Q&A

What comics does your blog mainly cover?

I’m mainly interested in Boys’ story papers from the 1890’s, up to the early part of the Second World War, with a special focus on the period 1901 to 1915. I have a secondary interest in Girls’ story papers from 1920 to 1945 (earlier ones were nearly all Brontë-style romance, and pretty boring). I’m also into Boys’ adventure comics from 1950 up to the present, and girls’ comics from the same period (though, of course, they died out in the very early 2000’s). I also have a slight interest in the UK Small Press, though a lot of it is far-left, or just horribly derivative (I include my own comics in the latter!). I have built up a large collection, though I rarely go to cons any more.

I aim to write about comics which do not already have a large presence on the internet. Many old story papers are only given bare-bones coverage online – start and end dates, maybe the names of the editors, and perhaps a few tiny, grainy, 90’s-scanned cover images. Some of the “better covered” story papers may have a dry list of titles and issue dates, which are interesting, but don’t tell what the comics were actually like!

This blog, then, will feature descriptions / reviews of the stories, as well as large, clear photos (and sometimes scans) of not just the covers, but also the interiors, of the comics. Where appropriate / possible, there will also be some historical context – what sort of world were the original buyers reading this stuff in? I try to aim to average one update a month, though there will be “up and down” periods depending on what I’m doing.

As you can probably tell I much prefer adventure comics to “funnies”! I never really had adventure comics when I was growing up in the 90’s, there was no adventure in The Beano and Commando only seemed to be sold at the seaside. The Victor and New Eagle both died out while I was still very young, and 2000AD was already too ‘adult’ (though I started getting odd ones from about 1997 onwards). Since discovering the history of Britsh adventure comics indirectly, through an article about Sexton Blake in the Judge Dredd Megazine in 2005, I’ve spent I-dread-to-think-how-much amassing a collection of all sorts.

What comics are you currently buying?

This list will probably change a lot, but at the moment:

British

  • The Pheonix – subscribed.
  • Commando – Every issue from shops.
  • Spaceship Away – ‘bursts’ of issues from the website, when I have the money.
  • Viz – Most issues from shops.
  • The Beano – Very Occasionally.
  • My Weekly Pocket Novel – Even more occasionally, mainly the Maudie and Moonstones stories.

Foreign

  • Genshiken – Buying the volumes as they come out
  • His Favourite – and this, though they’re hardly ever in the shops
  • Crimson Spell – and neither is this.

Reprint books

Aiming for eventual complete collections of the reprints of:

  • Dan Dare
  • Doctor Who
  • Modesty Blaise
  • Viz (their annuals are reprint books)

But it’s very expensive!

What comics from the past are you interested in?

  • Virtually everything with adventure stories in from between 1892 and 1945, and especially between 1901 and 1915!
  • The Boys’ Friend – my favourite comic!
  • The Boys’ Friend Library (pre-1925 ideally)
  • Union Jack (1894 – 1933 version)
  • The Boys’ Journal
  • The Boys’ Realm
  • The Boys’ Realm Sports Library
  • The Boys’ Herald
  • The Nelson Lee Library
  • The Sexton Blake Library (especially pre-WW2)
  • Puck (Rob the Rover issues)
  • The Butterfly (certain issues only)
  • Chums
  • Boys of Our Empire
  • The Magnet
  • The Gem
  • Boys
  • Girls’ Crystal / The Crystal
  • The Schoolgirl
  • School Friend
  • The Schoolgirls’ Own
  • The Schoolgirls’ Own Library
  • Schoolgirls’ Picture Library
  • Valentine (early issues)
  • Eagle
  • The Victor
  • War Picture Library
  • Tornado
  • Roy of the Rovers
  • The Wizard (both versions)
  • Bunty
  • Jinty
  • Sally
  • Tiger
  • Sandie
  • Adventure
  • The Captain
  • Commando (not interested in paying funny money for that random early issue you found. It’s probably been reprinted, anyway).
  • War Picture Library.
  • Chatterbox (post 1905 ideally)
  • Anything Japanese from before 1945. I’ll worry about being able to read it later.
  • Anything current from Japan if it’s cheap enough!
  • Anything German from before 1918, it must be fascinating to see what they were saying about Britain and France. I’ll worry about being able to read it even later!
  • Odd issues of other foreign things old and new. I have single issues of Spirou and Je Bouquine I bought while passing through France, as well as a couple of issues of Condorito, from Chile via Columbia!

How much are these comics I just found worth?

This is not a “valuation” blog. Nor am I absolutely desperate to collect every issue of everything on my list (except for bound volumes of the Boys’ Friend / Herald / Realm, or early Union Jack!). You are not rich, though. Hardly any Brits care about British comics (why else do you think you just found that stash in an attic / shed / lockup? – could you have even named that comic the previous day?). Even fewer foreigners do – the community of non-Brits who really care about this stuff could be counted on your fingers. The chances are that any ‘amazing’ finds are, in fact, modern reprints. The most valuable British comics (issue 1 of the Beano and Dandy) have been reprinted several times this decade alone, a few chancers putting the Guardian’s reprint on Ebay, claiming to have “found it in a wall”, the very same day it came out!).

