th Sept 1962. At this point it merged with Buster and continued to appear as part of this combined title until issue dated 29th Jun 1963.
3) Free gift in issue No1 was a photo (plate) of Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle. It would be the first of 88 free gift issues published throughout the titles 42 year run.
4) Film Fun spawned 24 Film Fun annuals published between 1938 and 1961.
5) During its life Film Fun absorbed five other papers -
Picture Fun in 1920 ( although it may sound like it this title had nothing to do with the movies)
Kinema Comic in 1932 (Film Fun's slightly archaic sounding stablemate that had also been launched in 1920 to further cash in on the mania for movies).
Film Picture Stories in 1935 ( A cinema title too far which nonetheless, thanks to its early issues being entirely devoted to adventure strips based on movie themes, is still cited as the first all picture strip comic title).
Chips in 1953 ( This amalgamation was nothing more than a way to get readers of the 63 year old title to switch to Film Fun as nothing from the old 'pink penn'orth' survived the merger).
Top Spot in 1960 ( Comic cum lads' mag that on merger did Film Fun few favours)
6) The format of Film Fun altered little in the first 37 b/w years of its life. Only with issue No 1954 in Jun 1957 did it add a coloured border to its front and back cover
and then subsequently add a secondary colour (orange) to its cover strips with issue No 2009 (19/7/58).
7) The final issue of Film Fun to be numbered was No 2052 (16/5/59).
8) There is a legend that perpetutates that Film Fun ran for a total of 2225 issues. This is not the case. Denis Gifford, who I'm certain first put forward this figure, simply arrived at this total by calculating the number of weeks between Jan 1920 and Sept 1962 which does give a total of 2225. However this does not take into account those combined issues or those issues that simply failed to appear over the years. Taking these occurences into account the final figure would seem to be 2211 and not 2225.

Next time I'll get on to the Film Fun personnel, the editors, the artists and the stars themselves.


Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:24 am
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I've just recieved yesterday my first Film Fun annual 1955. It has Red Skeleton inside..I've seen the name in old cartoons..thought it was a black man the performer not a white man..as the story is in black and white does he have red hair!.also he seems to be Scottish..like to know a bit more about this perfomer..he must have had an unusual voice as a guess..

Also a character called Old Mother Riley which must be a man in drag..
Buying Film Fun you can learn about actors and actresses from the past..

Thanks Kashgar for sharing more info on Film Fun..amazed at the many free gifts given away..

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Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:45 am
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Great stuff Kashgar. Film Fun is an AP title that's just crying out for a definitive index, along with its long-term stable-mate Radio Fun (not to mention their lesser sibling TV Fun). In fact it's always struck me as rather a shame that these media-based rivals never got the chance to merge with each other before they were separately hoovered up by Buster in !961 and !962.

- Phil Rushton


Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:03 pm
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Good post Ray. I hadn't noticed it was Film Fun's 90th anniversary this week. I'll try to find time to do something on my blog about it and link to your post. I don't have a lot of issues but should have enough to cover a selection over the years.

There was an excellent book on Film Fun published about 20 years ago, as I'm sure most of you are aware. It was a very popular comic in its day. I remember my Dad saying he read it in the late 1920s.

Lew

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Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:35 pm
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How did it manage to maintain a weekly publication schedule in World War II? I thought paper rationing would've reduced it to fortnightly like most other comics.

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Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:42 pm
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Lew Stringer wrote:
There was an excellent book on Film Fun published about 20 years ago, as I'm sure most of you are aware.


This is the front cover of the book you were referring to, Lew. It has 176 pages with lots of examples of strips old and new.


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Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:34 pm
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Digifiend wrote:
How did it manage to maintain a weekly publication schedule in World War II? I thought paper rationing would've reduced it to fortnightly like most other comics.


As I understand it, Digi, publishing companies received their paper allocation in relation to their pre-war titles. By the end of 1940 The Amalgamated Press had shed far more titles than Thomsons did, but still got the paper allocation for those defunct titles. AP were thus able to maintain their surviving titles more or less intact while Thomsons, who wanted to keep the majority of their successful titles going, both comics and story papers, were forced to reduce the page count progressively from 28 to 14 and sometimes just 12, and also ended up having to produce them only every other week. I think, therefore, I'm right in saying that, like Film Fun, The Champion also got safely through the war on a weekly basis, more or less. There were times after the war, though, when issues were missed, leading to the next issue having more than one date or number on it. I even have some Thomson papers with only 10 pages. For the record, Thomsons shed Fairyland Tales, The Magic Comic and The Skipper, but AP let a fair number of heavyweight titles go early to the wall. These included Sparkler, Happy Days, Modern Boy, Sports Budget, Thriller, Jester, Magnet, and Gem, although the last named was consumed by Triumph.


Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:08 pm
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Phoenix wrote:
Digifiend wrote:
How did it manage to maintain a weekly publication schedule in World War II? I thought paper rationing would've reduced it to fortnightly like most other comics.


As I understand it, Digi, publishing companies received their paper allocation in relation to their pre-war titles. By the end of 1940 The Amalgamated Press had shed far more titles than Thomsons did, but still got the paper allocation for those defunct titles. AP were thus able to maintain their surviving titles more or less intact while Thomsons, who wanted to keep the majority of their successful titles going, both comics and story papers, were forced to reduce the page count progressively from 28 to 14 and sometimes just 12, and also ended up having to produce them only every other week. I think, therefore, I'm right in saying that, like Film Fun, The Champion also got safely through the war on a weekly basis, more or less. There were times after the war, though, when issues were missed, leading to the next issue having more than one date or number on it. I even have some Thomson papers with only 10 pages. For the record, Thomsons shed Fairyland Tales, The Magic Comic and The Skipper, but AP let a fair number of heavyweight titles go early to the wall. These included Sparkler, Happy Days, Modern Boy, Sports Budget, Thriller, Jester, Magnet, and Gem, although the last named was consumed by Triumph.
The missed issues would be in 1947. That's when DCT's papers went down to 10 pages.

