I've rather unfairly been ignoring the Beano, focussing more on true boys comics rather than titles that appealed to both boys and girls.
But, with the new annuals in the shops now, i thought i'd have a return to when i was 10 with this edition.
When talking Beano, there was always a bunch of strips that i read, but didn't really enjoy: Minnie The Minx, Dennis The Menace, Roger The Dodger, Lord Snooty, Biffo The Bear.
Then there were strips i enjoyed, but instantly forgot: Pup Parade, Little Plum, Bash St Kids.
And then there were those that i adored and read over and over again:
The Three Bears. Total and utter genius in just a few pages and it didn't matter that the scheme was always the same - it was like Tom & Jerry cartoons, you know how its going to pan out but the joy was going along for the ride to get there.
Here we have the usual extravagance of the time, devoting two whole pages of the annual just to have the Three Bears welcoming the readers:
There's two tales of the Bears here, with exactly the same plot,them trying to break into Hank's store while he's away. The second tale has a happy Crimbo ending and, was it just me, but didn't a slap-up feast in comics always look SO much better than any amount of food served up in our real world?
The other tale i adored was Billy The Cat. Here i had weekly superhero adventures, so much different to the American reprints i was ingesting - characters, locations and set-ups that i could relate to much more than the likes of Marvel and DC were giving me. I could actually BE Billy - just needed a crash helmet, black togs, rucksack and be good at sports. I thought.
Billys two tales here are a bit of an oddity. After another unnecessary, but brilliant opening page:
We start with Billy talking directly to us readers from the comfort of his deck chair, letting us know about his latest exploit of stopping a burglar and sorting out "five toughs". When he's done with that, he lets us know he'll have another tale for us after the next two pages - which are given over to a Billy The Cat drawing guide:
He's back to let us know how he'd mistaken a Fire Brigade house fire simulation and rescued a dummy.
Two real light tales, with very light art - there's an awful lot of blank, white spaces in those panels, but it works a treat with the stories.
Not suprisingly, none.
About time i returned to this countdown and i think this takes the Number Seeven slot not for the hero, but the bad guy of the tale - a wall climbing, dart-firing villain called The Bat, sporting a cape Batman would be proud of and in the habit of leaving folk his calling card - a picture of a bat with "The Bat" over the top of it - in case folk didn't realise who'd robbed them.
Anyway, our story centres on Jim Maguire, crime reporter, who - stand by for yet another bizzarro plot/device/set-up that makes these stories so special - needs to stake out a chemical factory where he thinks the Bat will appear, but has to attend a fancy dress ball, sneaks off while still in his natty outfit, gets to the factory, is chased by the Bat's men, falls into "electronic equipment", survives that, tumbles into a "huge drum containing a chemical powder" and emerges super-strong, glowing in the dark, and is mistaken for The Bat.
Anyway, he captures The Bat in a real humdrum tale and sets off on his new life as a crimefighter.
Humdrum just about sums it up - The Bat is the only reason then and now for reading it as visually he's really neat.
But now, as an adult, i can see the European artist was completly lifting from European superhero villain, Diabolik: