Sunday, April 10, 2016

Film Fun No. 1 (1920)

I have just realised that on this blog I have never covered an issue of Film Fun, so what better way to fix that than to look at the very first issue, from 17th January 1920. Film Fun would go on to be a very successful comic, and in April 1920 was joined by its sister paper The Kinema Comic, created to use up any stars Film Fun had missed so that Amalgamated Press had no competition and dominated the market.

The front page featured a strip entitled 'The Adventures of Winkle, the Pathe Mirth Wizard', illustrated by Tom Radford and probably written by his brother William. The strip continued over on the back cover.

For their 1 1/2D readers got twenty black and white pages, and this first issue came with a free "plate" of Fatty Arbuckle. Fatty Arbuckle appeared on page two as a text strip, and would grace the front cover of Kinema Comic as a comic star later that year. The story was supposedly "Written by 'Fatty' Himself", but I don't think that's true in this instance. Most celebrities were used without permission or knowledge but a few did get on board and help out from time to time. Of course, Fatty didn't last long in either papers due to a huge scandal in 1921 where he was accused of rape after someone died at one of his infamous drunken parties at a San Francisco hotel. 

Issue two's free gift would be a plate of Harold Lloyd. Personally I'd have given away Lloyd's gift with the first issue as he is the cover star, and Arbuckle's in the second. Here's the advert for the gift, a tiny panel that appeared in the middle of page 12.

Moving onto the comic strips, page nine featured Mack Swain, another fat film star of early cinema. Art is by George Wakefield.

Harry Parlett, Reg Parlett's father, was also a contributor of this first issue, drawing a number of strips including this Slim Summerville page.

Film Fun wouldn't end its astonishing run until September 1962, producing 2225 issues. It would merge into Buster, where the name would stick until 29th June 1963. By the time it died Film Fun looked very dated. Sure, it had added red to its covers but by the 1960's any comic without a full-colour cover looked old fashioned and dull, hidden behind far brighter comics such as The Beezer, The Topper and Buster. 

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