About the scans:
For copyright reasons I haven't included many complete stories on this page, but
sometimes there are extra pages that aren't linked (e.g. if an
image is name1.jpg try typing name2.jpg). Reading scans on
computer isn't ideal, as half the fun of the Badtime books was
their compact size and holding them in your hands. Maybe one day
the Badtime books will be reprinted in a single paperback (I'm
allowed to dream, aren't I?). Egmont (the copyright owners) are
always helpful and polite when you email them so who knows?
About the information:
43 of the books were in the comics, the rest in the annuals. 21
were by Leo Baxendale before he left at the end of 1975. Early
comments are based on Leo Baxendale’s autobiography ("A Very
Funny Business"), with other information generously provided by
"Kashgar" and others at comicsuk.co.uk,
or just my own biased and ignorant opinions. Unless stated, all
Badtime books (except in the annuals) have color covers and
middles, and black and white other pages.
Book 9, issue 10: Davy Jones.
Based in the wild west. A lot of fun, and includes rare
caricatures of celebrities.
Book 2, in issue 2: Robinson Gruesome. A
nice crazy strip, combining lots of Baxendale nonsense with an
exotic location. Reprinted (in black and white with minor
changes, e.g. removing the end text) in Monster Fun Annual 1980.
Book 4, in issue 4: Dr Jackal and Mister Snide.
At this point Baxendale had finally persuaded his editors to let
him drop his other strips and concentrate all his energy on the
Book 7, in issue 7: Little Boy Glue. This
one also took over nine days to complete. In those days the
weekly comics took about six weeks from finished art to the
title appearing on the newsstands, so all the previous stories
were finished before the first issue went on sale. But from now
the pressure was really on. Any title that took more than a week
would mean an issue of Monster Fun with no Badtime book! Sure
enough, after Little Boy Glue appeared in issue 7, there was no
Badtime book in issue 8, replaced by a center page poster and
readers’ letters and art instead.
Book 8, in issue 9: Trouser Island. Because
of the pressure on time this one was drawn actual size, rather
than being drawn extra large and shrunk down. A later
non-Baxendale book, Traffic Island, parodied the same novel.
Don't tell anyone, but I actually prefer the other one - at
least, it had a great impact on me as a child.
Issue 15: Sherlock Bones. All in black and
white. This one is not by Baxendale, and is probably drawn by
Mike Brown, but very few of these artists signed (or were
allowed to sign) their work in those days. Baxendale signed 13
of his 21. Sherlock Bones is a lot closer to a regular comic of
the time, in plot, dialogue, layout, characters, etc, with just
a nod of comic horror and badtime twists. It even has the
classic comic ending of the heroes being rewarded with a pile of
money (or in this case, tickets).
Issue 17: Marzipan of the Japes. This was
another “vintage” Baxendale book, and took him eleven days. By
this time, fan mail had been coming in for five or six weeks,
even from adults. British comics almost never got adult fan
mail. IPC magazines, one of the big two British comics
publishers (the other was DC Thompson, publisher of the Beano)
had never seen adult fan mail for its comics. So when Monster
Fun started to generate adult fan mail, they were intrigued.
This was a first. Although Baxendale had planned to do some
merely “good” stories to make time for the “classic” stories, it
made more sense for him to concentrate on just the classic, and
let others do some Badtime books as well. He asked his editor,
who of course was plunged into despair. Badtime books took much
longer to write than other stories, and would take much longer
to draw. But they had little choice, and so other artists
started to take on some Badtime books.
Issue 16: Ghoul Dilocks and the Three Scares.
very close imitation of Baxendale's style, and a lot of fun!
Issue 24: Dick Twerpin: in black and white
for some reason. Another great strip. Let's face it, they're all
Book 5, in issue 5: Red Riding Hood. This,
the fifth Badtime book was one of the best, with crazy stuff
packed into every square inch. Just insane fun like Dr Who's
TARDIS passing by, or a dubious guide to the lifecycle of the
elephant. (To see how good these things are you need to compare
them with normal strips of the time, in their original size.)
This piece took ten days to complete: one day for the script and
nine for penciling and inking. The comic came out every week, so
you can see why the Badtime book sometimes missed an issue. As a
kid reading the comic I thought the editors just didn’t bother
with a Badtime book those weeks. But now I realize that they
knew perfectly well how important they were.
Book 6, in issue 6: Jack and the
Beanstalk. Baxendale had a short rest after Red Riding
Hood, then this new classic took over nine days to complete. It
was worth the wait. I should maybe comment that American readers
may be amazed that a four page comic can take ten days to write
and draw, especially when the finished result looks good but
nothing stunning. But you have to remember that this is an
entire story. There is more pleasure and satisfaction to be had
in those four pages than in a typical twenty page superhero
comic. After seeing these I never got over my sense of
disappointment that twenty page American comics seemed so empty.
