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What did you learn from The Beano?

I came across a 1980 edition of The Beano while sorting through my stuff. I thought for a moment I was in for some big money. No such luck! They sell for between £2 and £5.


For 8p a child could have an hour or more of entertainment with Beano. Just possibly a child might learn something trivial, or even improve their reading skills. Maybe pick up something useful about human nature or fallibility – like “Don’t judge by appearances” or “Pride goes before a fall” or “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”.


Equally, however, there were perverse messages. “Dishonesty or deception pays off” or “It is fine to make fun of someone” or “Teachers are there to make your life miserable”. Mini the Minx and Dennis the Menace had evidently never come across the fifth commandment: Honour thy father and mother. They endlessly give their parents (and everyone else) a hard time.


Not all comics were as banal as Beano, of course. There was Superman, for instance. He is everyone’s hero, especially if you are American. He uses his amazing powers to rescue people, thereby encouraging readers to use their powers or talents for the benefit of others. Superman battles evil or evil people, invariably winning and thereby teaching the life lesson that good triumphs over evil. Superman provides the gold standard of heroism, compassion and responsibility. You could say the same for Batman or Spiderman.


The Eagle comic was my favourite – far far more interesting and educational than The Beano!! Dan Dare was the superhero who protected planet earth from extraterrestrial attackers. But there were also great life stories of the like of Horatio Nelson or Winston Churchill. There were features about prehistoric animals. There were superb cutaway drawings of tanks and tractors and petrol pumps and so on.


But all comics were reflections of their period. Britain (or America) ruled the waves, women knew their place (they were depicted in domestic tasks), children should conform (or be forced to – if necessary using a cane), some people were rich and others (often blacks) were poor and that was all fine, etc.


What did you learn from your comics?






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