Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Post No4: The Beezer 1976

Final post this side of Christmas: The Beezer, dated 25 December 1976.

The Beezer was published by DC Thomson between 1956 and 1990 before merging into "Beezer and Topper" for three more years. Like The Topper it was published in tabloid format until; 1980 and so was another scanner-pain.

You can see cover star Ginger above there, who was an even more tedious version of Oor Wullie, both created by Dudley Watkins.

This Christmas issue shows us plenty of well-remembered Beezer characters, but if your favourite isn't here.... well, chances are it was a Topper character. They're like that.

First up is Britain's answer to Mr Magoo: Colonel Blink:
 Ha ha! It's funny because he's visually impaired. Oddly this character survived into the 90s only recast as a nearly-blind child called Blinky. It lacked the weird air of the retired army man which made the original strips quite charming. He talks like the Major from Fawlty Towers. Or Colonel Blimp.

Next up: The Numskulls, a brilliant idea about the little people who live in a man's head and control him. Like that new Pixar film.

As with Topper's Tricky Dicky, this is the only Beezer strip that still survives, now drawn by Nigel Auchterlounie, in The Beano. It's passed through many different hands and styles in the meantime.

Here is the nose Numskull visiting the eye Numskull. They're planning to get The Man to stuff his face with Christmas dinner:
 The brain Numskull is reminding The Man about how ill he felt last year after overeating by showing memories in the form of cine film:
 Which seems charmingly retro now. I wonder if the same will one day be said about this recent panel:
Sci-fi adventure next with The Space Kids!
 A bunch of stranded children are trying to teach the natives of the alien planet about Christmas. It's just like the days of Empire once again! Tricky Wallahs, these aliens! They don't like it up 'em!

The fat kid tries to get extra helping of pudding (fat kids, eh?) and ends up pursued by nightmarish hell-beasts:
 Lesson learned.

Young Sid, The Copper's Kid is fairly self-explanatory.
 And The Banana Bunch, a strip originally created by the great Leo Baxendale, is a fun kids-in-a-clubhouse strip, albeit mild compared to The Krazy Gang.

After the fat kid, Fatty, sneakily eats the food put out for Santa (fat kids, eh?), jolly old St Nick himself snacks on their Christmas dinner:
 And poor Fatty has to do without. Lesson learned. At least you didn't get nightmarish hell-beasts, Fatty!
 The only strip to be around for the entire run of The Beezer was Bill Ritchie's Baby Crockett, which I found annoyingly cutesy as a child and fares no better in retrospect.
 Little Mo is a kid who gets into scrapes. And may have just discovered heroin.
 The Badd Lads were a bunch of habitual thieves (like Topper's Freddie the Flop) called Boss, Knuckles and Fingers. Boss was about to spend Christmas in the big house until he escaped. And he would've gotten away with it too if Knuckles hadn't cut the Christmas cake so weirdly.
 Rounding out the issue is Pop, Dick and Harry, twin kids who get into scrapes and their misguided father who tries to outwit them.
But wait! That's not all! You may have noticed the subtitle "and Cracker" on that there cover...
Cracker was a comic launched in 1975 and just a few months before this issue was published had ceased, merging into Beezer. It existed for a short while as a pull-out section, published sideways so that it maintained its same size and format in The Beezer's tabloid sized pages.
On the "cover" is Cracker mascot and answer to the question "What would a Gremlin look like in human form?", Sammy. Sammy hosts reader jokes in the form of cartoon, with a "laughometer" running along the bottom of the panels.
 Can't decide if that's a racist cartoon or a meta commentary on racist cartoons...

Inside is Scrapper, a kid who gets into violent scrapes. He loves fighting. And his punchline takes place on the day after Christmas:
 Joe Soap is really weird strip about a boy whose Granddad is a crackpot inventor who has a bunch of soap bubbles with unpredictable effects. 
 Told you it was weird.

Secret agent adventure next with Iron Hand, an adventurer with... well, an iron hand. It can do various Inspector Gadgetty-type tricks.
 I have literally only read two Iron Hand strips and in both of them his attempts to go undercover are ruined by someone noticing that he has an iron hand.
 Young Foo, The Kung Fu Kid features a yellow-skinned, slitty-eyed child with martial arts skills. Nothing wrong with that, right?
 Fortunately this is much less offensive than other Young Foo strips I've seen, but I'll save them for a later blog...

Little 'Orror is about a child who is only interested in the macabre while his parent just want him to be normal. I have goth friends who I'm sure can relate.
 And finally, on the "back cover" is Billy the Kid.

Now Billy is (get this) a rough little "menace" of a kid with back spiky hair whose best friend is his equally menacing dog.
Hey! That's the same punchline from Scrapper! In the same comic-within-comic! Get stuffed, Billy the Plagiarising Kid!

Merry Christmas!


  1. These old fashioned cartoons are fantastic, I love anything that has been taken like this and put into digital format for the world to see. I recently transferred Cine Film to Digital and it's amazing how technology allows you to share things from yesteryear.