I've gathered together a pile of Christmas issues of British comics to bring you some highlights of festive seasons past over the Advent period.
First off, one my own favourites from childhood: School Fun.
In fact, the first issue even had an Origin story, whereby the editor's son came home complaining about how rubbish school was and his dad saying he'd prove school was fun! Really! The strip in question was Junior Ed, who would get the introductory page of every issue. Here they are receiving their "Christmas mail":
After Ed, the next strip we get is Softy Sir, a character described in an encyclopaedia of British comics I remember getting out of the library when I was twelve as "the first openly gay British comics character". This is not strictly true and is fairly insultingly reductive but it does mark an interesting point in the softy/homosexual comedy stereotype.
before on the uncomfortable "gay bashing" analogies one can draw. Softy Sir is, in essence, Walter, all grown up and armed with a PGCE. The kids are revolted by his behaviour but usually end up suffering for any attempts to prank him. This issue's nature ramble, for example, ends with one child pretending to have ants in his pants
Next up we have Coronation Street school. Yep, a school featuring child versions of the cast of the then-23-year-old working-class soap opera. I'm pretty sure it was not officially endorsed by Granada Television or Tony Warren as it does not carry any apparent branding. However it is called "Coronation Street School".
Now there are many areas of pop culture of which I have an unnecessarily deep knowledge (I surprise myself with how well I know Smurfs or Babylon 5 or whatever) but we were not a soap family in my house so I did not know who these characters were at the time. Of course, now I have an unnecessarily deep knowledge of the entire history of Coronation Street. However in this case I was originally paid to research it.
So I now know this panel features Bett and Deidre:
The centre pages have the only full-colour strip: E.T.T.: Extra Terrestrial Teacher (remember, it's 1983). With more art by David Mostyn it's one of the highlights of the comic.
And, travelling further back in time, we have a strip about a British school trip captured in Germany in 1939 and kept in a POW camp impressively called Schoolditz. For real.
I shall leave you, as I wish I could every time, with an inexplicable picture of Keith Chegwin.