Wednesday, June 6, 2012

120 Year Flashback - Ally Sloper's Half Holiday 1892

Linking in with a recent post about Ally Sloper (which can be found here), the above comic went on sale on Saturday 12th March 1892! Ally Sloper is an important character in comics, mainly because he is considered to be the first one! This paragraph is written by one of Ally's greatest fans, the late Denis Gifford, in his book 'Encyclopedia of Comic Characters':

"The concept of the regulary appearing character had been established well before the concept of the regulary appearing comic, however. The lesson of Ally Sloper was there for learning. Ally Sloper (the name is a Victorian pun: he sloped down the alley when the rent collector came acalling), the first true comic-strip hero of them all, made his debut in a full-page strip entitled 'Some of the Mysteries of Loan and Discount', in the weekly humorous magazine, Judy, on 14th August 1867. Sloper's artist was Charles Henry Ross, a regular cartoon contributor to Judy who soon became its editor. Instead of striving to create a new, different strip page every week, Ross decided there was more mileage in Ally than met the eye. So he brought him back in another page, then another, and another, until soon there were enough pages to be gathered into a book. Ally Sloper: A Moral Lesson, 220 pages of reprinted strips for a shilling, was published in November 1873 and became the first comic-book. The next step was an original Sloper publication: Ally Sloper's Comic Kalender No. 1 came out for Christmas in 1875, and Ally Sloper's Summer Number started in 1880. It was obvious that the public could stand for more Sloper than twice a year, and so, on 3 May 1884, No. 1 of Ally Sloper's Half Holiday, the eminent's own weekly comic, was published. It was destined to run for forty years."

I think that sums up the character perfectly...
The above advertisement states that Half Holiday was the largest illustrated paper in the world (and was even avaliable in Paris!), which is true, as it is said to have sold as many as half a million copies every week!
There was a lot of text in this comic (much more than pictures, unlike today's publications!), but little of it is based on Ally Sloper himself! Despite this, the centre spread and back cover were mostly pictures, and a few, like the one above, are based on Ally.
Another intresting advert is for an Ally Sloper cabinet postcard. I think I may have seen this postcard once before - it features Ally Sloper standing on a box with somebody at either side, and on the box it reads the papers title. Or I could be thinking of something else!
And there were no free gifts taped to the cover back then either, instead you got £150 if you were found dead on a railway track, holding a copy of that weeks comic! That's right - £150!
I hope you enjoyed this post, I thought it would be nice to get out of the era that I usually cover on this site. If you like Ally Sloper and/or other Victorian comics, make sure you buy a copy of The Sloperian, avaliable from here for just £5!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you know whether terms such as "Sloperian Brotherhood", "Sloper" and "FOS" had connections with this comic?