Monday, 31 March 2008

Issue 1, Vol. 1 - 26th April 1894

Well, where better to start than at the beginning XD

Issue 1, Vol. 1
Published: 27/4/94
Price: ½d
Author(s): Paul Herring
Illustrator(s): Unknown
Main story: The Silver Arrow (Paul Herring)
Frank and Wallace Morton are Englishmen, but work on a ranch in Mexico. Wallace is in love with Hilda Darien, the daughter of a nearby rancher. One night he tells that she is not in fact his daughter, but that of a rich Spanish woman who had at some point married a rich English man. After he went exploring with her and was murdered she fell in with some indians, the tribe of the Silver Arrow, who live in an ancient city covered with silver and gold. She became thier queen and eventually gave birth to a daughter. Maurice Darien stumbled across the city and was taken prisoner, but the queen asked him to take her daughter away in the night. He did so but the chief of the tribe hunted him down and they fought, the chief being killed.
Five years later, the chief's son, Eagle Plume, rides to the ranch, beleiving his father to have been shot in the back by the "paleface", as he doesnt think any white man could have fought his father and lived. He kills Maurice Darien and, having felt guilty and learning the truth about his fathers death, kidnaps Hilda, holding her in a trance with the eyes of a snake wrapped around his arm.
Frank and Wallace set off in pursuit the next day, when they find Maurice dead, they also discover that a local bandit, Pedro, and his gang, have set off in pursuit. Pedro also wants to marry Hilda, and his gang want to loot the silver city. Wallace, Frank and the dead rancher's servant Manco set off after them. The track leads them through the territory of the Pampas Indians, a violent tribe who murder and rob travellers and settlements.
Escaping a fire set by the bandits, the heroes run into an "avenger", José, who's family had been killed by the Pampas indians some years before. They take refuge in a hut and fight a terrific battle with the indians, but eventually are captured. Witnessing the killing of the avenger, they don't hold out much hope for themselves. However thier execution is put off until the next day, and they are able to escape during the night. Rushing across the plains they enter the mountain range that leads to Silver City. Here Pedro and his gang topple a boulder, helpfully blocking the path to the plains and saving them from the indians. After that the quest continues into the mountains, with all the perils that await alongside tit-for-tat battles against the bandits. Eventually Pedro and his gang attempt to sail ahead in a raft but tumble over a waterfall.
At Silver City, Eagle Plume has fallen in love with Hilda, but she does not return his advances. Another indian, Pearl Feather, takes her out to see the hills filled with gold and silver mines, and treasure-filled caves, but Eagle Plume intercepts them. He and Pearl Feather fight, Eagle Plume being forced to retreat by the timely arrival of the three heroes. Returning to the city, they meet the white queen, however as they talk a rebellion started by Eagle Plume begins in the streets, but it is quashed and the rebel is bought to trial and commits suicide by allowing his own snake to bite him. However he propecies that the queen shall follow him within two days.
The queen does fall ill suddenly, and commands the chiefs of the tribe to allow Hilda and her friends to leave. They do so after she has passed away, taking proof of Hilda's real identity (she is the heir to a large fortune back in England) with them. The last chapter opens with Pedro and his companion, who survived the waterfall. They abseil down into a cave filled with treasure, Pedro murdering his companion to get more of the loot for himself. However a snake springs from the rock and poisons him, he drops from the rope and dies surrounded by gold.
Other stories: None
Notes: There are some suprisingly well-rounded characterisations of Native Americans for the time, though the Pampas Indians are your more commonly stereotyped "savages"
Being the first issue, this one makes it clear that the Union Jack is not a "penny dreadful". Taglines along the bottom of each page reminding readers of the day the paper comes out, and what is coming soon, where common in this period. One of these proclaims "You need not be ashamed to be seen reading the UNION JACK or the MARVEL, which is more than can be said of some story-books.". The Editorial later states "There will be nothing of the 'dreadful' type in our stories. No tales of boys rifling thier employers cash-boxes and making off to foreign lands, or such-like highly immoral fiction products."
The editorial goes on to say that thier aim is to "Publish a complete high-class novel every week for ½d" by not "spending money on first-class paper and cardboard covers". The UJ was of course to become known as "Sexton Blake's own Paper" in later years. But here they promise to "Cater for all tases, we shall print stories of travel in strange lands; Stories of Africa, Australia, America, India etc.; sea and detective tales, and in all of them bravery, mystery and adventure will pre-dominate". The editorial closes with all the optimism of Britain in the late Victorian age of empire: "May the 'Union Jack' reign in the hearts of our readers, even as the flag from which we take our name rules the world."

Friday, 28 March 2008


Hello, this is yet another addition to the list of British comic/storypaper related blogs - The Union Jack Index! I aim to chronicle the stories published in the venerable Union Jack storypaper, from 1894 up to it's death in 1933. For most of it's life if featured tales of the detective Sexton Blake, but in the early days contained numerous Boys' Own adventure yarns.

My collection of UJ's is far from complete, so the blog is likely to be rather out of order as i jump around the collection (i do have the first 25 issues in a volume though). I'm also a student so can't really afford to buy loads and loads of antique books until later in life. I'm also none too familiar with the blog software, so we'll have to see how it goes.

Most of these "comic index" things simply give you lists of the titles of the main story... and that's it. I however plan to post overviews/reviews of all the stories i can read, information on the serials contained and even interesting information from the editorial page (one early issue mentions the OPENING of Tower Bridge!)

I also self-publish my own comic called "The Red, White & Blue" which i see as an (unworthy, but nobody else is doing it) sucessor to the UJ in a way, some posts will contain information on that, though for most things about it, go to