Friday, April 25, 2008

Dudley Watkins and the Bimbo


With a title guaranteed to raise a smile for the wrong reasons today, D.C. Thomson's Bimbo was a "nursery comic" (for very young children) published from 1961 to 1972. However, unlike the comparatively insubstantial pre-school magazines of today, Bimbo featured a good number of comic strips, making up just over 50% of its content. (Judging by the issue shown here from 1965.)

Amongst the strips (all of which met Thomson's usual high standards) was Tom Thumb by Dudley Watkins, taking up the front cover. Watkins was of course Thomson's prize artist, and at the same time he was illustrating Bimbo covers he was also doing the same for The Beano (Biffo the Bear), The Topper (Mickey the Monkey), and The Beezer (Ginger), plus interior strips Desperate Dan and Lord Snooty. A remarkable output and always of substantial quality.

Interestingly, Bimbo featured a regular Baby Crockett strip, - a character that also appeared in The Beezer. Both versions were drawn by Bill Ritchie, although the Bimbo strip was naturally tailored for the younger reader.


With 11 out of its 20 glossy pages devoted to comic strips, Bimbo was an ideal publication to encourage children to read. It also stimulated their minds with the sequential art form as they learned to imagine movement and passage of time between panels. With standards of literacy dropping today, perhaps modern "activity magazines" should take note and shift their emphasis towards featuring more comic strips rather than mostly "make and do" pages.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Tom Thumb story makes no sense! Why, when the right way up, does the jar fit snugly inside the cart, yet when upside down rest on the edges? I can accept the existence of the minuscule hero, but not this expanding jar (or contracting cart).

Lew Stringer said...

It's plain to see the jar is only resting on one side of the cart in the final pic.

Failing that I suggest you write to DC Thomson and complain. Mark your envelope "Something has been bothering me since 1965" and I'm sure they'll file it in the appropriate place. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lew

That "remarkable output" of Dudley Watkins is even more astonishing when you add his two pages a week of Oor Wullie and The Broons for the Sunday Post newspaper.

David Simpson

Lew Stringer said...

Very true David! I'd forgotten to include those. Around eight pages a week in all! Plus extra jobs for Summer Specials and Annuals. Quite incredible.

Peter Gray said...

Thanks Lew...love these type of posts...

Its only recently I've found out Dudley drew this as well...not many people will probably no this...

Of course he drew Tom Thumb in the 50's Beano as well...for older children...

Dudley deserves his own book to cover all the many characters he did...over so many years...

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