If they’re Number 1 of The Beano or The Dandy (if they’re not modern reprints (hint: they are modern reprints)):  £7,000.

If they’re early Beano or Dandy annuals: £1000 – 2000.

If they’re early issues of The Beano or The Dandy: £100 – 500.

If they’re early issues of Eagle: £10 – 50.

If they’re early Eagle annuals / The rarer Radio Fun annual 1950 / Pre or during WW2 annuals in very good condition: £50 – 75.

If it’s Number 1 of Commando: £200

If it’s early numbers of Commando, or the comics like Commando: £10 – £100

If it’s random high numbers of commando-like comics from the 60’s onwards: 10p – £2

If they’re single issues from before WW2: £1 – 20 depending on condition and where they are being sold.

If they’re single issues from the time of paper rationing: £5 – 20 depending on condition.

If they’re single issues from the late 1940’s from a small publisher: £10 – 50.

If they’re single issues of anything from 1950 onwards: 1p – £3

If they’re annuals from 1950 onwards: 99p – £10. Unless they’re early Doctor Who annuals in which case £silly money

If they’re bound volumes of papers that were not officially sold as bound volumes: £10 – 200, depending on condition and rarity.

If they’re bound volumes of papers that were officially sold as bound volumes (Chums, Chatterbox etc): £5-50. Higher prices for first volumes only.

14 Comments

  1. Dear crystalknights,

    Can you help me trace a spectacularly illustrated adventure story set in North America during the British/French “Seven Years War,” that was serialised in strip form for many weeks on the covers of (most probably) The Hotspur, Wizard, Rover – or possibly, some other DCT adventure paper – which I fondly recall reading with enormous enjoyment as a small boy, in the late 1940s/early 50s…?

    I’m sure your very busy and I certainly don’t expect you to use up much of your time, but from what I’ve read about you on your absorbing blog I’m pretty sure that you too would find this item interesting.

    In any event, I’d be grateful if you could at least narrow the search down and perhaps identify the title for me.

    Thank you.

  2. Whew, almost missed this one in the weekly spam clearup!

    Anyway, I’m not too familiar with the ins and outs of the DCT story papers, though I know it was not on the cover of The Wizard over 1947-8, which had a fantasy story called something like “The Sword of Truth”.

    Somebody on the forum at http://www.comicsuk.co.uk will probably know, there’s a few members there who are like walking DCT encyclopaedias!

  3. Hi,

    I’ve been looking for someone with good knowledge of old comics, and finaly I foudn this site 🙂 Anyway, do you happen to know of one old comic (probably one shot story) about alien invading the Earth, and one soldier returning from the War (probably WWII) the only one fighting them.

    I can only remember only few details – big seashore bunkers (from WWII) where Soldier hides, him having a Springfield rifle, resistance consisting of very few people, and then of course one of them betraying the Soldier to the Aliens.

    Any ideas?

  4. It doesn’t ring any bells, sorry. Do you mean a British comic? It sounds like it could be DC Thomson, they usually did more “out there” stories of alien invasions and superpowers. Or possibly Battle Picture Weekly, they did some one-shot war stories that often had a downbeat or twist ending. But those usually had “realistic” settings in wars that actually happened.

  5. Hi, in the Chatterbox yearly annual dated 1884 there are a number of poems by G.S.O Does
    anyone know who this poet is ? one of the poems is called ” On the Mountain ”
    hoping someone can enlighten me.
    Regards
    John Martin.

  6. Please can you tell me the name of the boys comic
    which I think was in the middle part of the 1950’s a weekly I think
    which featured Billy the Kid (was it called the Sun?)

  7. There was a comic that ran from the late 40’s and into the 50’s called Sun (originally Fitness and Sun), I’m pretty sure it had western stories, too! I think the later issues were “American format”, and had lots of red on the covers.

  8. hi,

    I am thinking of using some of the old comic book characters in some artwork. What is the copyright..I think the 1930’s to the 1950s are public and are not covered by any copyright any longer. Or am I talking rubbish.

  9. Hi!
    I wondered where you found/bought the Pluck magazines from? I am desperately trying to find them for my dissertation but with no luck so far!
    Thank you
    Elle

  10. I think I found them all on Ebay, though they rarely appear. I may have bought a bound volume from compalcomics.com when they auctioned some, too. But they haven’t had any old story papers like that in a while, now.
    There’s a very few Pluck’s on Ebay now, looks like only two, one from 1924 and one that appears to be from the 1910’s, which is being sold with two “Marvel Comics” (The Halfpenny Marvel, not that Marvel, I suppose XD).

  11. I have a bound Pluck 166-191 Jan-June 1908. Cover, spine and first page not great condition, but the rest is OK. Might you be interested?

  12. Also have Boy’s Own Annual 1896-97, bound, but no front or spine cover and front page is loose. Otherwise OK.

  13. Hi, sorry it took so long to approve your comment.
    If you do see this, normally I would leap at the chance, but unfortunately I am now unemployed in Japan. If you haven’t put it on Ebay or somewhere I may be interested when I find a job!

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