Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Classics from the Comics
Classics from the Comics, which is published on the last Thursday of every month, seems to be one of D.C. Thomson's most popular secrets. Like Fun Size Dandy and Fun Size Beano it is rarely, if ever, advertised in the weekly Dandy and Beano comics and its distribution is patchy to say the least, yet it has still managed to survive for over ten years.
For those who have never seen a copy (for so few newsagents appear to stock it) Classics from the Comics is a 68 page monthly reprinting strips from Thomson's old funnies: Sparky, Topper, Beezer, Buzz, Nutty, Cracker, and of course Dandy and Beano. Most of the stories are approximately from anywhere between 1959 to 1987, which means the collections often include gems from Leo Baxendale, Ken Reid and Dudley Watkins. (The current issue, No.131, features Baxendale art on Minnie the Minx and The Banana Bunch, plus three pages of Ken Reid's Jonah.)
A few months ago Classics gained a new editor, bringing in a bold new logo and cover design and a chattier editorial page. Readers are also encouraged to send in their suggestions for reprints and, as I imagine many of its readers are nostalgic adults, it's little wonder that strips from the 1960s and 1970s dominate.
If there's a criticism I'd level at Classics it's that often serials aren't run in chronological order. For example, they'll be a Winker Watson strip one issue, which is part of a "Winker's brother on the run" story, but the next issue might feature a Brassneck story instead which comes in half way through a serial about the robot boy being controlled by the school sneak.
This is only a minor criticism as at least the individual chapters of those serials are complete stories in themselves. What is pleasing is that currently Classics from the Comics is reprinting the 1959 Black Sapper serial (by Jack Glass) from The Beezer in full, with three chapters per issue.
For just £2.00 an issue, Classics is a bargain. Within its pages are some of the finest slapstick comedy strips D.C. Thomson ever produced. Artists such as Davy Law (Dennis the Menace); George Martin (Greedy Pigg); Eric Roberts (Dirty Dick) and Tom Bannister (Colonel Blink) all in their prime. For older readers it's a trip down memory lane but for new readers it's an education into the history of British humour comics.
If you can't find Classics from the Comics in your area, click here to subscribe to it from the DC Thomson website.