Saturday, 12 February 2011

Two Color Trash - Post War Thrills On A Budget!!!

Before April 1950 when Eagle comic arrived on newsagents shelves in all it's four color rotogravure glory, there were comics that haunted the UK's corner shops and newsagents, which were unlikely to win the approval of all but the most indulgent parents. These comics which were largely the provenance of Bolton born illustrator Denis McLoughlin were far less appealing to middle class parents than Eagle comic and it's flagship hero, Colonel Dan Dare. While both Frank Hampson and Denis Mcloughlin may have shared an enthusiasm for U.S. comics artistry, their take on the subject matter was entirely different. Hampson's Dan Dare reflected a post war optimism and belief in the doctrine of peace and intergalactic harmony, whereas McLoughlin's comics were very much rooted in the familiar themes of guns, knives,  violence and the kind of women that would drive a man to ruin.


These comics which were published by T.V. Boardman from 1948 onwards looked very much the poor cousins of the four color U.S. comics that they sought to emulate and in some cases (Blackhawk and The Spirit) repackage. As can be seen the Boardman budget did not extend as far as four colors and the two color compromise printed in orange and green/ grey looked about as drear as the post war austerity that still held a bankrupt Britannia in it's iron grip.

Once again I must extend my profound thanks to Malcolm Norton for providing the scans of these now incredibly scarce comics.

















10 comments:

  1. AH! I knew my dad was fond of BLACKHAWK comics as a lad, presumably this was the format he'd have read them in.

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  2. Wonderful stuff! The educated ape page is my favourite.

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  3. It's brilliant to see all those McLoughlin gems together in one place (sadly I only own one of the Blackhawk issues myself, along with a later Roy Carson Comic for which post-war austerity had relaxed enough to provide the luxury of a 4-colour cover).

    On the subject of Blackhawk comics, Mark, it's worth remembering that there was also a 68-page British edition published by Strato/Thorpe & Porter during the 1950s. These were similar to the later Alan Class titles and lasted for over thirty issues - until T&P began to import the US originals.

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  4. I think I might have the same Roy Carson comic Phil. I'll post a scan of the cover sometime soon.

    It's worth noting that with at least a couple of the samples shown here - Blackhawk and The Spirit, Denis is contributing the splash panel to artwork by Chuck Cudeira and Will Eisner for these repackages of U.S. strips.

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  5. Two colours made for an odd (and mildly depressing) choice - simple b&w would surely have been preferable, as it wouldn't have detracted from the very vigorous and red-blooded artwork. And as for those women! Well, I just can't picture them in The DFC :)

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  6. Actually I think being restricted to one colour can lead to some startlingly powerful pieces of design. DC Thomson regularly made a virtue of this in their Annuals, and I have some truly amazing issues of Scoops from the 1930s (arguably the first British SF magazine). Oddly enough I'd argue that it was the photogravure printing that undermined those Boardman covers by tempting them to overuse washed-out greys and pinks instead of a direct contrast between black and red.

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  7. You're right, Phil. I can remember (just!) some comic annuals with very vibrant red and black printing.

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  8. Guns, knives, violence and the kind of women that would drive a man to ruin are exactly the reason I go to LA so often!

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  9. Actually considering the kind of women you meet Simon, it's a blooming miracle you ever make it back to Blighty.

    They make even McLoughlin's lovelies seem a little tame.

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