(With a few notable exceptions of course.)
Issue 12: Little Miss Stuffit. The previous
book was produced quite quickly, allowing more time for this
classic. The memorable ideas, the dark humour, and the little
details are vintage Baxendale. As an "under the bedclothes
reader" myself, I could really identify with the little kids in
the stories. One highlight is when the kid in bed looks at you,
the reader, and tells you to go away because he's having his
bedtime story and you're just being nosy.
In this book you can see that the printing quality wasn't really
good enough for the tiny text. Sometimes the writing is almost
obliterated by the dots in the background colours. But it's
worth the effort to decipher the crazy stuff.
Issue 14: Oliver Twister. All in black and
white. This was another “quick” Badtime book. Baxendale realized
he couldn’t produce his very best work in just seven days, and
he didn’t want to compromise. So his plan was to produce maybe
two or three merely “good” books then one “vintage” classic,
then two or three good, then one classic, and so on.
Issue 11: I Spy with my little Guy. All in
black and white. This was the first book that apparently wasn't
by Baxendale (see the comments elsewhere about some books
needing more than seven days to write). If so, the creative team
have tried very hard to mimic his style. The kids, the humour,
even the ducks have his distinctive look, though the final
picture of Rottingsocks doesn't look quite right. The whole
story seems modeled on his earlier classic strip, "Eagle Eye
Issue 18: Star Truck A nice little story
about bin men trying to win the award for best truck... notable
for the giant monster Mickey Mouse. Page 7 is my favorite,
combining classic Baxendale monsters and British streets with
the "giant fish supper as reward" motif. It's hard for modern
readers to realize that, for the entire history of the world
(and still in most countries), the natural state of children was
to be hungry.
Issue 19: Moby Duck: one of my
Issue 21: Little Bo Creep:
Hand lettered by Baxendale - see the difference!
Issue 23: King Arthur and the Nightmares of the
Round Table - a lovely bit of fun, continuing the core
tradition of taking the reader to exotic places with classic
stories, with a comic horror twist.
Issue 25: The Underwater World of Jacques
Custard This one is just full of Baxendale hallmarks:
crazy tiny kids, flying stuff, underwater stuff, TV, very strong
villain character, anarchy, crazy asides, the cat, and even the
classic mad factory at the end. Lovely stuff!
Issue 30: Dick Twittington: This is
the only badtime book by the immortal Terry Bave, and is signed
at the foot of the title page. Back in those days almost no
comic art was signed, so the signed Badtime books were very
unusual. Mr B was probably the most recognizable IPC artist in
the 1970s, and his style pretty much defined IPC comics.
Issue 26: Babes in the Woad: All in black
and white. Baxendale considered this one of his "vintage"
strips. It features Roman armies and all the usual gags.
Issue 28: William the Conk (reprinted in
the 1982 annual) A very nice piece, with familiar Baxendale
touches like details of Rottingsocks' life, and the monsters in
the bed - both of which could have come straight from Willy The
Kid, which was created soon after. I particularly like how the
story has just a tiny bit more genuine history than we might
expect. I like the hint of real depth amidst all the nonsense.
Issue 72: At the Apple's Core: That was the
last ever badtime bedtime book in the pages of Monster Fun, and
it's a good one. It's the end of an era. There was one more
Monster Fun (issue 73) but the centre pages showed who was going
to merge with Buster. But do not fear! There are still the annuals and specials....
Issue 32: The Ghoul and the Pussycat: Not a classic in my opinion, but still fun.
Issue 41: A Fist Full of Chips - this Wild
West parody could be classified as "uninspired but still very
funny." It's like a pantomime where every line has to be a joke,
no matter how old or forced. But we have to remember that these
were aimed at little kids - to them all this stuff was novel,
fresh, new, and memorable. Compared with any other use of four
pages in a comic this was a classic.
Issue 39: Doctor Poo If the Badtime Bedtime
Books are ever reprinted (and I sincerely hope they will be one
day) this will need to be near the front. Not because it's the
best (though it is quite fun) but because a parody of Tom
Baker's Dr Who is still instantly recognizable and
understandable more than thirty years later. Though a very long
essay could be written on the 1970s references in this strip,
from TV to domestic arrangements to postal service and beyond.
Issue 37: Half a Dollar (12 1/2p) Boy: This
story later became a regular strip in Krazy Comic, "Steve Ford,
the 12 1/2 p Buytonic Boy"!
Issue 34: Gong of Kong: All in black and
white. I really like the opening page, with a giant ape in the
kind of street that I grew up in. It all felt so familiar.
Except for the giant ape part of course. The giant ape (and
giant eye at the window) idea, from King Kong, was used by
Baxendale in his Willie the Kid books and no doubt elsewhere.
