books in annuals & specials
= Monster Fun B&MF = Buster &
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
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!
special: no badtime story
1976 MF special: no badtime story
1977 MF annual: Ye Badtime Bedtime Nursery Rhymes: drawn
by Terry Bave
B&MF holiday special: Chipwrecked 20 Leaps beneath the
Sea by Mike Brown
"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
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
B&MF special: (No title), An inventor turns his
assistant into Weatherman
annual: Boggles: drawn by "Group Captain Brown"
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
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...
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
1982-1995 B&MF holiday specials: no badtime books. (Sob!)
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!
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!
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
books: The Next Generation
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!
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
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?
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!
books: after the comics
Monster Fun comic was published in 1976. But like the monsters
they described, the Badtime books refused to die!
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.)
comic art copyright IPC magazines (1970s) and Egmont
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 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 any Badtime related
information, please let me know! My email address is tolworthy
at hotmail dot com.
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