chapter  10
‘For the benefit of old boys, young boys, odd boys generally, and even girls’
The irresistible rise of the British comic, 1884–1900
ByRobert Shail
Pages 13

This chapter introduces readers to the early history of British comics. It also shows how comics drew on trends in popular print media such as book illustration and satirical cartoons which provide the cultural environment from which the comic could emerge. In British Comics: A Cultural History, James Chapman suggests that the early history of comics is not so much a matter of various firsts' as an evolutionary process in which the conventions of the medium took shape across a number of publications. If the comics rapidly altered their readership towards children as the new century dawned, perhaps recognising something of the same anti-authoritarian and anarchic tendencies in the young, then for a period at the end of the nineteenth century, they spoke directly to an adult working-class audience who found both enjoyment and a form of rebellion in their populist pages.