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The Knockout and Valiant.
The Knockout was first published by the Amalgamated press on 4th March 1939. The Magnet was incorporated on 25th May 1940 and the publication was renamed "Knockout Comic and Magnet". The Knockout was eventually amalgamated with the Valiant on 16th Feb 1963 after 1251 issues. Billy Bunter was a feature of the Knockout for most of that time but was reduced to a slapstick comic feature which may have appealed to the younger reader but had no appeal to readers who remembered Greyfriars from the Golden age of the Magnet. The Knockout Fun Book was the companion paper to the Knockout and was published annually.
Steve Holland has published an excellent article on the Knockout in his 'After the Magnet' website. You can read it here.
Bill Lofts and Derek Adley published a booklet on Hamilton's work after the Magnet ceased publication in 1940. There is an interesting article on the Knockout on P11-18. You can read the booklet here.
Billy Bunter in the Knockout.
Chapman was the artist behind a trial of Bunter picture stories for the Magnet in 1939 and it was felt that this would be a good idea to try this format in the new publication 'The Knockout'. Readers of the Knockout were encouraged to read the Magnet and vice versa. The initial picture stories were drawn by Chapman and were based on authentic Greyfriars incidents that readers of the Magnet would recognise. However Chapman couldn't keep up with the workload and a new artist was sought after the first few issues. Chapman drew issues 1-5 and 7-9. The artist responsible for issues 6 & 10 is not known. George Gillingham drew issue 11. Frank Minnit then took over and was asked to produce a two page Bunter strip every week. Initially he emulated Chapman but over a period of time the strips became more slapstick and by 1942 The Co had been made redundant and most of the stories featured Bunter, Quelch and Jones Minor, a character that had never appeared in any Frank Richards story. These strips held no appeal to the traditional Magnet reader but the Knockout was a success with young readers and within a year it was selling more copies than the Magnet had ever sold. Minnit drew the comic strip for the next 18 years until shortly before his death after a short illness in 1958.
A number of artists kept Bunter alive and in 1961 Bunter started to appear on the front page. The Knockout was renamed Billy Bunter's Knockout but his front page status was short lived and in July 1962 after a revamp he was banished to the inside pages. In Feb 1963 the Knockout merged with the Valiant and Bunter continued to appear until the Valiant folded in 1976.
You can see some of the early comic strips by clicking on the links below.
Knockout 009 Knockout 010 Knockout 011 Knockout 012 Knockout 013 Knockout 014 Knockout 015 Knockout 016
Rookwood in the Knockout
In 1960 the policy of the Knockout changed to increase the amount of reading matter and reduce the amount of pictures in the paper. The Editor opted for Rookwood and reprints of the early Boys Friend stories began in September of that year. In his "Let's be controversial" column in the October 1960 issue of the Collectors Digest Eric Fayne discusses the return of Rookwood. You can read the article on page 308 here.
The stories continued for about 14 months before being dropped as the Editor of the Knockout didn't believe the series was popular with the younger readers. A letter explaining his reasons for discontinuing the stories was printed in the December 1961 issue of the Collectors Digest. You can read it here on page 9. The issue dated 30th September 1961 seems to have the last story Rookwood despite confidently announcing Rookwood would be back the following week. The issue dated 7th September is 4 pages smaller and both Rookwood and a another serial have been dropped leaving the Knockout purely a comic.
Thanks to the scanners from the Scanarama group a few issues are available for download from the links below-
knockout 1135 knockout 1136 knockout 1143 knockout 1151 Knockout 1160 Knockout 1162 Knockout 1165 Knockout 1179 Knockout 1180
A few issues of the Knockout are available for download in full. I'm not sure of the origin of these scans but I was alerted to them via members of the Yahoo Scanarama group. My thanks go to the scanners.
Knockout 3rd January 1953 Knockout 7th October 1961 Knockout 1st December 1962
In Feb 1963 the Knockout merged with the Valiant and Bunter continued to appear until the Valiant folded in 1976. A few issues containing only the Bunter strips are available for download from the links below, again courtesy of the Yahoo Scanarama group.
Valiant 13th July 1963 Valiant 31st December 1966 Valiant 7th June 1969 Valiant 8th May 1976 Valiant 15th May 1976