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Playhour cover

Issue 58, 1955, art by Philip Mendoza

Playhour (called Playhour Pictures for the first 32 issues) was a weekly comic for younger children published by Amalgamated Press, later Fleetway and IPC, between 16 October 1954 and 15 August 1987, a run of approximately 1,700 weekly issues. Over the course of its run it absorbed Harold Hare's Own Paper (1954), Tiny Tots (1959), TV Toyland (1967), Robin (1969) Hey Diddle Diddle (1973), Fun to Do (1982), and Chips Comic (1983).

It was originally intended as a companion paper to Jack and Jill, but for slightly older readers. The lead strip in its early days was "Prince, the Wonder Dog of the Golden West", drawn by Sep E. Scott. With issue 32 (21 May 1955) it lowered its target age-group and introduced comic strips based on A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, both drawn by Peter Woolcock.

1956 saw the arrival of "Sonny and Sally of Happy Valley", two children and their pet lamb, drawn by Hugh McNeill. Like most strips in Playhour, it didn't use speech balloons, but stuck to the older style of illustrations with narrative underneath, originally in rhyming couplets, but by the 1970s prose. Sonny and Sally became the editorial figurehead of the comic until it closed in 1987, and children writing letters to the editorial address would receive replies signed by them.

Playhour contained a mixture of original tales for young children and adaptations of well known fairy tales (drawn by Nadir Quinto, Ron Embleton, Jesus Blasco and others). Some of the long-running characters include:

Artists who worked on these and other strips included Basil Reynolds, H. M. Talintyre, Ron Nielsen, Walter Bell, Fred Robinson, Fred Holmes, Philip Mendoza, Fred White, Harry Pettit, Harold McReady, Douglas Turnbull, Eric Stephens, Tom Kerr, Geoff Squire, Bert Felstead, Gordon Hutchings, Tony Hutchings, Roger Hutchings, Barbara C. Freeman, Rene Cloke, Henry Seabright, Virginio Livraghi, Ferguson Dewar, Leslie Branton, Geoff Campion and Arthur Baker.

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