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British Comics of My Childhood, Our Very Own Magazines

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

We Loved The Characters As Well As The Comics

2012 set of British stamps remembering children’s classic comics

2012 set of British stamps remembering children’s classic comics

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Weekly Comics were a big thing when I was a child.

Television viewing was only available in black and white, there were no home computers, tech gadgets, videos and D.V.D.s and not every home even owned a TV set.

The era was post WWII England and children entertained themselves very differently to kids of today.

Playing outside was the norm back then and we kids would roam the neighbourhood streets playing ball games, tag, skipping, hopscotch and more.

We even played on “bombies” which were areas of our streets that had felt the wrath of Hitler and the Luftwaffe during the Blitz of our city.

Times may have been tough but childhood is childhood.

When we did return home after “playing out” one of most children's favourite pastimes was reading their weekly comics.

Most of these publications are long gone but the memories linger on.

Watching Hubby cheer on Tottenham Hotspur football team lately, as he told me he likes that team because they remind him of his favourite childhood comic, The Hotspur, reinforced this view.

So here is a glimpse of a few of my favourite childhood comics which were so much of the time.

Bunty

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. Presumably though the content moved with the times.

When I was a kid Bunty made for rather reserved reading

Bunty was a comic for girls. Back then we often had comics specifically for girls or for boys.

Bunty had comic strips made into short stories and there were regular features and ardent fans would read these with fervour.

The Four Marys was 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 posh 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

Judy ran from 1960 until 1991 and was was also a comic for girls.

I wonder how many little boys sneaked a look at their sister's comic though? After all I would read my brother's comics when he was not around.

Looking at the images makes me realise just how times have changed and how old I am becoming.

The content, as shown simply by the front covers, appears other worldly and from the ancient past.

In many ways Judy was similar to Bunty but it was less out of touch with ordinary girls and in some ways more modern but the format was still pretty much the same.

There were other comics such as Debbie and Jackie, some aimed more at that new phenomenon The Teenager, but these two were my favourites.

The Beano

The Beano was read by 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 begun life in 1938 and 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 Snooty and his chums were definitely out of place with kids like me!

The Dandy

The Dandy went 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 but The Dandy changed that.

Favourite characters of mine were Desperate Dan and my heroine Beryl the Peril whose name explains it all.

Memories

All of these comics played a large part in my childhood. They were read by the light of a torch in bed and under the blankets after the lights were out. Most 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 also 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, and were designed as throwaways.

Comics were 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?

Looking back it is strange how parts of one's own life become history

Those of you still young or with young children consider collecting some of the comics and trivia of today for the future.

Ideally items will need storing in pristine fashion that means including any packaging.

But even if you just keep a well used and well loved childhood item it will be great for sharing with your family and reminiscing.

You may not make a financial fortune but you may have a wealth of memories.

The Dandy Goes Digital

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Ethel Smith

Comments

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on May 25, 2010:

Oo you liked gruesome ones Habee. I was a wimp

Holle Abee from Georgia on May 24, 2010:

Great read! Of course, my pals and I had comic books. We liked Tales from the Crypt and Archie.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on April 27, 2010:

Thanx for the visits Polly and Love. Memories are such fun

Loveofnigjht Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on April 26, 2010:

this hub sets me on the path of memory lane......thx

Polly C from UK on April 26, 2010:

My first comic was Bunty, it used to arrive every Saturday morning delivered with the newspaper and I always woke up early anticpating it. I can't remember when I first started getting it, maybe around 1980 or thereabouts.

My nine year old son is completely obsessed with the Beano. He gets it every week without fail and he keeps them all and often re-reads them. Probably you know that last year Beano and Dandy celebrated 70 years - it's amazing to think that it started out in 1939 and is still going strong!

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on April 26, 2010:

Behave yourself hh lol

Hello, hello, from London, UK on April 26, 2010:

Here, ethel, I can rob a bank and claim on a deprived childhood, no comics, and get free. How about that? I'll share it with you because you made me realize hahaha

billyaustindillon on April 25, 2010:

I remember Beano growing up Ethel - good memories thanks:) I need to check out the others as I am big comic fan.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on April 25, 2010:

Poor you hh. :) Thanks for the visit

Hello, hello, from London, UK on April 25, 2010:

What a trip down memory lane and I missed it all. At home I don't think there were any in those days and when I came here, I was too old. Talk about deprived childhood. hahaha Thank you for a lovely written hub.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on April 25, 2010:

BK creative you were robbed then. Fancy not having your own comics lol

I shalll have to check out Walton Street Wayne. Have not visited for ages.

Thanks wolfpack

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on April 25, 2010:

How interesting that you would have comics featuring females - I can't recall much of that in the US - females were usually part of a group but not starring.

I'm such a big comics and comic book fan. We grew up on comics here in New York City - in fact that is what sold most newspapers back in the 50s. Loved it! Alas, the newspapers have cut the sizes of the strips so much they are hard to read and it ruins them visually. Well, I'll just have to do my own!

Thanks for hipping me to what else was out there. I'd love to read these.

wolfpack5 from Alberta Canada on April 25, 2010:

Good morning my friend, great hub once again. it would be nice to have some old comics to read. :)

Have a great day my friend...

Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on April 25, 2010:

Comics of all shapes and sizes never really change, except now they are highly priced with quality computer colouring, but you can still get the Beano and The Dandy which I used to get many years ago with the small mini comics back in the 80's, I had stacks of them!

Nice to hear about the other comics of yesteryear, I've often seen numerous Bunty and Judy annuals at the Walton Street market, sometimes it's worth picking some up and seeing how much you can sell them for on ebay!