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British comics of my childhood, Our very own magazines
Hubby's favourite comic, The Hotspur, in Annual form
Reading Wayne's Hub about his favourite comic set the old brain in motion. Weekly Comics were a big thing when I was a child. With TV viewing being only in black and white, no computers, no videos, no DVDs, not every home owning a TV set and the era being post second world war England children entertained themselves very differently to kids of today.
Playing outside was the norm back then and we kids would roam the streets playing ball games, tag, skipping, hopscotch and more. When we did return home one of most children's favourite pastimes was reading their favourite comics.
Most of these are long gone but the memories linger on. Watching Hubby cheer on Tottenham Hotspur football team lately, as he told me he likes them because they reminded him of his favourite childhood comic, The Hotspur, reinforced this.
So here is a glimpse of a few of my favourite childhood comics which were so much of the day.
Front covers from my childhood
I was surprised to read that Bunty carried on being published until 2001. It was first published in 1958 and looking back seems so very 1950s and 60s. I suppose though that the content will have moved with the times.
When I was a kid Bunty made for rather reserved reading.
Bunty was a comic for girls. It had comic strips made into short stories. There were regular features and ardent fans would read these with fervour. The Four Marys was the Bunty's memorable long standing story when I was young. It was an ongoing tale about four girls called Mary. They all attended a Boarding School and were rather snotty I guess. That did not stop me loving the Four Marys though. I may have played on bomb sites and lived a normal working class life but the irony of reading The Four Marys was wasted on me.
Judy ran from 1960 until 1991. It was also a comic for girls. I wonder how many little boys sneaked a look in their sister's comic? After all I would read my brother's comics when he was not around.
Looking at the images to the right makes me realise just how times have changed and how old I am becoming. The content, as shown simply by the front covers, appears almost from another world.
In many ways Judy was similar to Bunty but it was less out of touch with ordinary girls and in some ways more modern. The format was still pretty much the same. There were other comics such as Debbie but these two were my favourites.
The Beano was, to my mind, suitable for girls or boys. It was not girly in any way but neither was it overtly rough and tumble. The Beano's classic comic strip stories were often funny and featured regular favourites such as Dennis The Menace and Minnie The Minx. The Beano had begun life in 1938 and already by the time we were buying it, in the late fifties, had already changed some of its characters. The Beano and The Dandy were classless comics although Lord Snotty and his Chums were definitely out of place with kids like me.
The Dandy had gone into print in 1937 and was to set the standard for future children's comics. Until it was printed, children's comics had been much like the newspapers of the day. They were large broadsheets with very little colour. The Dandy changed all this.
Favourite characters of mine were Desperate Dan and my heroine Beryl the Peril. I guess her name explains it all. The Dandy is, I think, still in publication.
All of these comics played a large part in my childhood. They were read with a torch under the blankets after the lights were out. After all children went to bed very early back then.
These comics amused and entertained and were often re-read over and over again. All were weekly issues and I suppose cost us a small fortune from our pocket money.
They often had free gifts with them and these were sometimes a great reason for buying a particular comic. At the time breakfast cereals often had free children's gifts included and we would love to see what was on offer.
- Toy submarines that needed to be filled with Mum's baking soda in order to make them sink to the bottom of the bath.
- A stiff paper cracker that when flicked would make a loud crack and ensure that the victim jumped sky high.
- Small toy plastic animals that could be collected over the weeks.
- Skipping ropes.
- Extremely bouncy tiny balls.
And so much more.
As with all of these paper comics few of the originals and their free gifts have survived. Those that have can often be sold for a good profit. When you think, these comics in the late fifties and early sixties only cost pence, and old pence at that.
They were often swapped between friends and siblings so there is little wonder that few have survived.
At certain times of the year extra special offerings were available. A summer special featuring The Dandy and Beano together in print will be a rare find these days. Each Christmas Bunty, Judy, Beano and Dandy all had an Annual published which was a hard backed book. The content was much the same as the comics though. Why change a winning formula?