welcome and enjoy!

Hi and welcome to my blog about comics from other people’s childhood! It is dedicated primarily to British humour comics of the 60s and 70s. The reason they are not from my childhood is simply because I didn’t live in the UK back then (nor do I live there now). I knew next to nothing about them until fairly recently but since then I’ve developed a strong liking for the medium and amassed a large collection, including a number of complete or near complete sets. My intention is to use this blog as a channel for sharing my humble knowledge about different titles, favourite characters and creators as I slowly research my collection.

QUICK TIP: this blog is a sequence of posts covering one particular comic at a time. The sequence follows a certain logic, so for maximum results it is recommended that the blog is read from the oldest post up.

Copyright of all images and quotations used here is with their respective owners. Any such copyrighted material is used exclusively for educational purposes and will be removed at first notice. All other text copyright Irmantas P.

Showing posts with label Playhour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Playhour. Show all posts

Friday, July 10, 2015


Lawson Wood (1878 – 1957) was a British artist and illustrator who is probably best remembered for his humorous depictions of a chimpanzee called Gran'pop – a character featured in a series of annuals. His work appears to have been very popular on both sides of the Atlantic and was widely used by advertising agencies, manufacturers of postcards, trading cards, calendars, puzzles and whatnot. I first saw his drawings and distinctive signature on the front covers of early issues of the nursery comic Playhour. Here is the first one with the chimps cover, unsigned:

I was browsing eBay the other day and found something described as Lawson Wood German Porcelain figurine, offered by a seller in Germany. I’ve heard about "The Lawson Woodies” line of wooden toys but not about porcelain figurines. According to the description, it was made ca. 1930. It depicts a sinister penguin and is 30 cms tall.

I am not into this kind of collectibles and have no idea about their value but this example attracted quite a bit of attention and sold for £ 67.00. I wonder if the buyer wanted it because of Lawson Wood connection or for other reasons? Anyway, here are some images courtesy of eBay:

In an unlikely event if you are not familiar with this prolific artist, here are some fine examples of Lawson Wood's Gran’pop work: 

Thursday, December 25, 2014


The 1968 Christmas issue of PLAYHOUR was filled with festive goodness from cover to cover. Check out a few of the pages below.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014


To celebrate the Holiday Season, let’s take a look at two pre-Christmas issues of PLAYHOUR that happens to one of my favorite UK titles. In the end of September 1965 the magazine was given a facelift and got a new front cover design with a large drawing of Sooty and Sweep all over the page. To make it more fun, a couple of issues later it increased in size and became a tabloid-size magazine like the early BUSTER. I am not sure how long it continued like this but here are front and back covers of the pre-X-mas issue from 1965 with Sooty and Sweep singing Christmas carols; artwork by Gordon Hutchings, I believe:

Unusually for December issues of PLAYHOUR that used to celebrate X-mas big time throughout the month, this one only had one or two Christmassy stories inside. The next issue I am going to look at today is very different in that respect. In PLAYHOUR AND TV TOYLAND cover-dated 21st December, 1968, ALL but one strip were in the X-mas mood! Leo the Friendly Lion was the only one that was not and that’s because the scene was set in exotic jungle. This didn’t prevent it from turning Christmassy in the next week’s issue which will feature in the next blogpost. In the meantime, enjoy these pages from the 1968 pre-Xmas issue of this excellent title:

Friday, October 31, 2014


With Halloween spirit in the air, let’s see how PLAYHOUR's Gulliver Guinea-Pig celebrated it in the company of some Scottish mice back in 1958. The story seems to suggest that in those days the English weren’t familiar with Hallowe’en quite as well as the folks up North, or at least didn’t celebrate it with the same eagerness as the Scots(mice)...  

Thursday, December 26, 2013


The end of the year is a good time to look back and see where my collecting hobby and enthusiasm for UK comics has taken me and what lies ahead... First of all I am very happy and proud I completed a detailed overview of SHIVER AND SHAKE that is easily one of my favourite British comics. I was hoping it will be a kind of an introduction to the epic quest of covering the entire eleven-year run of WHOOPEE! – the comic that is responsible for triggering my interest in British comics in the first place. I have compiled a detailed index of the title and all of its strips but it looks like the WHOOPEE! tribute project will have to wait because I’ve picked another IPC comic for 2014. As opposed to 567 issues of WHOOPEE!, MONSTER FUN COMIC had a modest run of just 73 issues (which is even less than SHIVER AND SHAKE at 79) and I am confident I can comfortably manage it over the next 12 months.

My other quests for 2014 (and beyond, if necessary) include completing the runs of BUSTER (only 9 issues remaining, plus 4 issues that I need to upgrade condition-wise) and SPARKY (41 issues remaining, including 6 issues that I need better copies of). I am also determined to collect a full set of GIGGLE but it’s a tough one and I still need 16 issues (of the total of 38). In keeping with the theme of the Holiday Season, here is the front cover of the only X-mas number of the title:

This year I was lucky to pick up a few large joblots of The Dandy and The Beano from the 70s and the 80s, also a nice long run of early NUTTYs. Buying large joblots appears to be an excellent idea because comics tend to come in uninterrupted runs and often in fine condition, with pink flyers and even free gifts intact. As an extra bonus, the joblots that I bought were outrageously cheap. I took them to the local binders and had them bound in half-year hard-cover volumes. The only difference between my bound sets and those sometimes offered by phil-comics on eBay is the absence of printed text on the spines of my copies (which makes them look like dull office ledgers from the outside) but I intend to compensate with bright dust-jackets. The plan is to collect complete runs of the Dandy and the Beano from 1970 until the change of format in the late 80s and have them packaged nicely in half-year books. I am also doing pretty well collecting the Beano and the Dandy of the 60s but I have no plans to have them bound. They will all remain individually bagged and boarded because that’s how I believe they should be stored.

That's just a small part of my bound volumes...

I often tell myself my collection is nearly as complete as I’ll ever want it to be and I should put my hobby on hold. The problem that I’ve got is that I have to be very careful reading Comics UK Forum and some UK comics blogs because sometimes I unexpectedly bump into unfamiliar titles and artists that fascinate me and I get carried away again... 2013 was the year I discovered young children’s magazines and comics, such as TREASURE, ONCE UPON A TIME and PLAYHOUR, and in them such artists as Woolcock, Quinto, Mendoza and Hutchings, drawing many first-rate features and strips, such as Gulliver Guinea-Pig in PLAYHOUR. This smoothly brings me back to the subject of the Holiday Season and those scrumptious festive numbers. PLAYHOUR took their Christmas very seriously in the early 60s and played the theme throughout December on the covers and in Gulliver Guinea-Pig tales inside. Check out these images from the X-mas edition of 1960 (unfortunately, the only one from December that I’ve got from the year so far). Artists’ signatures tell us the front cover is by Gordon Hutchings and Gulliver Guinea-Pig by Philip Mendoza.

In December of 1962 PLAYHOUR ran a three-week story Gulliver Guinea-Pig and the Christmas Toymakers illustrated by Hutchings, and in 1963 – another three-week tale of Gulliver Guinea-Pig’s Travels in which the Toymakers invited him to trim Father Christmas’ beard. I will save those for some other time but here is the cover of a 1963 Christmas edition (the last one of the three from that year) and a sweet little X-mas tale from the same number. The cover is somewhat unusual in that it has no sign of snow – was the greenhouse effect already at work in 1963?