Lucky Dice

Aug 10, 2010

During the 1940s and early 1950s a number of publishers in the UK decided to fill the void provided by the temporary unavailability of the thicker and more colourful imported comicbooks that had begun to appear here alongside the  american pulps and paperbacks. Gerald G. Swan is perhaps the most well known “small” publisher from these times as he also produced a number of hardbacked Annuals which have a better survival rate than the newsprint comics.

The contents of these comics were often as poor as the quality of paper they were printed on. Which was pretty much any paper they could get their hands on when rationing was still in place. Usually consisting of 16 pages, but sometimes a mere 8 pages long, with prices ranging from 2d to a head-spinning 6d each. No dates (and sometimes no numbers) increased their shelf life. They must have sold but you’d think that given the choice most children at the time would have preferred to spend their money on a Dandy or a Beano, a Comic Cuts or Radio Fun or by 1951 an Eagle.

This un-numbered, undated comic was published by Funnibooks of Glasgow. I don’t know if this was an offshoot of Cartoon Art Productions (CAPtoons) also of Glasgow who were responsible for the “Super Duper” comic I mentioned recently. They were certainly using some of the same artists. The last two strips in this comic are signed by Dennis M. Reader (1927 – 1995) who would often be found within the pages of these types of comics, often drawing infamous characters such as Phantom Maid and Electro Girl. Although I don’t intend to make a habit of scanning old comics I thought this was obscure enough to make an exception.

Lucky Dice Comic  as a cbz – date unknown 

If nothing else at least this second panel made me smile….

9 Responses to “Lucky Dice”

  1. comicdotcool Says:

    Thanks for the pdf download! Love this kind of stuff.

  2. Hmm …
    I’m so appreciative of a great upload like this that it seems churlish to pick, but …
    we’re in a historical vacuum here, and I’m personally not comfortable that the UK publications were a result of the ‘temporary unavailability’ of US comics.

    Although it’s probably more a war thing about essential supplies, there’s no apparent evidence that prior to that late 30’s US comics were imported in ANY quantity to the UK before the war.
    If US comics from the pre and war years were imported in commercial quantity, then why were they not just rare but impossible to find in the UK in the 70s and 80s? Some would have turned up, not just the very very few that could be normally be found in the backs of fanzines.

    In addition, it’s interesting to note that the non-import of US comics appears to be a conscious thing in the ‘good old Empire’. The Aussies actually deliberately imported UK comics in preference to US so as not to spend dollars (through their main publishers KG Murray) – I believe there was some kind of law about it?

    US comics weren’t available in numbers in the UK until proper distribution began in 1958 (for DC comics). 18 years is hardly a ‘temporary unavailability’. We should also remember that Marvelman was the result of the end of Fawcett’s Marvelman reprint rights, and many UK comics of the period were reprints of US material from Charlton, Fawcett etc, which indicates they weren’t made available commercially in their original form, that was the US publishing companies only in to the market.

    It’s always been a canard that US comics between the 1930s and 1958 (when DC first made their material available) were either ballast or brought through by the troops. Wish there was some way to trace the pattern of ownership from sales since the 1970s to prove/disprove it, although I’d personally vouch for the 1950s stuff I own being water damaged.

    Many many thanks for that upload

  3. ok
    I meant Marvelman was the result of the end of Fawcett’s CAPTAIN MARVEL reprint rights,

  4. I’m sure you’re right. I’ll remove the offending post immediately.

  5. No, seriously, luckily I’m not old enough to have any first hand experience of the 1940s and early 1950s.

    Through conversations with an old time collector many years ago I found that american comics … even ECs… did arrive here before 1958 but it was a very regional thing. Scotland, along with Liverpool and a few other ports seemed to be the main places. Distribution was certainly by other means than the way the regular comics and newspapers arrived at your local newsagents. I’m sure they were just mixed in with the girlie magazines and “Detective” and “Real Men’s Adventures” type stuff that even as early as the 1930s were being sold by street vendors or even people in pubs. I was told that Woolworths were a source of Dell comics etc until the “horror comic” scare from the USA reached our shores.

    Perhaps someone with a proper blog will one day explain the mysteries of comicbook distribution of yore…..

  6. Not thought about the Brit version of Dr Wertham’s crusade, largely on the back of ‘Seduction of the Innocent’ and which got EC Comics and the rest of the horror stuff banned through The Childrens and Young Persons Act 1954. That itself would have reminded me that there must have been some distribution of US comics in the UK before then.
    Can’t remember the title offhand or find it on a quick search, but there was a book written about the 50s British comics witchhunt by a British author some 15 years ago that I remember trying to find a few years back without success.

    Some of what we’ve discussed is kinda confirmed at:

    If only Denis Gifford was still around. I get the feeling there’s a lot of history just disappearing before our eyes …

  7. Despite the warnings from the Jungle Book vultures, I’m still just ‘Too hasty’
    Found that book …
    Barker, Martin (1992). A Haunt of Fears: The Strange History of the British Horror Comics Campaign. Studies in Popular Culture Series. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 256. ISBN 0878055940.
    now to find a copy …

  8. Thanks for the info. I seem to have missed that book. Just bought a copy from Amazon Marketplace for a fiver. (That’s if you didn’t buy it already in which case in a week I’ll get an eMail saying the item was already sold…I hate that…)

    Typing “Haunt of Fears” into the new look Google images gets umpty thrumpty Haunt of Fear comicbook covers………and eventually the cover of the book you mention…..

  9. Happy to be of service –
    best I can do as a ‘thanks’ for the blog.
    see ya somewhere in the next few …

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