My small collection of 1950’s “Topper” comics are bound between hardcovers and blue bookcloth.Topper was the first comic I ever read. My late uncle Paddy’s weekly routine was to supply me with this and the “Dandy”.I still blame him for my life-long interest in story and art. The Topper was as large as a newspaper back then.This book above was one of the first attempts I made at the craft of bookbinding and is a beautiful way to protect these overlarge comics pages from wear and tear.My earliest Topper is from March 1954.
Dudley D.Watkins was the mainstay artist on these comics , contributing the frontpage “Mickey” strip but also some classsic storytelling in a more realistic style for the likes of “Robinson Crusoe
Beryl the Peril was the Topper’s answer to the hooligan Denis the Menace in the Beano. Davey Law was the creator and he began drawing her in 1953.
This run of TV Comic comes from 1963 at a time when television sets were quite exotic household items and people were really only beginning to get them .They were mostly paid for on a rental basis, but they entranced people to the point where they would watch virtually anything on this new sci-fi gadget. Comics , not realising at first that they were actually dealing with the nemesis which would eventually destroy their then massive sales some mere years later, weren’t long catching up on this new trend. Television cartoon characters such as “Popeye” and Gerry Anderson’s puppetry shows such as “Fireball Xl5” and “Supercar”, the forerunners of “Thunderbirds”, pulled in the readers, as did popular comedy shows such as “Bootsie and Snudge” which were a very popular offshoot of “the Army Game” starring such comedy actors such as Alfie Bass..
There is even a Holiday Special issue from that same year , 1963 featuring many of the television characters .That looks like “Lenny the Lion” diving into the ocean , and Pixie and Dixie standing on the fence ,on this cover.
This set is from 1963 and features “Express Weekly” which was morphing into “TV Express”. One of my very earliest “Buster” comics is this one from 1961.I have several more Busters from around this time but they are slightly smaller in size so I bound them together into a hardback book similar to the “Topper” one above which I’ll feature at another time..The “Swift” comic is the only one I have . It was from the same stable as “Eagle”.
Eagle was possibly one of the very best comics produced anywhere , with constantly high standards of illustration.Every cover featured beautiful water -colour painted artwork. i have many of these from the 1960’s, some of which i’ve again bound into cloth-covered hardback books.This is only an example from one of the boxes.
Another consistantly well-produced comic was the weekly “Valiant”. The covers were all colour but the insides were black and white artwork.This is a small selection of many I have that span the 1960’s.
Below is one of the incredible Russ Cochran boxsets of the re-printed 1950’s EC comics. I have five of these very expensive sets from the 1980’s .They are beautifully made books and each set comprises the entire run of a specific title. In this case it is “Shock Suspenstories”. Beautiful artwork on every page by the best talents in the business and short stories told with “O’Henry ” shock -endings…mostly of some social concern.
No comic collection would be complete without the inclusion of some of the talented Berni Wrightson’s comic work .I came across Berni in some of the fanzines and then he began to appear in some of the National DC ‘s horror titles .He excelled at detailed atmospheric linework and his first series proper was this run of the “Swamp Thing” title.