The familiar British weekly comic magazine of today, usually comprising some thirty-two pages of strip cartoons, most in colour, some in black and white, can trace its ancestry back to an experiment produced for Christmas 1874, and forty years further back to a four-page annual edition dated 1831. And the regular comic characters can trace themselves back to a one-off experimental strip designed with no more ambition than to fill a page in a weekly humour magazine published in the summer of 1867. Both these casual (at the time) events took place long enough ago to secure Britain’s claim as founder of the feast of fun that fills the world with laughter.