Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

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matrix
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Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by matrix »

I thought it might be an idea to get any thoughts on the younger reader comics that did not quite make the grade compared to some of the earlier successeful ones eg,
'Playgroup', 'See Saw', 'Read to me', 'Fun time', etc.

As has been discussed the likes off 'Playhour' and 'Jack and Jill' started to reprint a lot of material in the seventies and it seems it has been all down hill since then.
Does anyone think there is any correlation between the demise of these comics and the industry as a whole?
My personal opinion is that this is an area that has been neglected by the comics industry and as a result has helped lead to a decline in sales for comics in general.

I know that some have no interest in these comics and even some who work for the industry as mentioned know very little about them which shows the lack of attention paid to these titles, but it has gone from being a quality area to producing nothing more than glorified colouring books.
Anybody like to add to this agree, disagree?

Having said all that at the end of the seventies 'Read to me' which was a story based comic with large page illustrations produced some nice work, two examples below one by Fred Robinson, and the other with the title 'Chorlton and the Wheelies' are great pieces.
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Read 1.jpg
Read 2.jpg

Kid Robson
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by Kid Robson »

When I was a kid, I was never bought such publications, but I remember buying the first issue (as a 12 year old) of Little Star, even 'though I was well beyond the target age. When I was in my 20s, I bought the first few issues of Marvel U.K.'s Story Time (or was it Story Land?), which reprinted a lot of older material from the '50s and '60s by the look of it. I even bought the first issue of the relaunched Robin in 1985. The art in such publications was usually always of an extremely high-standard and, as you suggest, they were far more interesting than the rather bland magazines on the shelves that compete for the attention of very young children today. Parents seem to have got out of the habit of buying comics for toddlers today, and I can only suggest that perhaps it's because they're perceived as being too expensive, whether that happens to be the case or not.

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philcom55
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by philcom55 »

Like you Matrix I'm mostly interested in nursery comics from the late 1950s and early 1960s, but a while ago I did come across some interesting pieces of original art from later titles such as Funtime and Fun To Do (at just £1 each I couldn't really turn them down).

Here's a particularly nice puzzle page from Funtime no.12 which seems to be the work of Peter Woolcock. I'm guessing that the bespectacled pooch is meant to be Hector of 'Hector's House', though never having seen a copy of the publication in question I'm not sure if he was one of its regular stars.

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- Phil Rushton

Lew Stringer
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by Lew Stringer »

I started my comic reading with The Dandy when I was 4, so, apart from trying a few issues of Bimbo and TV Toyland later, I sidestepped nursery comics. I appreciate the high level of quality that went into them though. The clarity of storytelling has to be spot on for it to absorb the interest of children so young.

I've mentioned this before but I don't think anyone reacted, - does anyone else remember Blue Moon, a nursery comic produced in the 1990s? Edited by Tim Quinn, it was the last of the quality nursery comics I think. Mostly comic strip, and all in full colour, fantastic artwork by Phil Gasgoine and others. It featured characters from fairy tales (and nursery rhymes I think). Distribution wasn't too great though, and I think its frequency suffered towards the end. (Ironic, considering its title.)
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
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philcom55
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by philcom55 »

I think nursery comics mainly tended to be bought by parents who'd read them out loud to their children like a storybook (often as a bedtime story). Thereafter the tots could be kept happy for hours, following the storylines over and over again from the pictures alone while discovering new details that they'd missed the first time. This must have been a godsend to busy parents in the days when there were no videos to distract their progeny and children's TV was limited to 'Watch With Mother' at midday and a meagre hour of 'Blue Peter' and 'Animal Magic' just before teatime. Like you, Lew, the first comics I remember reading for myself were titles such as Dandy, Beano, Beezer, Topper and TV Comic (not to mention a whole bunch of American comics donated at regular intervals by a particularly cool uncle!) - but they came slightly later.

Even though I was around during the 70's, 80's and 90's it amazes me how many different nursery titles seem to have come and gone while passing completely below my radar. Blue Moon certainly sounds as though it was one of the better ones (besides being named after one of my favourite Rogers & Hart songs!). I really must try to find a copy.

