Dundee, Scotland, was once famous for its three main exports: Jute, Jam, and Journalism. The headquarters of newspaper publisher DC Thomson remains in the city though much reduced from its heyday. As well as daily newspapers the firm has also printed some of the most popular and long-running comic books in the world such as The Beano, continuously printed every week since 1938, and famous Scottish exports like Oor Wullie and The Broons.
Right next door to their head office is the High School of Dundee, specifically the school’s playground. The antics of the children during their breaks inspired creator Leo Baxendale to draw a comic titled When the Bell Rings in 1954. Featuring different children every week, after a few years a settled core cast of characters – Spotty, Danny, Toots, Sidney, Plug, Fatty, ‘Erbert, Wilfrid and Smiffy – were renamed The Bash Street Kids in 1956. They’ve been terrorizing their teacher (who is named Teacher) ever since.
Way, way, way back in 1994, as a callow child I was shocked to find out that to celebrate the strips 40th anniversary the characters were going to be given a make-over to appeal to modern audiences. Changes included Plug being given a handsome facelift, Fatty becoming fit and muscular and Smiffy being given a brain implant. The school would be replaced by a technologically advanced “academy”, and Teacher by a robot. Let’s see how it turned out during their anniversary week of the 19th of February, 1994:
Phew! Well, I hope you enjoyed this short jaunt into comic book history. Enjoy your day, Avocado!
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