Issue 43: Planet of the Japes: This is
another story where you can see the difference between the
Baxendale strips and the others. This is more like a regular
comic, following the well trodden path of kids at school, with
some kind of twist, this time being set in outer space. It's a
nice enough story, and ticks all the boxes, but it's not
off-the-wall crazy or slightly disturbing like the best badtime
Issue 47: Cooljock: I hate to say it, but
if pushed I'd probably say this is the "least inspired" badtime
book. This is no insult to the writer or artist: they were
probably in a hurry. The story is probably beter than the Hound
of the Backstreet Villa, but it and the story both seem rushed,
and the jokes seem forced and unfunny. But that's just me. It's
probably someone else's favorite.
Issue 48: Ten Little Renegades: All in black
and white. Another story supposedly written by Jack the Nipper,
but this time of course not by Baxendale - it's still a nice
story, but the difference is striking, especially in the
lettering. This lettering is clear and readable, but Baxendale's
own "Jack the Nipper" lettering was just insane and wonderful.
Issue 50: The Scarlet Pimply-Neddy:
A historical epic! reprinted in the 1981 annual.
Issue 51: Mummy's the Word: All in
black and white. Another classic story that takes you to exotic
locations to meet amazing characters with great stories to tell.
And this one guest stars Dr Poo!
Issue 56: The Greatest Escape: A very nice
parody on "the Great Escape." A strong plot and strong
characters (this story lends itself well to the 1970s comic
format). A highlight is the big maze... I've always liked
mazes... come to think of it, a very large number of my personal
interests can be traced to my childhood experience with Badtime
Books. No wonder I'm so messed up... :)
Issue 58: Rumpimpleskin This story, by Mike
Brown, is a return to the original Badtime book concept, with
the emphasis on the "badtime." As with Baxendale's best badtime
books it has a gruesome villain and a black humour twist at the
end. It also sticks to parodying the original story (instead of
completely ignoring it as many badtime books do) which is a plus
in my book - I like a good parody.
Issue 61: The Hound of the Backstreet-villa
A fairly ordinary dog-versus-postman story with fairly
ordinary art. But there are some nice touches, in particular the
editorial comments. It feels like the writer knows he's doing a
bog-standard forgettable story, but is enjoying it anyway.
Issue 69: The McCurse o' Red Hairy McLegs Every
Scottish cliche you could possibly want! Haggis, Bonnie Prince
Charlie, Porridge, hoots mon and och aye the noo! But of course
we should remember that for the target audience, the under tens,
these ideas are all new: the cutting-edge of literature,
history, and comedy.
Issue 70: The Ghoulies Anyone who
lived in Britain in the 1970s will remember the Goodies, and
will appreciate this affectionate parody. A lovely piece of
Issue 62: Space: 999 This is one of my
favorite badtime books. I'm a sucker for science fiction, and
this one has it all: even pirates! And a cameo by Mickey Mouse's
dog... they wouldn't get away with that in today's litigious
times. A lovely example of what badtime books are all about. I
was going to add the complete book to the website, but for
copyright reasons I'm trying to exercise self-restraint.
Issue 64: The Wonderful World of Hannibal A
really different kind of badtime book. Very creative, very fresh
(even though I don't get half of the references), all about
Hannibal the frog, with lots of elephants, armies, and
educational pages about nature. Weird and wonderful!
Issue 71: Supa Spyderbat: This seems to be
influenced by the UK Marvel Spider-man comic, which at this time
(mid 1970s) was called "Super Spider-man" with a similar logo.
It was natural to make the link with Superman, as in this story.
It's interesting to see Rottingsocks in his own strip, and to
see the difference in writing and art. It's obviously trying to
copy Baxendale's style, but it's very obviously different. More
formal in its layout, more predictable in the jokes and asides,
without Baxendale's trademark gruesome ending and
characters-who-hate-each-other. It's more like a regular comic
strip, though still fun. It ends as usual with Rottingsocks
asking readers to write in and to tell him their favorite
stories. Which is a very good idea, since it gives the writers
some guidance - badtime books were notoriously difficult to
write, since they required so many new ideas. But it's also a
sad note, since that was the last but one issue and no more
badtime books would ever be written, except for the occasional
annual or special.
Book 1, in issue 1: Jack the Nipper. Crazy
Little kids have been Baxendale’s hallmark over the years. Jack
the Nipper started as a rough pencil idea, the same size as the
comic, intended as a concept to show the publishers. They liked
it so much they decided to put it in the first issue, and gave
Baxendale TWO DAYS to finish it! So he only had time to ink in
the small size rough version. Normally these things were drawn
at a much larger scale, with maybe a day spent on each page, and
then the finished result is inked, colored, lettered, and shrunk
to fit the comic. But Baxendale had to do everything on the tiny
comic-sized rough draft to meet the deadline. As he said, this
was “a good recipe for going blind if done regularly.”
