One the most missed of publishing traditions in this country is the educational comic. From the features in the legendary Eagle to the small explosion of factual and socially responsible boys and girls papers in the late 1950s to the heady go-getting heydays of the 1960s and 1970 Britain had a healthy sub-culture of comics that informed, instructed and revealed – and don’t even get me started on sports comics!
Amongst many others Speed & Power, World of Wonder, Tell Me Why, and the greatest of them all Look and Learn spent decades making things clear and brought the marvels of the world to our childish but avid attentions with wit, style and thanks to the quality of the illustrators involved, astonishing beauty.
Look and Learn launched on 20th January 1962, the brainchild of Fleetway Publications Director of Juvenile Publications Leonard Matthews, and executed by Editor David Stone (almost instantly replaced by John Sanders), Sub-Editor Freddie Lidstone and Art Director Jack Parker.
For twenty years and 1049 issues the comic delighted children by bringing the marvels of the universe to their doors, and was one of the county’s most popular children’s weeklies. Naturally there were many spin-off tomes such as The Look and Learn Book of 1001 Questions and Answers, Look and Learn Book of Wonders of Nature, Look and Learn Book of Pets and Look and Learn Young Scientist as well as the totally engrossing Christmas treat The Look and Learn Book.
Selected simply because it was nearest to my grasping hand, this volume released for Christmas 1973 (as with almost all UK Annuals they were forward-dated) is a prime example of a lost form. Within this132 heavy-stock paged hard-back are 40 fascinating features on all aspects of human endeavour and natural wonder from Strange Creatures of the East, Birds in Legend, Arctic Trawler, Caves of Adventure, Petticoat Pirates, Arabian Nights Railway, Head-Hunters of Borneo, Unknown but Well-known and dozens more articles cannily designed to beguile, enthrall and above all else, inspire young minds.
Illustrated with photographs, diagrams and paintings and drawings by some of the world’s greatest commercial artists including such luminaries as Ron Embleton, Helen Haywood, Ron Turner, Ken Evans, Angus McBride and many others, these books were an utter delight for hungry minds to devour whilst the turkey and Christmas pudding slowly digested…
With the internet and TV I suppose their like is unnecessary and irrelevant, but nostalgia aside the glorious pictures in these volumes alone make them worth the effort of acquisition, and I defy any child of any age to not be sucked into the magic of learning this lovely…
Whilst researching this book review (mostly sitting comfortably and flicking through gigantic piles of beloved, worn books and comics, submerged in the totally unique smell of old and hallowed paper – interspersed with the occasional dabble with the old search engine) I came across this delightful open site and commend it to your attention if you’re at all interested in the subject.
© 1973 IPC Magazines, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.