Retro Comics - The Skipper

Recently, I have been editing the wiki like a woman possessed, and I have uncovered more than one hidden British gem tucked away in the quieter, more neglected areas of CV. But there is one that caught my attention in particular, and it has tickled me so much I just have to write about it.

The Skipper.

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Skipper is a British comic that was published in the UK by DC Thomson (better known for titles such as Beano and Dandy), and was first released in 1930. It is very much of its time. Skipper was a boys comic featuring lots of MEN doing incredibly MANLY things - except this is 1930's Britain, so for "manly", read "fantastically ridiculous and over the top". Bond style. Want to see a man straddling a plane in mid air while he saws through it? You want Skipper. Want to see a kangaroo punch a bear right in the face? SKIPPER.

I mentioned the monkey is also Sheriff, right? Seems important O_O
I mentioned the monkey is also Sheriff, right? Seems important O_O

The comic delivers all this without a hint of irony, and then some. In fact, during its run Skipper gained a fair amount of notoriety thanks to its infamous covers, which often depicted scenes of violence. When the protagonists aren't wrestling, playing some form of competitive sport, shooting, scalping or torturing each other (or leaping from things that are on fire), they fight lions, tigers, alligators and bears. Yes, you have the occasional "soft story" - usually involving something along the lines of a schoolboy who accidentally thwarts an attempted robbery, or a monkey being duped by a charlatan fortune teller into paying for a bogus fortune (see right) - but even these are a reminder of how different the world of comics really used to be.

Even the recurring characters, such as Red Rock Baxter the cowboy, Captain Zoom, and Big Bad Wolfe, are of another world, almost. About as stereotypically male as you can get, the heroes of Skipper know no fear, and do not flinch in the face of danger - be it from the Nazis, the local natives, or giant butterflies with an appetite for human destruction.

Of course, there are certain reminders here of why the world has moved on so much. In particular, the depictions of people of other races is arguably offensive at times. But there is a sort of cultural naivety here, an innocence within the melodrama. Every issue is like a tiny action film. Yes, it's cheesy. Yes, its dated. But somehow it is all the more entertaining for it.

I would never make an argument that Skipper was the best comic in the world. But what I loved about it is that it acts as a charming little time capsule, a window into another time. And if you ever want to see a grown man chokeslam a tiger, there are far worse places to look than this.

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