Publisher : D.C. Thomson
Publication Dates: 1979 – 2001
Number of Issues Published: 17 (#1980 – #2001)
Dimensions: 19.5 cm x 28 cm
Publishing Format: Was Ongoing
Publication Type: book
The Bash Street Kids is a comic strip in the British comic book The Beano. The strip, created by Leo Baxendale as When the Bell Rings, first appeared in issue 604 (dated 13 February 1954). It became The Bash Street Kids in 1956 and has become a regular feature, appearing in every issue. Since 1961, David Sutherland has drawn about 2,100 strips.
Like many long-running UK comic strips, The Bash Street Kids is frozen in the era when it began. It portrays Class 2B of the Bash Street School in Beanotown, where the teacher and headmaster wear mortarboards and gowns and the students sit at wood desks with inkwells. They are taught by a stereotypical “Teacher”, whose wife is “Mrs Teacher”. The characters were inspired by the view from the D. C. Thomson & Co. office windows, overlooking the High School of Dundee playground. According to Leo Baxendale, “In fact, the catalyst for my creation of Bash Street was a Giles cartoon of January 1953: kids pouring out of school, heads flying off and sundry mayhems. Straight away, I pencilled a drawing of ‘The Kids of Bash Street School’ and posted it from my home in Preston to R. D. Low, the managing editor of D.C. Thomson’s children’s publications in Dundee. I received an offhand response, a dampener. It was only after I’d created Little Plum (April 1953) and Minnie the Minx (September 1953) that the Beano editor George Moonie travelled to Preston on 20 October 1953 and asked me to go ahead with Bash Street (he gave it the provisional title of ‘When The Bell Goes’; when it appeared in The Beano in February 1954, it was titled ‘When The Bell Rings’).” Over time, the Bash Street School’s large number of students slowly shrank to its trademark ten. When they first appeared, the strips consisted of the kids outside school; the settings were increasingly inside the school, and the strip was retitled The Bash Street Kids on 11 November 1956 with “the kids” preparing for a pantomime.
In 1994 (the Kids’ 40th anniversary), it was announced that The Bash Street Kids would be overhauled to appeal to a more politically correct, modern audience. Changes included the replacement of Danny’s trademark school hat by a top hat, Fatty becoming fit and muscular and Tom-boy Toots acting more feminine. The school would be replaced by a technologically advanced “academy”, and Teacher by a robot. A protest began, accompanied by petitions and publicity stunts throughout Britain, demanding that the characters remain the same. The proposal turned out to be a hoax when the story introducing the new Bash Street Kids saw them in their old ways. Editor Euan Kerr was pleased with the fan response, saying that the publication “even got death threats!” Shortly afterwards, an animated adaptation was produced as a segment of The Beano Video Stars.
By 2000 The Bash Street Kids was a feature-length strip, filling an entire Beano book. Often drawn by Mike Pearce and Kev F. Sutherland, during the late 2000s the strips moved to Beano sister publication BeanoMAX (where they were drawn by Nigel Parkinson). These feature-length strips were more detailed, delving into an obscure character’s personality and introducing new traits. Spotty was revealed as sarcastic and aggressive, while Plug was a more sympathetic, emotional character. The strips detailed a rivalry between the kids and the comic’s cover star, Dennis the Menace. Mike Pearce soon began penciling a spin-off from the original strip, The Bash Street Kids – Singled Out, a single-page comic concentrating on one “kid” a week. Pearce retired, the strips were taken over by Tom Paterson before being mothballed and they were later collected into two annuals.
As Dennis the Menace was revamped, he appeared less with other Beano characters and more by himself due to the popularity of his new TV series. The Bash Street Kids now has three spin-offs: Simply Smiffy, Winston and The Bash Street Burp. In the July 2013 Beano 75th-birthday edition, the Bash Street School is destroyed and the kids move to Beano High.
Summer Special 1995,1996
Annual 1984, Book 1982
Summer Special 1994,1997-1999