20 May 2013
As The Beano celebrates 75 years of making the nation's kids laugh, Scottish Memories editor Matt Hill remembers his love of the comic as he was growing up… ...
As The Beano celebrates 75 years of making the nation's kids laugh, Scottish Memories editor Matt Hill remembers his love of the comic as he was growing up…
I remember the shiver of excitement when The Beano dropped through our letterbox each week. In those frantic minutes before school I was able to leaf through the latest comic and see what was in store for me later. No doubt Dennis was up to his old tricks and Lord Snooty was having great fun with his pals, but I'd have to wait until home time…
Of course, I read other comics too, The Dandy, Whizzer and Chips and Whoopee! occasionally found their way into my untidy collection, but there was something about The Beano that made it extra special. Put simply, it was the characters; they were in a league of their own.
I loved the silly but still funny jokes of The Bash Street Kids, the pranks carried out by Minnie the Minx (now, as a father, I feel a little sorry for her long-suffering dad) and the sneaky cunning of Roger the Dodger. Ball Boy was another favourite, the football-mad lad might have lacked the determined heroics of Roy of the Rovers but he and his bedraggled team-mates were definitely having more fun. It's reassuring to know that these characters are still making kids laugh all these years later.
Ball Boy lacked the determined heroics of Roy of the Rovers but he was definitely having more fun!
First published in July, 1938, by Dundee firm DC Thomson & Co, the comic soon became a favourite with children across Britain, and it was even read further afield with copies being sent to all corners of the British Empire. Generations passed but The Beano remained as popular as ever.
For me, the weekly comic wasn't quite enough. School jumble sales gave me the chance to invest in older copies. I vividly remember walking home with Beano back issues piled up to my nose, eager to leaf through the worn copies and see what adventures my heroes got up to in previous years; some of the copies dated back to before I was born - if only I still had them today.
The introduction of fun-size comics also gave me an extra helping of my favourite comic. The A5-sized bumper comics focussed on just one character, giving them eighty-odd pages for a really big adventure. These smaller comics were a real treat and often only bought during school holidays or for a long journey. Sight-seeing was all very well, but more than a few holidays were spent with my head stuck firmly in a fun-size Beano!
And then, of course, there was the Christmas treat of The Beano annual, full of even more stories and jokes. The hardback book was a staple at Christmas, always lodged between more cumbersome presents in the sack Santa had left. Thankfully, I did keep these annuals which now form a line of consistently designed spines on a bookshelf and even better, Santa still brings me one each year!
Don't miss our special feature on The Beano in the July issue of Scottish Memories as we talk to past editors and celebrate 75 years of the iconic comic!