Happy Birthday To The Beano’s Bash Street Kids At 65

by Olly MacNamee

You’d have to have lived on another planet not to know that it’s Batman’s 80 anniversary year this year, but I dare say many of you won’t have even heard of The Bash Street Kids, who have appeared in The Beano weekly on and off since 1954 and issue #604.

Well, these school-age tearaways were created by British comics’ legend, Leo Baxendale, in a strip originally called When The Bell Rings. It changed to The Bash Street Kids two years later in 1956.

First ever Bash Street Kids strip by Leo Baxendale

Looking at it today, like so many other classic characters from the Golden Age of UK comics, these cheeky classroom characters seem from another era as they continue to dress almost identically to when they did back then.

When publisher D C Thompson did claim to be updating them, it was revealed to be nothing but a prank, but it certainly got the public riled up back in 1994. Seems comic book readers the world over can sometimes be stuck in their ways when it comes to the presentation of such iconic characters. Its not the first time The Beano has pulled the wool over the public’s eyes, but appropriate behaviour from publishers of The Beano, I reckon. 

The line up of varied cast members has pretty much stayed the same too, with Danny the unelected leader of a group that only has one female character, even today. And, with more female readers like my daughter once was, maybe they really should consider adding new blood onto the mix. Maybe they waiting for their 70th?

Another early example of “When The Bell Rings”

Over the years they have been drawn by a number of regular D C Thompson artists such as Nigel Parkinson, Lew Stringer and David Sutherland, the latter having drawn over 2000 strips when he took over the strip from Baxendale in 1961.

They say your school years are some of the  best of your life, but after 65 of them, even I’d be getting tired. It’s the teachers who feel sorry for! 

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