Now it’s all phones, mixed with tablets, topped with a bit of tech for the kids to amuse themselves.

It saddened me when walking through a major supermarket ‘news’ aisle the other day, I saw, lurking on the bottom shelf untouched and unloved, a few copies of the most recent Beano comic.

The sad truth is these are now pretty much relics of the past as the youth today just don’t read comics. There are a few reasons for this: firstly, as outlined, the tech competition, secondly the quality (they are now like pamphlets), thirdly the cost (it’s now nigh on three quid to read up on Dennis’ latest adventures, with other comics costing a fiver and upwards) and lastly, they have gone all ‘PC’.

Freddy is the artist formerly known as ‘Fatty’ from the Bash Street Kids. Catapults, pea shooters, the slipper, cane and belt have also gone for a burton. Spotty is now Scotty, yet Mike Stirling, the creative director at Beano Studios rightly says, “It doesn’t matter if Dave, 58, from Nottingham can’t understand why things can’t always stay the way they were”, in defence of the rebranded Bash Street Kids who now include new characters such as Harsha, Mandri, Kharija, Mahira and Stevie Starr amongst their troupe, to, sensibly, appeal to specific subsets of their target market.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Brett Ellis thinks tech is the reason kids don't read comics anymoreBrett Ellis thinks tech is the reason kids don't read comics anymore

There was a deluge of ‘war’ comics before we veered our kids away from such things: maybe it was a long-drawn-out hangover from WWII with Battle running from 1975-1988. With characters such as Darkies mob, led by Joe Darkie who had, by his own admission, ‘a screw loose’ and loved nothing better than ‘gunning down the japs’ as they shouted ‘banzai’.

Nothing I have written in that previous sentence is akin to the modern era so, understandably, they lost the war, and also the Battle.

But my favourite wasn’t any of the above or the Beezer, but Roy of the Rovers, who transferred for an undisclosed fee from Tiger to head his own comic from 1976-1993. As England’s best-ever centre forward (who didn’t retire until his late 60s I would guess), he played for Melchester Rovers and was your Johnny on the spot if ever there was one. 

But, alas, times move on. Three quid these days doesn’t buy you much and comics, as we knew them, are now to be frequented in ‘vintage’ shops where you can pay through the nose to relive a few memories from your youth as you smell the musty paper and wonder whose name is written in pencil on the front cover right-hand corner.

It’s a shame, but I for one believe, as with vinyl, in years to come, when tech becomes old hat, we will again see the likes of Desperate Dan and Melchester Roy making a comeback as the old uns’ are still the best, aren’t they?

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher.