The magazine, Punch, caught my eye when I heard about it in class. I didn’t find many short stories in it, after browsing through a few volumes, but I am still interested in knowing what kind of history this particular magazine has.
Punch began in July of 1841. The founders were Ebenezer Landells and Henry Mayhew. They started this particular magazine to introduce the public to a better standard of comic publications. Contrary to my original thought, the name refers to punch, the beverage and not punch, the violent action. It is supposed to suggest that the magazine has a good mixture, just like a good punch. At first, the magazine was off to a rocky start. They weren’t selling many copies, and it almost went bankrupt. Eventually, Punch began producing annual editions, called Almanacks. These special copies boosted sales and Punch became more successful than ever before.
Punch prided itself with constantly staying in tune with the times. It is perhaps the reason is stayed relevant throughout the Victorian Era and beyond. It never got comfortable. When the times are more conservative, the magazine played a conservative part. On the other hand, when politics created a more radical period, the magazine became more radical. It published whatever stories the readers at the time wanted and provided comic relief while doing it. As a result of all this, Punch became synonymous with British culture. Punch lasted over 160 years, switching owners a few times, before finally closing in 2002.
The interesting thing about flipping through Punch is that there is a picture on almost every page. It was one of the goals set by the founders of the magazine. Many are comics that poke fun of the current political situation or public figures. The volume I looked at is an Almanack. Therefore, every page contains miscellaneous things. There is poetry, comic strips, short stories, train schedules and a lot more jumbled onto the pages. It is certainly difficult for modern readers to grasp because there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. Though I doubt I will pick it to find my short story, I do admire what Punch did. It continually transitioned itself to fit the reader and as a result, lasted a great deal longer than many of the other publications we discussed in class.
N.P. History of Punch. Punch Limited, 2010. Web. 22 February 2011.