I love comics. I grew up on a steady stream of comic heaven and invention with such titles as Whizzer and Chips, Shiver and Shake, Beano, The Dandy, Topper, Cheeky and assorted other imagination packed tomes of information popped through my letterbox on a weekly basis.
Looking back it was a golden era, little did I know that I was also witness to the demise of the same industry not too many years later. Just like the comedians of old, along came a new brush, a more cruel brush some would say to sweep away all the innocence and replace it with a more confrontational aggressive replacement.
Just as the comedians suffered under the new wave of british comedy in the mid to late eighties as household names became relegated to the bottom of the pile and regarded as old fashioned outdated styles so did the printed comics of my childhood as they gradually became replaced by adult orientated versions that still bore an uncanny resemblance to many of my childhood favourites. You can see from the above picture you are probably familiar with Viz but for a brief period many new comics fought it out for domination. Gas, Filth, Shuttlecock and many others competed to bring us as much adult humour as we could contend with. Needless to say it all ended rather messily.
First the traditional children comics were already suffering as children’s pocket money found new avenues to explore such as pocket money computer games, new fun products aimed at children through new avenues of licensing and of course the toy industry which was in full swing by the mid eighties after a slowish start in the seventies. The children of this era had grown up with comics, now comics had grown up with them so habits gained in childhood fuelled this new trend for adult comics almost without hesitation.
It was a sad time, comic after comic publisher perished until all that was left was a few Beano’s and Dandys, memories and whole lot of new glossy comics taken from the latest craze to licence cartoon and television programs in a mish mash of magazine style. Meanwhile the trend for adult comics flourished and went on to trigger magazines such as Nuts and other semi-top shelf fare.
Why am I writing this? Well, I just unearthed a few of these in the middle of a bunch of traditional comics and had a flick through them and my, they were crass. I remember Korky The Kat, Desperate Dan, Dennis The Menace, lovely play on words accompanied by well executed cartoons skillfully drawn, interspersed with occasional additional characters such as Tinribs and the like. But how many of you remember Vinnie Gough The Master Of Boff I wonder with his spew laden comic strip, or how about Terry Bullpuns – He Slags Off Peoples Mums, see what I mean? Imagination went out of the window, instead came shock and awe, a tactic that unfortunately continues to this day.
Comics will never be the same again but if you are passing a second hand store, a charity shop, or even a car boot sale and you spy one of these forgotten children’s comics and never read one before do yourself a favour. Buy it to save it, read it, understand the time it came from and maybe, just maybe you will learn to miss it too.