Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Halfpenny Comic No. 27 (1898)

The Halfpenny Comic (no prizes for guessing how much it cost) No. 27, Vol. II (the first of volume two), dated 23rd July 1898, is an important issue for the title for it is the issue when it went big, or as the strapline put it: "Number 1 Enlarged Series. A Mammoth Ha'Porth". At this point The Halfpenny Comic was published by The Proprietors and after just 26 issues they had decided to lower the page count from twelve to eight, but put up the size of the pages by an inch each way, now measuring 12"x16" instead of 11"x15". Still costing one halfpenny, the new version put Those Terrible Twins, who bore the unfortunate names of Willie and Wally Wanks, on the front cover, along with their grandpa, who appeared in just about every episode, and in this one he is silly enough to take the twins to his offices. Illustrated by Frank Holland the series is fantastically illustrated and the stories never fail to amuse, in this particular strip I just love that first panel.

The Halfpenny Comic, as were just about all comics at the time, was aimed at adults and there are jokes in the issues which prove this but I like the fact that the cover stars are children, possibly the publishers realised children were buying comics too and slowly changed the contents to suit them more. Wally and Willy are the earliest recurring child stars I've seen in a British comic, with exception to The Ball's Pond Banditti (although I'm sure there will be others).

The contents remained fairly similar after the revamp. Here's a strip from this issue that is of interest for I can't help but wonder if the characters in it are portraits of the artist and editor themselves, and the story is inspired by a real life event. Sadly I don't know who either the artist or editor were, so there's no way of knowing.

The Halfpenny Comic was sold off to Trapps Holmes and Company early in 1899, who sadly killed off Those Terrible Twins the following year. Quite a number of coloured numbers were produced which, unlike Alfred Harmsworth's coloured editions of his comics, still cost a halfpenny. The Christmas editions cost one penny however, so to avoid confusion the name was changed to 'The Christmas Comic'. It folded in December 1906.


Kid said...

Bet it costs far more than a halfpenny to buy a copy of this comic nowadays, George.

Bruce Laing said...

I think it was originally published by Trapps Holmes and Co., but the publishers only put "the proprietors".

Harmsworth/the A. P. also called themselves "the proprietora" on their titles. I have a Magnet Library in my collection wirh the same monkker.

George Shiers said...

Kid - Yes, for me this one went up by 95 1/2p! I wonder what one would fetch at a proper comics auction though, such as Compal Comics?

Bruce - If that's so where did Traps Holmes and Co. get all there money? I find it amazing that they published two coloured comics of The Halfpenny Comic only a few weeks apart, as well as their regular halfpenny comic The Coloured Comic.

Also, I'm a little confused regarding the christmas numbers. I said that The Christmas Comic was the Christmas edition of the Halfpenny Comic, undergoing a name change as it cost one penny. But I've just found The Halfpenny Comic Christmas Number from 1898, costing a halfpenny. Were two editions produced? I'm using Denis Gifford's Comic Catalogue as a guide, maybe he got confused. Can you clear anything up on this?

Bruce Laing said...

I wish I knew, as I only have the one copy. :(

George Shiers said...

Mystery solved - it only became The Christmas Comic from 1899, meaning that the first one was indeed just called the Halfpenny Comic Christmas Number (Christmas Number was the strapline, by the way).