welcome and enjoy!

Hi and welcome to my blog about comics from other people’s childhood! It is dedicated primarily to British humour comics of the 60s and 70s. The reason they are not from my childhood is simply because I didn’t live in the UK back then (nor do I live there now). I knew next to nothing about them until fairly recently but since then I’ve developed a strong liking for the medium and amassed a large collection, including a number of complete or near complete sets. My intention is to use this blog as a channel for sharing my humble knowledge about different titles, favourite characters and creators as I slowly research my collection.

QUICK TIP: this blog is a sequence of posts covering one particular comic at a time. The sequence follows a certain logic, so for maximum results it is recommended that the blog is read from the oldest post up.

Copyright of all images and quotations used here is with their respective owners. Any such copyrighted material is used exclusively for educational purposes and will be removed at first notice. All other text copyright Irmantas P.



Monday, September 22, 2014

A LOOK AT MONSTER FUN FEATURES – BADTIME BEDTIME BOOKS – Part TWO




They used to prepare comics well before their cover date and Mr. Baxendale submitted as many as seven of the Badtime Bedtime Books before the release of the 1st issue of Monster FUN Comic. Here is the gallery of covers and bits of information which can be found in Mr. Baxendale’s book A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS:


1) Jack The Nipper – MFC No. 1, 14th June, 1975. After Bob Paynter okayed the script, he asked Leo to draw up a pencil rough the same size as printed comic “to show to the top brass”. Five days later he got back to tell Mr. Baxendale that they were starting printing, and asked him to ink in the rough layout. Leo commented that inking in print-size jobs would be a good recipe for going blind if done regularly, but he agreed to do it for just one time.


2) Robinson Gruesome – MFC No. 2, no date on cover. Having finished this one, Mr. Baxendale went to London on 8th April, 1975 and persuaded Bob Paynter to cut Sweeny Toddler to a half page.


3) Punch and Chewday – MFC No. 3, no date on cover. Mr. Baxendale finished this one on 16th April, 1975 and was very satisfied with the job. The Editor was delighted as well: Mr. Baxendale remembers him saying “You’ve thrown in everything but the kitchen sink”.


4) Dr. Jackal and Dr. Snide – MFC No. 4, no date on cover. Having completed the BBB, Mr. Baxendale went to London on 29th April and told IPC editors he would no longer be able to draw Snooper for BUSTER and Sweeny Toddler for WHOOPEE!


5) Red Riding Hood – MFC No. 5, no date on cover. It took 10 days to complete – one day for the script and 9 days for the artwork. Mr. Baxendale thought the book was as good as any of his best Bash Street sets – and the humour had an extra loony tilt to it. Here it is in full:


No. 6 Jack and the Beans In Tomato Sauce Stalk (MFC No. 6, 19th July, 1975) and No. 7 Little Boy Glue (MFC No. 7, 26th July, 1975) took 9 ¼ days each to complete:


The first issue of Monster FUN Comic came out in the first week of June, 1975. Mr. Baxendale spent an average of 10 days on each book and he soon realised he was beginning to run out of time. As a result, BBB No. 8 (Trouser Island) was his second one after No. 1 drawn in actual printing size. The centre pages of MFC No. 8 were given to Kid Kong poster, so the eighth BBB can be found in MFC No. 9 (9th August, 1975):


9) Davey Jones (MFC No. 10, 16 August, 1975). Having finished this one, on 26th June, 1975 Mr. Baxendale travelled to London once again to tell Bob Paynter he no longer had the time to write scripts for BBBs and left with the Editor’s promise to put his writers on the job.


10) I Spy with my Little Guy appeared in MFC No. 11 (23rd August, 1975) but you won’t find it mentioned in A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS. The book is somewhat peculiar – it looks like Leo Baxendale’s artwork but something just isn’t right. The name of the main character – Mervyn – rang a bell: Mervyn’s Monsters was a strip by Leo Baxendale which ran in Buster in the late 60s, so I though what if the two things were connected? I did some detective work and indeed – I Spy with my Little Guy turned out to be a serious cut-and-stitch exercise on behalf of IPC in-house “surgeons” who pieced it together from individual panels of the four last episodes of Mervyn’s Monsters (BUSTER 17th August – 7th September, 1968). The last panel of the BBB was a quickie by Artie Jackson, I believe. Here are all 8 pages from BUSTER. If you have the BBB, you can have some fun comparing the two stories:





Mr. Baxendale refers to BBBs No. 11 - Little Miss Stuffit (MFC No. 12, 30th August, 1975), and 12 - Oliver Twister (MFC No. 14, 13th September, 1975) as “quickies”, which he both wrote and illustrated.


13) Sherlock Bones (MFC No. 15, 20th September, 1975). This one is not mentioned in A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS and looks like it has been drawn by someone else. My “theory” is that it was the work of the young Tom Paterson:


14) Ghoul Dilocks and the Three Scares (MFC No. 16, 27th September, 1975) – not mentioned in A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS and I am unsure if it was drawn by Mr. Baxendale. The two “clues” which suggest it may be his work are bits of hand-written text in two panels and Don Martin noses of some of the characters (Leo imitated Don Martin in a few of his drawings in the first Willy the Kid book). The story itself is also very “Baxendale” but the artwork looks rushed.


15) Marzipan and the Japes (Mr. Baxendale refers to it as Marzipan of the Apes in his book) (MFC No. 17, 4th October, 1975). This one took Mr. Baxendale 11 days to write and draw. It is one of the vintage sets that he intended to draw from time to time in order “not to lose it”, and the last one that he wrote himself. This was the time when the amount of incoming fan mail confirmed Mr. Baxendale’s gut feeling that he’d hit the jackpot.


