Classics From The Comics (1996-2010)
Classics From The Comics was a magazine published by DC Thomson which featured classic strips from their archive, which was published monthly and had 68 pages. Strips were mostly taken from the archives of The Beano, The Dandy, The Beezer, The Topper, plus some of their shorter-lived comics including Sparky, Nutty, Cracker and Buzz, and mostly ranged from the late-50s to the late-80s. The cover also featured original artwork of various characters which was usually drawn by Ken H Harrison.
There were definitely lots of retro laughs to be had. Although I read DC Thomson comics for about a decade when I was younger, one thing that I liked about Classics From The Comics was discovering characters from before my time or from the comics that I didn’t usually read. Another thing that I liked was that they sometimes included some front covers of classic comics which were always great to look at, great fun from back in the days when comics cost tuppence.
As well as all the big names such as Dennis The Menace and Korky The Cat, strips that I liked included Ginger who was a star in The Beezer and was originally drawn by Dudley D Watkins, who is regarded as one of the greatest British comic strip artists. I also enjoyed the adventures of The Topper‘s Mickey The Monkey and Pop, Dick and Harry.
One classic strip that I particularly liked and think deserves some credit was Danny’s Tranny, which appeared in The Topper in the 70s and 80s. It was about a boy called Danny Wilson (not the “Mary’s Prayer” group) who had a magical transistor radio, that when he pressed the buttons, could make incredible things happen, including making things bigger or smaller, or invisible. I just thought that this strip was a great idea well done and I was always pleased when a strip was reprinted in Classics From The Comics.
One negative thing about Classics From The Comics was that there were PC cuts made to some strips, with children receiving “the slipper” being particularly targeted to be removed from history. I know that of course “it was alright in the 80s” and it wouldn’t be acceptable now, but I am unsure that pretending things never happened is a good idea. The majority of strips seemed to be published uncut though.
One of the more positive things about Classics From The Comics though was that in later issues there were some more features, including puzzles, and competitions to win prizes. There were also some profiles about some of the artists who worked on the strips. I was pleased about this because they deserve credit for their work, and I particularly enjoyed the one on the late Jim Petrie, one of my favourite artists who brilliantly drew Minnie The Minx for 40 years. They also expanded the range of comics that they featured strips from, even including the long-gone boys’ comics Victor and Hotspur for a while.
Just as I felt Classics From The Comics was taking an upward turn in its content though, it abruptly closed in 2010 after 175 issues and 14 years. This was disappointing, but there is still the occasional annual published featuring archive material. I hope that DC Thomson will continue to occasionally go through their archive, as they have now published strips of some of Britain’s favourite comic characters for over 80 years.