Seeing some comics in a newsagent's shop recently made me think about the comics we used to devour in Summervale in the 1950s. My brothers and I used to read a lot of comics, though I knew that in some adult circles there was opposition to them ('rot your brain' and all that stuff). Actually, I think they helped us to improve our literacy. In the early 50s there weren't too many TVs about, so listening to the radio and reading comics all helped raise our awareness of language. As I was a newspaper delivery boy I also read a lot of newspapers too. My relatives were always laughing at me because I had my head in a newspaper!
I probably saw most of the comics of the time because I delivered them. There always seemed to be plenty of comics to read. Some of my favourites were Eagle, Beano, Dandy and Tiger.
In the Eagle my favourite character was the front page hero, Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future. Sci-fi was very popular then (remember "Journey into Space" on the radio?) and we loved it when Dan triumphed in his clashes with The Mekon. Riders of the Range was also good and I liked PC 49 too. Tommy Walls was super-human too, always coming to the rescue as he sprang into action with his famous W sign with his fingers and thumbs! (Was he a plug for Walls ice-cream?)
The Beano was widely loved and we would talk about it on the way to school, and in school. Dennis the Menace, with his red and black jumper and spiky hair was a favourite character, and the Bash Street Kids were unbelievable. Could they really play up teachers like that? Firing paper pellets at teachers; buckets of water suspended over the door, etc. None of this happened at school in Ditton Street, at least not to my knowledge! We also liked Lord Snooty and Roger the Dodger - if he could get out of something, he would!
We also read The Dandy, a similar comic to Beano. Desperate Dan, with his great strength, performed unimaginable feats of strength ,once he had eaten his favourite cow-pie. And who remembers Keyhole Kate, Hungry Horace and Korky the Cat? All much-loved characters.
Tiger was a big favourite of mine. To a football mad young teenager the adventures of Roy of the Rovers of Melchester Rovers were out of this world. Roy always seemed to be coming to the rescue of his team. He might arrive at half-time when his side was 0-4 down; then, of course, thanks to the super-heroics of Roy, they would win 5-4 to take the cup. Or something like that!
Does anyone remember reading The Boy's Own Paper? We often got this one; I think it was a monthly. It was full of adventure stories about the RAF, colonial explorers, scraps with the Germans, sport, the American West and so on. There were also lots of helpful hints about scouts, bikes, crystal sets, etc. I particularly liked the puzzles and games.
We used to swap a lot of comics or get given them. I think it was Mike Smith who used to give us Hotspur and Wizard comics. These were full of adventure stories, all aimed at boys. Two other comics I recall were The Topper and Beezer. These were so different because they were larger than the rest. I think they were broadsheet size, like many of the newspapers I delivered. But at the moment I can't remember anything about the contents of these two comics! Can anyone?
Many of these comics I've mentioned were aimed at boys. Apart from Beano and Dandy, perhaps. So what were the girls reading then? I know they had their own comics because I remember delivering Girl, which I think was something like Eagle.
(I only remember “Girl” and recognise the logo above. I used to get the annual at Christmas but have no recollection of any stories.
Comics, I think , were a “boy” thing.)JJ
I think I brought a copy home from my newsagent boss one day! Actually, that was another way we got comics. If copies were a few weeks out of date Mr. Bradburn, the newsagent, would give them to me, free, to take home.
To this day I can still recall some lines from one of the cowboy stories I read. There was a scene at the bottom of the page ,where the hero is hanging from a branch above a cliff edge. He says: "Hand slipping .... loose bark.....can't hold on...." And then you have to buy the comic next week to see what happened!".How do I remember this? My brothers and I thought this was so funny that over the years we kept repeating it to each other. So that's how it stuck!
Well, let's hear about your comic favourites and stories, Summervaleans!
Peter Westmacott in Suffolk