Badtime Bedtime Storybook Checklist
Issue 20: Humpty Dumpty - this is the only
classic badtime book to not have the mini-comic format. I still
call it a classic badtime book because it has every other
element in spades! A dark parody of a classic story, filled with
craziness, and all by Leo Baxendale at his loony best. The
middle pages of MF issue 20 contained a pull-out poster of
Frankie Stein, but pages 14 and 19 had this "Badtime Bedtime
Special Story." I suspect this is a direct result of the
Baxendale's need for more time, but nobody else was yet ready to
take on a badtime bok. So a half size story plus a poster was a
fair compromise. Note: this would fit perfectly in one of
Baxendale's later "Willy the Kid" books.
All comic art copyright IPC magazines (1970s) and
Egmont International (today).
Thanks to Scandy, Irmantas, Muffy, the Hornet, Toonhound, Peter
Gray, John Pollock, Al, and Andy & Sharon Laney-Davis
for most of the scans. Thanks to Kashgar, Lew Stringer, Bustercomic, philcom55
and SteveZodiac of comicsuk.co.uk
for general help and information. And of course thanks to Leo
Baxendale and all the writers, artists and editors who created
these gems in the first place! If you know something about the
badtime books, something that isn't already here, let me know!
My address is tolworthy at hotmail dot com.
Book 3, in issue 3: Punch and Chewday
This is one of Baxendale’s personal favorites (and
one of mine). He says it shows his work at its best, with a
strong central character and panels full of extra fun, or
“everything but the kitchen sink” as his editor enthusiastically
Every Monster Fun Issue and Badtime book number,
1: 1 - Jack The Nipper's Schooldays(Baxendale)
2: 2 - Robinson Gruesome(Bax)
3: 3 - Punch and Chewday(Bax)
4: 4 - Dr Jackal and Dr Snide(Bax)
5: 5 - Little "Red" Riding Hood(Bax)
6: 6 - Jack and the Beans (in tomato sauce) Stalk(Bax)
7: 7 - Little Boy Glue(Bax)
8: - poster of kid kong
9: 8 - Trouser Island(Bax)
10: 9 - Davey Jones(Bax)
11: 10 - I Spy with my little Guy(Ghosted)
12: 11 - Little Miss Stuffit(Bax)
13: - monsters booklet
14: 12 - Oliver Twister(Bax)
15: 13 - Sherlock Bones(Mike Brown)
16: 14 - Ghoul Dilocks and the Three Scares.(Ghosted)
17: 15 - Marzipan of the Japes(Bax)
18: 16 - Star Truck(Bax)
19: 17 - Moby Duck(Bax)
20: 18 - Humpty Dumpty(Bax)
21: 19 - Little Bo Creep(Bax)
22: -Draculass Poster
23: 20 - King Arthur & the Nightmares of the Round
24: 21 - Dick Twerpin(Bax
25: 22 - The Underwater World of Jacques Custard(Bax)
26: 23 - Babes in the Woad(Bax)
27: 24 - Dough Nut & Rusty Poster
28: 25 - William the Conk(Bax)
30: 26 - Dick Twittington (Special Panto issue)(Terry Bave)
31: -Creature Teacher Poster
32: 27 - The Ghoul and the Pussycat(Terry Bave)
34: 28 - Gong of Kong(Bax?)
35: -Action comic promo
36: -Badtime Bedtime Poster(Bax?)
37: 29 - The Half a Dollar BoyTerry Bave
39: 30 - Dr Poo
40: -Teddy Scare Poster
41: 31 - A fist full of chips
42: -Monster Jigsaw
43: 32 - Planet of the Japes
44: -X-ray Specs Poster
45: -Man Made Monsters Booklet
46: -Easter Egg Race Game
47: 33 - CooljockNo
48: 34 - Ten Little Renegades
49: - - Monster Gags Booklet
50: 35 - The Scarlet Pimply-Neddy(Bax?)
51: 36 - Mummy's the Word
52: -Monster Mix Ups Game Part 1
53: -Monster Mix Ups Game Part 1
54: -Monster Mix Ups Game Part 1
55: -Monster Mix Ups Game Part 1
56: 37 - The Greatest Escape
57: -Monster Fun HQ Poster
58: 38 - Rumpimpleskin
60: -Terror TV Poster
61: 39 - The Hound of the Backstreet-villa
62: 40 - Space: 999
64: 41 - The Wonderful World of Hannibal
65: -Land of the Monsters
66: -Land of the Monsters
67: -Land of the Monsters
68: -Land of the Monsters
69: 42 - The McCurse o' Red Hairy McLegs
70: 43 - The Ghoulies
71: 44 - Supa Spyderbat
72: 45 - At The Apples Core
73: Important News