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Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter comics of the past

As it's Easter Monday I thought I'd take a quick look back at a few Easter-themed strips of past decades. Comics rarely feature the Easter theme now, whether due to concerns about upsetting other religions or, more likely, concerns about promoting chocolate. (The current Beano features a strip about egg-rolling but that's all.) A pity, as the Easter theme always provided some amusement.

Seventy years ago, Easter was a bit earlier than this year, so it was celebrated in the March 23rd 1940 dated issue of Radio Fun. Still a relatively young comic (only up to issue 76) the 24 page issue actually had little to do with Easter but the relevant strips are shown here, kicking off with a lively Arthur Askey strip (above).

Inside, Tommy Handley from ITMA engaged in his usual shenanigans with Funf (above) whilst on the back page (below) Stymie and his Magic Wishbone provided the Easter fun. Unfortunately this beautifully drawn Roy Wilson strip shows the casual racism of the period. The abusive baker gets his comeuppance but the thoughtless insults continue in the text below the panels. Times have definitely improved since 1940.

Moving on to 1966 we have an early issue of Smash! (No.10, dated April 9th) with a great comedy-adventure cover by Ron Spencer. (Incidentally, The Man From BUNGLE's nemesis Doctor Doom would swiftly be renamed Doctor Gloom once Odhams' association with Marvel Comics began.)

Inside, there's a variety of Easter strips (and non-Easter strips, - the theme never dominated the comics as much as Christmas did). A notable one being The Nervs, drawn by Graham Allen. Ken Reid would revamp the strip towards the end of its run but it was Graham Allen who drew the bulk of the series. Sadly, Allen's work was often mistaken for Leo Baxendale's, despite significant differences in style. (In fact Baxendale didn't contribute to this issue at all.)

Towards the back of the comic, Ronnie Rich continues to fulfill the terms of his inheritance (he'll inherit a million pounds if he can get rid of all the money he has first) with the usual disastrous results. A good fast-moving strip by Gordon Hogg and one which features something often seen in Easter strips; a giant Easter Egg, ideal for slapstick opportunities.

Grimly Feendish takes up his usual spot on the back page in another giant Easter Egg misadventure drawn by Stan McMurtry.

A year later, The Beano issue dated March 25th 1967 kicks off with appropriately egg-shaped panels for the Biffo the Bear strip by Dudley D. Watkins.

Numerous Easter themed strips were inside the comic, including this egg-rolling story of Minnie the Minx drawn by Jim Petrie. Notice the ad on page two for a new strip debuting in the following issue, - Billy the Cat!

In the days before he dominated the comic, Dennis the Menace (pre-Gnasher) resided on the back page. This Easter story sees Dennis in fine menacing form, ending with the inevitable spanking. The inventive ways in which Dennis would end up being walloped were always part of the fun.

Concluding our Easter time-trip in 1989 here's the 25th March edition of Buster featuring Tom Paterson's brilliantly grotesque version of the title character.

Unfortunately only a few of the interior strips featured an Easter theme but I did manage to have my Tom Thug character encounter the traditional comic giant Easter Egg!

Happy Easter readers!


Peter Gray said...

Happy Easter to you too Lew..

Anonymous said...

Power Fan says: Interesting about Dr Doom being renamed because of the Fantastic 4 foe. But what's the answer as to how the Man from BUNGLE escaped this time?

Simon Williams said...

Man, I used to love those old Easter (and especially Christmas) issues of comics like Buster, Whizzer and Chips, Beano and Topper. They just don't make comics like that any more.... :o(

Happy Easter anyways Lew! Hope to see you at Bristol!

Leeann H said...

Ha! I remember Buster! :D I think I have a hardback Xmas annual somewhere...

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