“The Bash Street Kids” is an ongoing comic strip series found in The Beano. It debuted 13 February 1954, and was conceived by Leo Baxendale (1930), a British comic artist mainly known for his many contributions to The Beano, The Beezer, Smash!, Wham!, Valiant, Whizzer and Chips, Monster Fun Comic, as well his own books. Originally titled “When the Bell Rings,” “The Bash Street Kids” quickly became an instant hit. Throughout its extensive run, the comic strip has been primarily drawn by two main artists: Baxendale and David Sutherland (1933). “The Bash Street Kids” has become one of the most well-known comic strips from The Beano and is featured prominently in The Beano’s merchandising. The characters can even be found in interactive games on The Beano’s website.
Baxendale was originally drawn to comics after reading David Law’s “Denis the Menace” comic strip. In 1953 he created “Little Plum” and submitted it to The Beano, where it was accepted. He was hired as an artist and went on to create many notable characters and titles including “Minnie the Minx” and “The Bash Street Kids.”Both “Minnie the Minx” and “The Bash Street Kids” became critical successes for The Beano, and are some of the longest running comics in the publication’s history. Sutherland took over “The Bash Street Kids” in 1962 and has drawn more than two thousand strips.
“The Bash Street Kids” originally debuted in The Beano issue 604. The comic strip experimented with the lineup of kids before finding their current cast of characters. There have also been guest stars from other Beano comic strips who have shown up at the Bash Street School for a few days including Minnie the Minx and Dennis the Menace. During these crossover strips, the characters often find themselves in competition to cause the most mischief, or get out of trouble.
The comic itself focuses on a group of school children who attend Bash Street School. They get into regular trouble in and out of the classroom, and their leader is Danny, who concocts countless schemes of shenanigans. The children are educated by a teacher known mainly as Teacher (though he was given the name Algernon in The Beano’s 1970 summer special issue). Though the cast of characters has grown over time, the most recent addition, Cuthbert Cringeworthy (a spitting image of the teacher) was added in 1973 and is not considered a Bash Street Kid.Themes explored in the comic strip include the oppression of children by corrupt or incompetent adults, and humorous acts of rebellion.
— Michael Baker
- Baxendale, Leo. A Very Funny Business – 40 Years of Comics. London: Duckworth, 1978.
- Baxendale, Leo. Hobgoblin Wars: Dispatches from the Front. Stroud: Reaper Books, 2009.
- Chapman, James. British Comics: A Cultural History. London: Reaktion Books, 2011.