Follow TV Tropes


British Comics

Go To
Clockwise from top right: Hilda, Commando Comics, The Beano (Specifically, Dennis the Menace (UK)), 2000 AD

British comics, as the name suggests, are comics that originate from Britain. British comics are usually Anthology Comics and often have annuals printed once a year in time for Christmas (or at least they used to), likewise summer specials printed in time for the summer holidays. British comics evolved out of story papers with a number of story papers switching to comics. The earliest British comics, such as Comic Cuts, began in the 1890s and these slowly evolved into the modern anthology comic, which in the early days would feature humourous and adventurous stories. Because of their story paper roots, they also featured text stories. The oldest British Comic which survives to this day is The Beano which began in 1938. The Dandy, from the same publisher, had previously held the record for longest runner, having launched eight months earlier, but it closed in December 2012.

There are four main genres of British comics. It should be noted that as many British Comics are anthologies, different strips in a comic were often different genres up until about the 1970s. Since then, the remaining major comics tend to be defined by genre.

Perhaps the biggest and most popular (and certainly the most visible) is the British humour comic. The two pinnacles of the genre are childhood staples The Beano and The Dandy. There used to be many more, but sales decreased over the years and many of them merged or became defunct around The '90s: some of the most popular characters from these discontinued comics migrated to The Beano or The Dandy. They generally emphasise dynamic movement and cartoonish exaggeration, similar to France's Marcinelle school. The humour comic genre is probably the most historically popular genre, though as of 2016, only The Beano still publishes regular issues (The Dandy is also still published, but only in annual form).

There is also what might broadly be termed "adventure comics", which are quite different to their American equivalents. Instead of the particular history that led to a market dominated by superhero stories, British comics readers read a lot of war, sci-fi or football stories, as well as some uniquely British oddball "superheroes", often more violent, more ambiguous or just plain more sinister than their mainstream American counterparts. The two highest-profile comics in this genre today are 2000 AD and Commando Comics. In certain ways, such as their darker subject matter and their manner of serialization, these British comics have more in common with Japanese manga than they do with American comic books.

The girls' equivalent of this (the British equivalent of Shoujo manga) would often feature sports- or ballet-themed stories and school settings, although they would often include an element of fantasy or science fiction. Typical examples would be Girl, Bunty, Mandy and Tammy. In the 1970s genre aspects became more explicit with the appearance of overtly themed titles such as Misty (supernatural and horror), Jinty (SF), and Spellbound (fantasy and SF). Immensely popular in their day — according to Pat Mills, Tammy outsold 2000 AD by 30,000 copies a week — but as newsstand comics declined, girls' titles merged, with surviving titles morphing into teen magazines, dropping comic strips as they did so.

There are also comics aimed at the very young children. Most of these comics are now based off licensed properties but back in the 70s and earlier this genre did not rely on them. An example of this genre would be the now seemingly oddly titled Bimbo.

Notable British comics:

Notable Comic strips from British Comics:

Notable British newspaper comic strips

British Comics publishers

The following creators have their own pages:

British Comic Tropes: