Those of you who collect Christmas comics may be interested to know that the first batch of this year's seasonal issues are in the shops now.
BeanoMax led the pack, with issue No.10 of the 44 page glossy monthly arriving a few weeks ago. The content is a mixture of features and strips and Christmas theme highlights include a seven page Dennis the Menace strip by Nigel Parkinson, a two page Derek the Sheep by Gary Northfield, a four page Bash Street Kids by Dave Sutherland, and a two page Little Plum by Hunt Emerson. The issue comes bagged with a bunch of free gifts including a busy poster by Nigel Parkinson featuring a multitude of Beano stars past and present. £2.48
Classics from the Comics No.140, (£2.00), the 68 page reprint monthly from DC Thomson, contains a few pages from Christmases past. Kicking off with Tom Bannister's Tiny strip from 1970, there's also an early sixties Banana Bunch by Leo Baxendale, Dudley Watkins' Ginger from 1966, George Martin's Send For Kelly from 1973, Charlie Grigg's Korky the Cat from (I think) 1969 and final episodes of Dave Sutherland's The Great Flood of London from 1961. It must be said that most of the issue is full of non-Christmas strips but there's a good selection there too, including the start of a series of Red Rory of the Eagles adventures drawn by Andy Hutton from 1962.
Viz No.171 (£2.80) features 52 pages of sweary seasonal fun with 8 Ace by Simon Thorp, Ivan Jelical by Davy Jones, Merry Xmas, Jesus! by Cat Sullivan, Suicidal Syd by me, and much more. This issue is bagged with two free gifts: the 2008 Viz Calendar and a Victorian Jazz Mag (which actually shows ladies ankles!). Adults only.
Toxic No.106 (£2.99) is full of Christmas material, admittedly with only five pages of comic strips but plenty of festive fun. There are two seasonal strips: Rex by John Short and Alex Paterson, and Team Toxic by me, plus non-Christmas strips Chester Chimp by Jaspre Bark and Paul Palmer, and the uncredited Bogies. There's also loads of festive illustrations by Jon Rushby including a centrespread board game and gift tags. Like BeanoMax and Viz, the Christmas Toxic is also bagged and comes with a stack of free gifts including a Bogies calendar.
British comics may have changed considerably over the years but it's good to see that the Christmas issue, complete with snow on the logos of the strips, festive slapstick and slap up feeds, is still a tradition upheld by some.