badtime: checklist
Badtime books in annuals & specials
MF = Monster Fun      B&MF = Buster & Monster Fun
1978 MF annual: Two original badtime books! First, the excellent Starchy and Butch: drawn by Mike Brown. I should mention that the 1978 Monster Fun annual probably had a greater impact on me than any other comic. My first ever comic was Monster Fun 6 (or maybe 4?) in 1976, and by 1977 (when the 1978 annual was sold) I was at the perfect age to appreciate it. For months I begged for this book for Christmas, and I was not disappointed! I recently saw this story for the first time in nearly thirty years, and could remember every frame. Scary.

Also in the 1978 Monster Fun annual Traffic Island: drawn by "Robert Looney Stevedore." This is my all time favorite comic story, bar none. the art and dialog and jokes are nothing special, but the idea was life changing. The idea of a street roundabout containing a jungle that is literally packed full of amazing stuff, with always something new to discover by hacking through the undergrowth... worlds within worlds, the infinite and fantastic hidden within the small and mundane... that really appeals to me. As Leonard Rottingsocks says it's "a tale of a place where few men have dared set foot - yet it could be in your town... in your district... maybe even at the end of your street!", It sums up everything I want from a story.

EDIT, 2013: Just noticed the similarity to J.G. Ballard's book "Concrete Island" published in 1974!

1975 MF special: no badtime story

1976 MF special: no badtime story

1977 MF annual: Ye Badtime Bedtime Nursery Rhymes: drawn by Terry Bave
1977 B&MF holiday special: Chipwrecked 20 Leaps beneath the Sea by Mike Brown
1978: "Cheeky Weekly" had a series called "Creepy Sleepy Tales." They were badtime bedtime books in all but name, and even the name was a homage. They are presented as horror stories, each is a completely new story, loosely based on a classic novel or literary theme. They even begin with a little kid being tucked up in bed and end with an unnerving twist in the tale!

At this time, in 1978, real Monster Fun annuals were still being published, so they probably thought it would be confusing to have the badtime brand name suddenly appear in an unrelated comic. (Though not entirely unrelated: Cheeky starred a character from Krazy comic, and Krazy's center pages starred the Buytonic boy, originally from the badtime books!)

The first example here, about a genie, is a lovely piece of work. The Cheeky Weekly comic was built around seven days of stories introduced by Cheeky himself, so I've included the introduction page as well. These scans are courtesy of Peter Gray, from his huge and invaluable comics blog. If you haven't visited his site yet what are you waiting for? Go on! Now! Don't worry, I'll still be here when you get back.

This second Creepy Sleepy Tale here is from the 1979  Cheeky annual. It's still a nice story, but nobody could call it a classic. 

The Creepy Sleepy Tales are especially interesting because they illustrate the difference between a true badtime book and a well meaning wannabe. They are similar in many ways, but the Creepy Sleepy Tales lack the length, so cannot develop a deep story. And they are not pull-out books, so lack the separate identity, the tactile experience of creating your own separate book, and the feeling of having a really substantial story world to explore. (Yes, I know that these things are hardly War and Peace, but remember that they're aimed at under tens who probably didn't read many real books.)

Ironically, one of Cheeky's other regular strips had exactly those elements that the Creepy Sleepy Tales lacked, while sharing nothing else in common with badtime books. On Tuesdays Cheeky would slip into his Dad's attic, with his torch, and open a secret trunk, and discover a classic comic from the 1940s or 1950s. This had exactly the feeling of discovery and importance that the other badtime-book-lite lacked. If only the two concepts could have reunited as they did in the original badtime books.
1978 B&MF special: (No title), An inventor turns his assistant into Weatherman
1979 MF annual: Boggles: drawn by "Group Captain Brown" (Mike Brown)
1980 MF annual: Aladdin and His Wonderful Tramp: drawn by Mike Brown. This is one of the best Badtime Bedtime books, a particularly brilliant tale, stuffed with Star Wars references! The story imitates Baxendale's art and writing styles, yet is actually far better than the genuine Baxendale story (Robinson Gruesome, from Monster Fun 2) that's reprinted earlier in the annual.
1979 B&MF 'Spring Special': 'Short Tall Story' about a short cabin boy who joins some pirates and is bullied but soon gets his own back...
1981 B&MF special: 'Horror Holiday': some boys save their pocket money to go on holiday to the wild west, where they visit a ghost town

1982 MF annual: reprints William the Conk from issue 28)

1982-1995 B&MF holiday specials: no badtime books. (Sob!)

1983 MF annual: One Billion Years B.C. (Before Comics): a prehistoric romp drawn by Mike Brown

1984-1985 MF annuals: no badtime books.

