As we have now managed to get through the festive season with a minimum of death and destruction, I am now at the point where I can begin to record what comics I do have and which ones I don’t. And to do that, I am using a spreadsheet program as that is the simplest way that I have found to record what comics we have and don’t have. The other bonus to that is that I can use it to record the value of our collection which is always useful when it comes to renewing the house insurance as very few insurers believe that a bunch of old comics could be worth so much!
I have spent ages in going through the Commando collection and recording those that I owned as I believed that I had over 2,500 of the blighters. To find out I was right but that figure included over 500 doubles was rather frustrating!
So my next move is to record the few Wizard story papers that I have and I thought that this would be fairly easy as I have a starting date of 23rd September 1922, a confirmed number of issues which was 1,970 and an end date of 16th November 1963.
You can imagine my surprise and intrigue when I entered the numbers in the first column, the dates of weekly publication into the second column and allowed Excel to do the work for me after I entered the first four weekly publication dates and I found that I was out by a good three and a bit years.
The first thing that I had not taken into account was that from the war years, paper rationing had been in effect and as a result, Wizard was published on a fortnightly basis as it had alternated with the Hotspur. It took a bit of digging but the date that this started for the Wizard was 27th September 1941 as that was the first week for the Wizard to miss its’ weekly issue due to paper rationing beginning to cut what paper was available for commercial use in Britain.
This fortnightly cycle continued well past the end of the war up to the end of October 1946 (paper rationing was still in effect up to the early 1950s so the end of the war did not immediately herald a return to normality). However, with the publication of issue 1115 dated 9th November 1946, the publication cycle went to publishing 3 out of every four weeks. This was not a solid publication cycle as it could be weeks 1, 2 and 3 or 1, 3 and 4. Thankfully, this settled down to a rock solid of published 3 weeks miss a week by issue 1128 dated 29th March 1947. Perhaps the renowned bad winter of 1947 had a hand in this publication cycle as 40 years on in the 1980s and 1990s my father would still speak of how bad the winter of 1947 was.
This 3 out of 4 publication cycle eventually came to an end with issue 1188 dated 11th October 1948 and the Wizard would go on to be published on a weekly basis for the next 15 years when it was merged with The Rover.
However, I still had a problem as I still could not get my dates to match up between issue 1 and 981 as by my count issue 981 should have been dated 5th July 1941 which was a good two months before the date it was released. This was where I really needed help and I have been fortunate to get some help from some of the scanning community (and that is a topic for another day) on this matter. Thanks to them, I had discovered that there were three anomalies that I had not taken into account.
The first two anomalies were a very strange mix-up with issue 424 as there was an issue published with a cover date of 17th January 1931 and there was an issue published the following week with the same issue number but dated 24th January 1931. This was resolved by skipping the use of 430 for the issue dated 7th March 1931 and calling that issue 431. This fixed the numbering but did not really change the dates.
The third anomaly is one that I should have recalled as it cemented D C Thomson’s distrust of the unions. He had deliberately paid the printers an inflation busting increase early in 1926 so that they would not join in any strike. When the printers had walked out during the 1926 General Strike, it made D C Thomson more anti-union. (I have read this somewhere before and I need to find it again) This resulted in the Wizard missing 11 weeks in 1926 and it explained the anomaly that I had with issue 981.
The effect of strikes on comic issue numbers has been discussed at length over on Comics UK and it makes for fascinating reading. Here is the discussion on the effects that different strikes had on Scream, Whoopee and June. There are plenty of other examples, but for myself, I was thankful that the output of D C Thomson was undisturbed during the 1970s so that I got my weekly comic fix.
Apologies for the wall of text, but hopefully, you should find it an interesting topic.