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Wed Jan 13, 2010 2:38 am
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Lew Stringer wrote:
There was an excellent book on Film Fun published about 20 years ago, as I'm sure most of you are aware.

What other good books on UK comics or artists would you recommend?

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Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:42 am
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Digifiend wrote:
The missed issues would be in 1947. That's when DCT's papers went down to 10 pages.


As far as the text story papers from DCT are concerned, Digi, your points are only partially correct.

Regarding your first point, there were certainly missed issues in 1947 but they were due to a strike in March. The Rover lost 1 issue, Adventure, The Hotspur and The Wizard lost 2. The numbering was not affected, though, and the publishing schedule was otherwise not altered. In the same month The Champion from The Amalgamated Press produced one of their normal weekly 16-page issues numbered 1,310/1,311 and dated 'Weeks Ending March 8 and 15 1947', and went on to cut their page count to 12 from April to the middle of June. Although it also went back to 12 from the beginning of November at least until the end of the year (I cannot comment on 1948 as I don't have any issues), it still only lost one week's issue in the entire year. I think there were great problems across the board getting sufficient paper even after the war had finished, and Thomsons didn't manage to get back even to 16 pages on a regular basis until 1951, so it is not surprising that AP also felt the pinch.

With regard to your second point, Thomsons did reduce their page count to 10 in 1947, but only in December, so where 1946 was a 14-page year, 1947 was essentially a 14-page/12-page year. It was 1948 when 10-page issues were most frequently found. As an example, of the twenty-seven issues between the beginning of January and the end of August, when 12-page issues again became the norm, The Wizard had eighteen issues with 10 pages but only nine with 12. It must, of course, be remembered that during this period Thomsons changed from their wartime fortnightly publishing schedule to a three weeks in four pattern, the first week being November 23 1946. That week The Wizard, The Rover and The Hotspur were published. Week two saw A, W and H, week three had A, W and R, and in the final week of the four A, R and H appeared. This arrangement remained in place until the end of March 1949. The restoration of a weekly schedule for all four papers was on April 2 1949. None of the papers had been disadvantaged in any way. A brilliant juggling performance in my opinion.


Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:43 pm
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klakadak-ploobadoof wrote:
Lew Stringer wrote:
There was an excellent book on Film Fun published about 20 years ago, as I'm sure most of you are aware.

What other good books on UK comics or artists would you recommend?


Any books by Denis Gifford are worth a look, but they're all out of print now. However, an essential book on the history of UK comics, Great British Comics by Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury is still available:
[url]
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-British-C ... 962&sr=8-1[/url]

Lew

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Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:21 pm
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Phoenix wrote:
Lew Stringer wrote:
There was an excellent book on Film Fun published about 20 years ago, as I'm sure most of you are aware.


This is the front cover of the book you were referring to, Lew. It has 176 pages with lots of examples of strips old and new.


That's the one. Unfortunately I've mislaid my copy somewhere about the room. If anyone has a clue where I could look I'd be grateful. :lol:

Lew

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Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:23 pm
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I have a few dozen Film Funs and, as most of you may know, I acquired several hundred A4 pages of rough pencils by Wally Robertson of FF strips including Max Miller, Joe E Brown and George Formby to name a few. One day i'll get around to sorting them out into individual characters and single strips. I scanned some on here last year.


Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:18 pm
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Film Fun's early stars

Fame is a fickle mistress and nowhere is this more evidently displayed than in the cast list of stars who graced the pages of the first issue of Film Fun. The odd legend lingers in the memory of the devoted film buff but as for the rest....

Harold Lloyd (1893-1971)
Certainly the most lastingly famous of all the stars that graced the first issue Harold Lloyd initially went under the name 'Winkle' in the comic's pages, a reference to a role he had played in the 1919 comedy 'On the Fire'. Lloyd had early success as the moustachioed character Lonesome Luke before he settled on his bespectacled 'boy' character for his later triumphs which would include his masterpiece 'Safety Last'.

Larry Semon (1889-1928)
Pasty-faced pratfall expert who invariably wore a bowler hat and frequently overalls.
In the 1920's he was one of the wealthiest of all stars until his excess spending, often on elaborate set-pieces, saw him spiral into debt in movies which he not only starred in but produced himself. He died in a sanitorium in 1928 of complications from tuberculosis.

Mack Swain (1876-1935)
If he is remembered at all now Mack Swain is recalled as the walrus-moustached heavy in the movies of others rather than for the comedy-shorts in which he was fleetingly the star. A fine example of this being his role as the starving prospector in the boot eating scene in Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush.

Ben Turpin (1874-1940) and Charlie Conklin (1880-1959)
Of the two perpetually cross-eyed Ben Turpin is by far the better remembered if only for his striking appearence. In fact the editorial staff on Film Fun seem to have had difficulty in pinning down Charlie Conklin to being one actor as they had Ben Turpin teamed with not only Charlie Conklin and Charlie Lynn which was fine as they were one and the same person but also Chester Conklin who was different performer altogether. All three being depicted as the same character however

More to follow


Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:34 am
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Here's my blog to mark Film Fun's anniversary. Mainly a cover gallery as I don't have many issues, but I've also included a piece of original art by Albert Pease...

http://lewstringer.blogspot.com/2010/01/90th-anniversary-of-film-fun.html

Lew


Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:29 pm
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