As you may or may not know, tomorrow is MCM Manchester Comic-Con, and for this I am very excited. I once made a pilgrimage to Belgium to visit The Hergé Museum and The Belgian Comic Strip Center because, well, I love comics. So in celebration of tomorrow I thought for this weeks Find it Friday I would show you the oldest Comics we have in our collection here at Stockport’s Curatorial Services.
These are two issues of the early 20th century comic, Playtime. They are from August and October of 1920, making them 93 years old!! They are priced at 2d, which is 2 pennies/pence. Generally, the comics I buy range between £2 and £4, if we average that to £3, for the price of one comic today you could buy 150 issues of Playtime.
Considering their age they are in extremely good condition; there are no rips in the paper, all the pages are still intact, joined together with staples and the pages aren’t creased or folded. Of course, the comics are discoloured causing them to appear dirty looking, but it has been almost 100 years, nearly 4 times my life time. Geologically speaking, this is no time at all, but for a comic book to survive this long, in this condition, is astonishing.
Playtime was published by the Amalgamated Press and ran from 29th March 1919 until 12th October 1929. It was aimed at young children and is often refered to a nursery comic despite containing one “story full of adventure” per issue written in the style for an early teenager. The comic strips in each issue are kept within one or two pages each, getting the story across in four to eight panels.
There are numerous reoccurring characters including; Dolly and Billy Jumbo (who are elephants), Mrs. Kittekat (and her five kittens) and Scottie, Tim and Binkie (I’m not quite sure what these three boys are!)
A familiar character found in the Playtime comics is Micky Mouse. Unfortunately, not the mouse you are thinking of. Micky Mouse, without the ‘E’, appeared in Playtime comics from 1919 to 1928, followed by Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, with the ‘E’, who first appeared in the classic cartoon Steamboat Willie in 1928.
The acquisition method of these comics is unknown. Their Modes records are dated 2007 however it is also stated they were created during an Retrospective Documentation (RD) project, which is when objects already within the collection are documented. They had previously been involved in a temporary exhibit at Hat Works in 2002, but before this their provenance is unknown. Entry forms were implemented in 1982, so some records have little or no documentation with them. Entry forms are now required upon donation, taking note of the donor and various object information including their background. One can only assume they were donated before 1982.
It is a great shame there is no information regarding these objects as it would have been nice to know who they belonged to as their condition indicates they were very much loved, which is not hard to believe as even today they are still humorous, interesting and fun!