Badtime Bedtime Stories, a brand new collection of anarchic, frenzied comics stories by Leo Baxendale, is available to pre-order now from the Treasury of British Comics, and other booksellers.
These explosive, hysterical comics – in which Dr Jeykll and Mr Snide, Little Miss Muffet and Little Red Riding Hood run wild in chaotic retellings of beloved tales – are the arguably the jewel of the British humour comics, beloved by many for their DIY storybook aesthetic when they were originally printed in Monster Fun.
It was editor Bob Paynter who created the concept and gave it to Leo Baxendale to develop, which Leo acknowledged in his book, A Very Funny Business. Baxendale wrote and drew many of the early Badtime Bedtime Stories, with other artists including Terry Bave, Mike Brown, Bob Dewar, Leslie Harding, Artie Jackson, Mike Lacey, drawing later stories, after Leo left mainstream comics in 1975.
Mike Brown, in particular, proved an adept “ghost” for Baxendale on the series, published as centre-page pull-outs, which were meant to be removed from the comic, cut up and arranged into eight-page mini-books.
In this new Badtime Bedtime Stories collection, the comics are restored to their full glory, while reprinted in a smaller style, to retain the intimate feel of the originals.
Stories inside include “Punch and Chewsday”, “Dr Jackal & Mr Snide”, “Little ‘Red’ Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beans (in Tomato Sauce) Stalk”, “Little Boy Blue”, “Little Miss Stuffit”, “Moby Duck”, “Little Bo Creep”, “The Underwater World of Jacques Custard”. and “William the Conk”, all credited to Leo Baxendale.
Crammed with gags and hidden details, these Badtime Bedtime Stories are the perfect late night read for kids – and grown ups!
Along with Ken Reid, Leo Baxendale, who died in 2017, is widely-regarded as one of the most important artists in the history of British humour comics. Starting his professional career with Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson, Baxendale created “Minnie the Minx” and “The Bash Street Kids” (initially, “When the Bell Ring”) for The Beano – both strips featuring anarchic adolescents, which would become a staple of his work. In the mid-1960s, he started working for Odhams Press and made another significant contribution when they launched Wham! and Smash!, creating the characters Eagle Eye, Junior Spy, Bad Penny and Grimly Feendish.
Towards the latter half of the decade, Baxendale started working for DC Thomson’s main rivals, the London-based Fleetway Publications. Most of his strips were created for Fleetway’s flagship humour title Buster, including “The Cave Kids”, “Big Chief Pow Wow”, “Clever Dick” and “Snooper”.
His most popular creation for Fleetway, “Sweeny Toddler”, first appeared in the pages of Shiver and Shake in 1973. Such was the popularity of Sweeny that he would survive mergers with Whoopee! (where he became the cover star), Whizzer and Chips, and Buster.
Baxendale received the Cartoon Art Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003, and in 2013 was the second artist to be inducted into the British Comics Awards Hall of Fame.