Can you help fill in the gaps? Thanks!
1980 B&MF special: 'Monster Mystery Tour': an alien abducts a boy from a beach and takes him to his planet, when he finds out how plentiful sand (very valuable on his planet) is on earth he takes the boy back.

1981 MF summer special: ??

1981 MF annual reprints The Scarlet PimplyNeddy from issue 50, with slight changes to the first and last panels. Unusually, the changes make it quite clear that this is a reprint. Thanks to "The Hornet" for the information and scans!
1983 Shiver and Shake annual had another badtime book in all but name: Uncle Fester's Gory Story - Robin Blood and His Merry Vampires. It's classic badtime book in almost every way, and even the name is similar. It's a comic horror parody of a classic story, in 8 pages, with puns and little asides near the margins. I guess they didn't call it a badtime book because the title is reserved for Monster Fun (and Buster after the comics merged). The odd thing is, it looks like a reprint - but from where? From Shiver and Shake? But that comic merged with Whoopee in 1974, a year before the first badtime books appeared. Quite the mystery!
Badtime books: The Next Generation
The last Monster Fun annual was laid to rest in 1985, and the badtime books died with them. OR DID THEY???? They had already spawned their monstrous offspring in other comics, and just when you think one has been vanquished another one rises to take its place. Badtime books, like the monsters they describe,  keep on rising from the grave!
...which brings us to the 1990s. Big Comic Fortnightly unexpectedly resurrected the badtime books in a new form, adding a "Badtime Bedtime Story" heading to old two page stories that seemed to fit the badtime style.

Issue 49 (dated 14-27 April 1990) had a story based on the goose that laid the golden egg.

Issue 51(dated 12-25 May 1990) had a story about a witch who awoke from centuries of sleep to discover the modern world.

Issue 52 (dated 26 May - 8 June 1990) had a story about an escaped snake.

Do you know of any more?

Sadly the 1990s saw the general decline of the traditional comic story, in favor of free gift based TV tie-in magazines. The old IPC humor comics were replaced by reprints and then died off one by one. Otherwise the badtime books would probably still be with us. But who knows what the future will bring?
Finally, "Funny Monthly" from February 1992 featured a badtime book reprint on its front cover! This is the most recent reprint I know of, unless you know better? It's good to see that, sixteen years after the two year run ended, badtime books are still popular enough that the three words "badtime bedtime book" are all you need on a cover to sell a comic!

And that's us nearly up to date. A badtime book featured briefly in a 2007 TV show on British comics, and they do a good trade on eBay, but that's about all I know. If you've spotted a badtime book in the wild, or you know of any badtime books (or almost-badtime books) that I've missed, or you know anything that might be of interest to this site, please let me know!
Badtime books: after the comics
The last Monster Fun comic was published in 1976. But like the monsters they described, the Badtime books refused to die!
Pull-out mini comics briefly returned in 1984. Whoopee comic (dated 3rd Nov 1984) have part 1 of a pullout comic stating on the cover, 'possibly the World's Smallest comic', starring Sweeny toddler. But unlike the badtime books, these were much longer, extended stories based on existing characters. Much like the small size "Beano comic libraries" or other digest sized comics (Commando, Donald Duck, etc.)

All comic art copyright IPC magazines (1970s) and Egmont International (today).

Thanks to
Scandy, Irmantas, Muffy, the Hornet, Toonhound, Peter Gray, John Pollock, and Andy & Sharon Laney-Davis for most of the scans. Thanks to Kashgar, Lew Stringer, Bustercomic, philcom55 and SteveZodiac of 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 any Badtime related information, please let me know! My email address is tolworthy at hotmail dot com.

What makes a classic badtime bedtime book?

The badtime books led to a number of spin-offs that were not quite 'real' badtime books. In my opinion, 'real' badtime books feature most (but usually not all) of the following:

1. The name (and most appeared in Monster Fun)
2. Eight pages (this is essential) - usually made from four pages folded over. The Badtime Books inspired later strips with the same or similar names, but without the pull out concept they are not the same. Part of the enjoyment was the tactile enjoyment of creating a book with your own hands.
3. An original story, loosely based on a cultural classic, or a theme that's not been covered in a badtime book before. Often in exotic locations.
4. Often a horror theme, but always played for laughs that under-tens appreciate.
5. A splash page that shows the under-the-bedclothes reader, in bed, often scared
6. A final word from Leonard Rottingsocks
7. Occasional appearances by Rottingsocks, the reader, Jack the Nipper, Dr Poo, etc.
8. Off topic humor in the corners of the pages, including fake adverts
9. Word puns in any empty spaces, often with a recurring theme (e.g. ink blots)
10. A dark humor twist at the end (this is important!)