Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Gerald G. Swan Ltd. was one of the most successful wartime paperback publishers in England, mainly because he had stockpiled his paper and had an abundant amount during war rationing.   His magazines relied on a few British "talents," most of whom were not very good writers, and U.S. reprints of stories published by Columbia Magazines.  A few of the novels the company published are actively sought out by collectors.  One author in their stable was Elleston Trevor, who went on to write the Quiller thrillers as "Adam Hall;" Trevor wrote a number of school stories for boys and school stories for girls for Swan.  Of the 49 separate comic book titles Swan published in the 40s and 50s (a total of 537 issues), some were reprints of American comics (notably Archie) while others covered the gamut from western to war to superhero to love.

As far as I can tell Swan's Kiddy Fun Album ran for six annual issues, from 1947 to 1955 -- skipping 1947.  Aim at the youngest of comic book readers, each issue had short -- one page or less -- stories of talking animals, fairies, and cute kids, with simple words for the not-quite beginning reader.  Words of two syllables were printed with hyphens to make it easier for readers to sound them out.

Among the many characters are Pip the Pixie, Willie Whiskers, Tiger Ted, Bunny, Monty Mouse, Charlie Chimp, Billy Goat, Pimple the Pup, Tiny Tim, Wizzy the Wizard, Pop Corn, Little Pussy Boy, Jungle Jim, and Gyp the Gnome, ad nauseum.  Some of the more questionable characters include Sambo (a stereotypical Black), Golly (ditto), Snowball (ditto again), Darkie (yet another ditto), various little native boys (the return of ditto), Hee-Hee the Cheery Chinee, Tich an Arab (? or maybe Indian?) boy whose curved pointed shoes seem just a little smaller than those of British music hall comedian Little Tich), Wig and Wam and Little Elk (American Indian boys), and Ben-Ana the Little Hindoo.  Curiously, the Blacks look remarkably like the monkeys drawn in this book.  For some, I assume, the British Empire never shrank.

The stories are not very funny.  Some characters and actions are offensive.  The artwork is so-so.

Interesting for a look at how some British publications view what would entertain young children in the late 40s.


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