Remembered Reading

Memory, Comics and Post-War Constructions of British Girlhood

Mel Gibson

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Monograph - paperback

A reader’s history exploring girls’ comics
Girls’ comics were a major genre from the 1950s onwards in Britain and the most popular titles sold between 800,000 and a million copies a week. However, this genre was slowly replaced by magazines which now dominate publishing for girls. 'Remembered Reading' is a readers’ history which explores the genre, and memories of those comics, looking at how and why this rich history has been forgotten. The research is based around both analysis of what the titles contained and interviews with women about their childhood comic reading. In addition, it also looks at the other comic books that British girls engaged with, including humour comics and superhero titles. In doing so it looks at intersections of class, girlhood, and genre, and puts comic reading into historical, cultural, and educational context.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Chapter One. Picture This: Working with Readers, Comics and Memory
On Analysing, or rather, on Finding, Comics
Media and Cultural Studies and Audience Research
Audience, Class and Girls' Culture
Working with Readers
Working with Readers and Memory

Chapter Two. The Rise and Fall of the British Girls' Comic: The Comic and Post-war Constructions of Girlhood
Context: Periodical Publishers and Girlhood as a Cultural Construct
The Girl's Own Paper Before the Comic: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Periodicals for Girls
Girl and Others: The Start of the Girl's Comic
Roxy, Romance and Teenagers: Developing Comics for Young Adults
Bunty and Princess: New Comics for Younger Girls
Changing Markets: Tammy and the New Wave of Comics
Endgame: Photo-stories and Horror
Periodicals for Girls After the Comic
Chapter Three. Mediating the Text: Academics, Teachers, Librarians and Others
Comics and Criticism: Mass culture, media effects and moral panic
The Impact of Feminism
Perspectives on the Comic in Education and Librarianship since the 1990s
Media Studies, Cultural Studies and Other Disciplines
Children's Literature
History and Comics
Media and Cultural Studies
Media and Cultural Studies research on Girls' Comics
Chapter Four. The Readers' Tale: Girls Reading Girls' Comics
Remembering Girls' Comics
Remembering Narratives
Contextualising Girls' Comics
Parents and Comics
Class, Aspiration, Rebellion and Comics
Pleasure and Comics
The Comic as Marker

Chapter Five. You Can't Read Them, They're For Boys! Girls Reading Boys' and Mixed Gender Comics
Rejecting the Girls' Comic
Swapping Comics
Comics for Mixed Gender Audiences
Who are Humour Comics for? Remembering the 'Funnies'
Other Issues of Ownership: Educational Comics and Girls
One Step Beyond! Remembering Reading Comics for Boys
The Appeal of the 'Other '
Remembering Narratives
Rebellion, Gender and Identity
'Other' Comics and Feminism
Being a Fan


Appendix 1. A Note on Interviews with Children in Accounts of Reading in the 1960s

Appendix 2. Comics and Magazines Checklist
Comic and Magazine titles
Comics and Graphic novels
Specific Stories, Series & Characters in Girl's Comics


Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 230 × 170 mm

224 pages

ISBN: 9789462700307

Publication: June 30, 2015

Series: Studies in European Comics and Graphic Novels 3

Languages: English

Stock item number: 99598

Mel Gibson is a Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Northumbria University.

All in all, Remembered Reading tells a little-known story worth (re)telling: that of postwar British girls’ comics. It does so by combining academic accounts of girls’ comics and personal, “real-world” accounts. In all their respective limitations—which Gibson acknowledges, for instance, by pointing out that academic accounts are equally determined by their cultural moment (189) or by addressing issues related to working with readers and memory—both discourses fruitfully complement one another. They yield a more complete picture of what girls’ comics were and how they constructed girlhood, of how readers engaged with them, of how their reading was perceived by others, and of how they are remembered. At the same time, the book provides more general reflections on memories of reading and memory itself. All of this makes it a valuable read for people working in many fields, not just comics studies, gender studies, memory or popular literature. It is an illustration of how literary studies in general can benefit from taking audiences’ memories of actual reading into account. On top of that, Remembered Reading is written in a fluent language that is a pleasure to read, including some witty observations. Don’t take my word for it, just read Gibson’s book.
Van Gansen, Kristof (2017), Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature: Vol. 42: Iss. 1, Article 29.

  Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature

Remembered Reading is a remarkably informative work that produces knowledge in dynamic and original ways. By blending critical reflections with the voices of actual readers who bring key information regarding their own female identity to bear on the more abstract study of comics, Gibson makes a strong and original case for a new British history of cultural production as seen through the female experience and for a new canon of British comics that acknowledges the centrality of comics for women. Any future study of British comics after the Second World War will have to consider the materials and argument integrated into this important contribution to comics studies.
Ana Merino, European Comic Art Volume 9 Number 2, Autumn 2016: 100-;109


'Remembered Reading' is a masterful achievement on an underserved topic, supported by many years of research and varied approaches.
Margaret Galvan, City University of New York, Europe Now Journal, nov 2016


What is important about 'Remembered Reading' is that it is a readers' history which explores the genre, memories of these comics by female readers who had themselves often forgotten their commitment to girls' comics. [...] Her intent is not to present an alternative analysis of classic girls' comics but to explore in more depth the range of comics read by girls and the diversity of their reading practices. Gibson is interested in the memories and the lived experience of comics reading, and how that led to ideas of class and notions of self. [...] It is crucial to document this history of girls' comics as some of the pioneers have passed on.
Lim Cheng Tju, International Journal of Comic Art Vol 18 No 1 (Spring/Summer 2016)


Through 'a readers' history of comics', Remembered Reading not only invites readers and scholars to (re)discover the forgotten genre of British girls' comics, but also puts forward compelling new ways to think about the history and memory of the medium.
Benoît Crucifix, 'A Readers' History of Girls' Comics: A Review of Remembered Reading' (2016) 6(1): 5 The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, DOI: cg.78

To conclude: this is a very rich and inspiring book. [...] Comics studies are a lively field, but here is a book that will definitely help it to clear new ground.


In looking at how people talked and thought about girls comics in the past, and how people talk and think about them still, this book is a great review both of the memories of the former girl readers, and of the criticism -; often ill-informed or inadequate -; made of these comics.
Jenni Scott (comixminx),