Monday, 27 January 2014

The Topper Book 1989: An Overview

I spend a lot of my time reading old children's annuals I've picked up in charity shops. I'm used to seeing material of a somewhat... questionable nature in them. You know, there will be jokes or stories based around certain attitudes of the time that would no longer be acceptable. Usually racist, often sexist occasionally homophobic. Sometimes a word will have shifted in meaning over time giving us a good ol' 21st century snigger.

With that in mind, here is a selection of nuggets culled from a single annual. The Topper Book 1989.

The Topper was published by DC Thomson between 1953 and 1990 and was certainly the weirdest of its "big four" humour titles. Strips you may remember include Beryl the Peril, Tricky Dicky and Mickey the Monkey (who I've only just realised is actually an ape, not a monkey).

There is also a character who tries to make other children's wishes come true.
Hey look! He's dressed like.... Oh. 

Okay, they could not have foreseen that.

Let's move on to casual racism.

Figaro was a Mexican bandit character. The two jokes were: He was a rubbish bandit. He spoke with an hilarious accent.
It's the late 80s. Allo Allo is on telly.

Then there's Video Kid ("HE STARS IN HIS OWN VIDEOS!")
It starts out innocent enough. He wants to make a musical but hilariously stumbles off onto another film set, then another (like the end of Blazing Saddles). At one point he crashes a war movie and takes a grenade to the face:
Yes, the bright side... He can get back to that musical he was doing. With a twist:
Oh dear. A reminder: This was published in 1988.

Another popular character you might remember if you're over thirty was a boy who had a magical transistor radio. It could make things shrink, grow or fly because reasons. Leaving aside just how dated the concept of a transistor radio was in 1988 (I didn't know what it was) the strip is saddled with this unfortunate title: 
Now, I've recently been told that the word "tranny" is seen as a term of abuse by the transgendered community but until then I'd only known it as a fairly cute word for a cross-dresser. And that's the use I chose to think of when I read this strip in which Danny is watching a football match with a friend in a pink frock.
Danny and his friend prevent the opposing team from cheating and are hailed as heroes:
They were so accepting. It's rather beautiful...

And then there's these panels from Beryl the Peril....

That's your Dad you're talking to, Beryl.



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