- Phil Rushton

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philcom55
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by philcom55 »

Speaking of obscure nursery titles does anybody remember Buttons, which featured various BBC television characters such as Morph and Postman Pat during the early 1980s? Apparently this promotional 'Number 0' issue was given away in copies of Mother & Baby.

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Peter Gray
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by Peter Gray »

I got the first Buttons comic I still have the free gift of a button somewhere..
Also a huge fan of Fun-to-do due to the Mr Men!!

must try and own a Buttons and Fun-to-do again unless they have been cut up..

I was born in 1974..so just about alright to see these...and of course watched all those kids telly programs and can sing the theme tune..

I hope someone can scan some pages of inside the issue...

Also read Jack and Jill and Playhour..

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philcom55
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by philcom55 »

Here are some interior pages from that issue of Buttons Peter:

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Image

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philcom55
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by philcom55 »

'Willo the Wisp' really was a weird series - it's hard to think of it without hearing Kenneth Williams' amazing verbal gymnastics in one's mind's ear! :)

Speaking of weird series, here's a piece of Bob Godfrey-style original art from the 1970s or 1980s which seems to have lost its label.

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Does anybody recognize the character, or the comic he appeared in?

- Phil Rushton

matrix
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by matrix »

Some of these are new to me, but I'm sure I've seen that mouse and man before I wonder is ND a clue? Of course who doesn't know 'Postman Pat' my children used to watch that I think we have a video somewhere? I'm just singing the tune now, lucky you can't hear it!
Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat, and his black and white cat, you know the one!
'Blue Moon' never seen that, it's not in the gallery, but 30th century have a few issues for sale, no 1 six pounds.

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stevezodiac
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by stevezodiac »

I have the first issue of Pepper Street in my bag of first issues. Can't remember who published it. IPC I presume?

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stevezodiac
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by stevezodiac »

Just looked at the gallery and it was DC Thomson. Shame I couldn't have edited my previous post.

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Peter Gray
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by Peter Gray »

The willo the wisp one is just like the telly... :lol:

Put some Pepper Street scans up...never seen that before..though heard of it..

Bigwords
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by Bigwords »

I have a stack of nursery titles which I have yet to get to - the Rainbow television spin-off and the like, and interesting for the details they highlight, such as changes in writing for a younger audience compared to the forties and fifties - but it is going to be two or three weeks before I can begin going through them. Don't really fancy spending the last day online for a while dealing with those...

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philcom55
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Re: Younger reader comics (the best of the rest)

Post by philcom55 »

Matrix's latest post in the Jack & Jill thread has reminded me of one of the more unusual nursery comics to appear during the 1960s. This was Candy which began its run in January 1967 as a companion title to TV21 and Lady Penelope under the 'Century 21' umbrella. As can be seen in the issue shown below, early numbers were printed in a curious lengthways format, and featured a full colour photo-strip of 'Candy & Andy' on the first three pages. Apparently these life-size puppets were originally created for a proposed Gerry Anderson TV series aimed at younger viewers that never got taken up - which, given their distinctly creepy appearance, was probably just as well. Even the giant teddy bear, Mr. Bearanda, manages to look like a sinister axe murderer! :shock:

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...Fortunately the remaining contents, such as Topo Gigio, Tingha & Tucker and William Tymyn's Bengo, were presented in a more traditional cartoon style that was a lot easier on the eye. Some of the first issues also featured Thunderbirds, which makes them highly collectible amongst Gerry Anderson completists.

later on Candy lost its photo strip and adopted a more traditional upright format, as can be seen in this example from 1968:

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Finally, faced with dwindling sales, all the Century 21 comics were taken over by rival publisher IPC who lost no time in incorporating them into their own established titles. Thus TV21 was swallowed by Valiant, Penelope was swallowed by Princess Tina...and Candy was swallowed by Jack & Jill. As far as I can tell, this is the first combined issue of Jack & Jill & Candy (even though Denis Gifford claims that the titles merged on the 3rd of January!):

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For a time Candy and Andy became regular co-stars in Jack & Jill's strip, making them the only survivors from their own comic - but even this was a temporary reprieve. Looking at Matrix's covers dated 11th and 18th April 1970 it seems as though the two children must have fallen into a combine harvester sometime during that week...as a result of which they were, presumably, never heard of again! :?

- Phil Rushton

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