Have comics really evolved?

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Blogger network member Elaine, from the blog Fun as a Gran reminisces about her youth and how comics such as The Beano played a part in her family’s life, including that of her grandsons’.

1983 beano comic

As a grandparent I have to say I have been reading children’s comics in one form or another for over fifty years. I remember my mother shouting at us at 6am on a Saturday morning to get “back to bed it is too early to be up” as we use to take it in turns to sit on the bottom of the stairs eagerly awaiting the arrival of the paperboy with our weekly comics. My earliest memories were when my sister and I got the Dandy and The Beano and my brother either a football comic or a proper boy’s comic such as the Eagle. When they came through the door the one sat on the stairs would pick them up and sneak back up the stairs to hand them out.

This then kept us quiet for an hour or so as we read and reread and swapped them about. This all stopped when we moved to Berlin and there were no paper boys and they were picked up once a week on a Friday night from the NAAFI. By now my sister and I had moved onto comics aimed at teenagers with agony aunts and “real life problems” as well as topical issues covered over a few weeks.  At this point I remember a switch from comics to magazines and a company called Marshall Cavendish who produced many series based on one main subject, an early magazine edition of an encyclopaedia. They were great for research and school home work.

old comic books

Fast forward to my own children and I have seen them move from comics like Twinkle designed for very young children, through the realms of more mature comics as they grew. Back in these days comics were not merchandised around television programmes in the way they have do now. Back in the early 1980’s very little television was aimed at children and nobody had started to spin off magazines and other items from the programmes.

All my children had a passion for reading, as do the grandchildren. When my daughter was four I remember buying for her a magazine that came with a cassette tape, the stories were bright and colourful and varied from some that were a one off to others that spanned six or more magazines. This came out fortnightly and we built them up for her Christmas. She loved them and they were worth every penny we paid for them. They are now over thirty years old are still used, albeit carefully, by the grandchildren. Cassette tapes themselves were a new idea, and we built up quite a good collection of audio books between the children. They were especially handy for in the hospital, as back then parents were not encouraged or really welcomed to stay with their children.

story time magazine cassettes

Fast forward another generation and now you can buy magazine subscriptions as presents. The other thing that has changed is the way children interact with the printed word. So many children read ebooks now, and I have to say books like Harry Potter look less daunting on an ereader than they do for real. There is no need to wander down to the library to look up answers for your homework when you can just google it. I wonder if comics will still be around when my grandchildren get to be my age and if so in what format because so far they have stood the test of time.

Subscriptions make a great treat and can help with children’s literacy skills. Why not treat the children in your life to a comic or children's magazine subscription from magazine.co.uk?

Beano image source: Flickr