16) Star Truck – (MFC No. 18, 11th October, 1975) – signed by Leo Baxendale. Not mentioned in A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS. Like all the subsequent ones, it was drawn to the script of an IPC writer. Having completed it, Leo paid yet another visit to Bob Paynter to break the bad news that he no longer wanted to carry on drawing a BBB every week (let us pretend that he had not already missed four or five weeks by then). He recalls how the news plunged Bob into deep gloom…


The next five books – No. 17 Moby Duck (MFC No 19, 18th October, 1975), No. 18 Little Bo Creep (MFC No. 21, 1st November, 1975), No. 19 King Arthur and the Nightmares of the Round Table (MFC No. 23, 15th November, 1975), No. 20 Dick Twerpin (MFC No. 24, 22nd November, 1975) and No. 21 The Underwater World of Jacques Custard (MFC No. 25, 29th November, 1975) are unsigned but all look like Leo’s work. They are not mentioned in A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS but the book says that throughout August and September, 1975 he drew BBBs in a loosely drawn ‘na├»ve’ style. He spent a lot of time resting, and watching the Test Match.



22) Babes in the Woad (MFC No. 26, 6th December, 1975) – the last one mentioned in A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS that tells us it took 5 days to finish. Mr. Baxendale described the IPC script as “chaotic” which he rewrote completely, and thought that the finished feature was absolutely barmy.


23) William the Conk (MFC No. 28, 20th December, 1975) - Not mentioned in A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS, unsigned and in all likelihood the last one by Leo before he left comics in the end of October, 1975.


Humpty Dumpty Special Story (a two-pager in MFC No. 20 dated 25th October, 1975) and Badtime Bedtime Book pull-out poster in MFC No. 36 dated 14th February, 1976 were also drawn by Mr. Baxendale, I believe. This rounds up the account of the Leo Baxendale period of Badtime Bedtime Books in MONSTER FUN COMIC weeklies.

All Images 2014 © Egmont UK Ltd.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A LOOK AT MONSTER FUN FEATURES: BADTIME BEDTIME BOOKS - Part ONE




Badtime Bedtimes Books is something what Monster Fun Comic is probably best remembered for. They were centre-page pull-outs which were meant to be removed from the comic, cut up and arranged into eight-page minibooks. Each book was a self-contained whacky story. Here is an example from MFC No. 3. Unfortunately, IPC printing presses often failed to do them justice (click on the images to enlarge):






Leo Baxendale wrote about Badtime Bedtimes Books at length in his book A VERY FUNNY BUSINESS, and that’s how we know it was Bob Paynter who created the concept and gave it to Leo Baxendale to develop. Mid-70s was the time when Mr. Baxendale had grown disappointed with the comics industry and was looking for an opportunity to quit because he felt it was in for a decline. He realised that times had changed and that comics humour should follow suit. Although he was excited about Badtime Bedtime Books, he had planned from the very start to use them as a “test bed” for his new ideas and a vehicle to manoeuvre his way out of the comics industry.

The first Badtime Bedtime Books received glowing reader feedback which Leo Baxendale compared with reaction to his very early Bash Street Kids, and he immediately knew he was on the right path.


As could be expected, pressing deadlines prevented Mr. Baxendale from working at a leisurely pace and producing a quality “vintage” book every time. He gradually divested himself from other strips he had still been drawing for IPC and concentrated single-mindedly on the BBBs, but he still didn’t have enough time to do them as he thought they should be done. As a consequence, he adopted a loose sketchy style, producing a vintage set only once in a while. This was also the time when Mr. Baxendale started contemplating a series of his own Willy the Kid annuals. He no longer had the time to write the BBBs, and eventually stopped drawing them too, leaving Bob Paynter with a huge challenge of finding first the writers and later the illustrators who could match Mr. Baxendale’s talent.


In all likelihood the original idea was to have a BBB in every issue (with the odd poster of a MFC star character squeezed in), and Mr. Baxendale was somehow able to keep the schedule, although we know from his book that he was working at a leisurely pace and preparing his first Willy the Kid annual at the same time. All but three of the 25 Badtime Bedtime Books that came out in 1975 were illustrated by Mr. Baxendale but the decline of the feature was very much on the horizon.


By the time he had to prepare the first MONSTER FUN COMIC issues of 1976, Bob Paynter had run out of Badtime Bedtime Books supplied by Mr. Baxendale, so he tried experimenting with a few other artists. IMHO, three of the illustrators (Artie Jackson, Jack Clayton and even Terry Bave) weren’t really up to the task, and the five BBBs that appeared in the first months of 1976 were particularly poorly drawn. Things improved considerably when Bob Paynter gave the artist’s duties to Mike Brown who was able to imitate Leo Baxendale's style to perfection, adding his own twist to it. The Editor must have been satisfied, as confirmed by the fact that towards the end of the run the frequency of BBBs was restored to its previous levels. Mike Brown proudly initialled or signed most of the sets, so he must have been pleased with his work as well.


The MONSTER FUN COMIC run of Badtime Bedtime Books falls into three “periods”: 1) the Leo Baxendale period, 2) the “grey” period when they were drawn by other artists, or when Leo Baxendale’s simplified style or ghosters’ efforts make one wonder who really illustrated them, and last but by no means least 3) the Mike Brown period.

I will cover the three periods in my next posts. In the meantime, here is the Badtime Bedtime Book poster from MFC No. 36 dated 14th February, 1976. Drawn, I believe, by Leo Baxendale.


 All Images 2014 © Egmont UK Ltd.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.