DENNIS the Menace and the Four Marys may not have been real children, but many wished they were.

Such comic favourites brightened up many youngsters' days with their scrapes, sagas and dare-devil personalities, indulging in new adventures every week.

Whether you were into sci-fi and history, boarding schools and ballerinas, ghosts and ghouls or just great pictures, there was something on the shelves for you.

Bill Fields, aged 50, used to enjoy classic children's magazine Look And Learn.

It was more informative than the comics, he remembers, and he would often look for fishing, hunting and shooting articles.

"I was about nine when I used to buy it," said Bill. "It had this historical feel to it, whereas all other comics were fictional.

"There was another comic called The Eagle, which looked quite similar. It looked intelligent.

"The thing I remember most about it was an interesting article on fishing and why you wouldn't necessarily want to drink water that fishes had been swimming in."

The magazine featured the long-running comic strip The Trigan Empire, as well as a Pen-Friends page, where readers could make new friends overseas.

Bill also used to buy Superman and Spiderman comics, and The Victor. It was a chance to see the side of life you were not always supposed to, he says.

"In about 1968 when the original Batman TV programme came on TV, my mother wouldn't let me watch it in case I got the notion to jump out of the window, which apparently was the craze at the time. It was an opportunity to see things you weren't supposed to."

The Desert Rats was another favourite. It was a comic strip in one of the comics he bought, he says, about soldiers who rode around in a Land Rover with great big machine guns. "It was the original SAS before anyone had even heard of them," he said. "I used to think it was great. They got themselves into scrapes every week."

York writer Donna Hay used to love reading the weekly comics. She would read them all, she says, every Saturday, when her grandmother bought them back from the sweet shop.

Donna remembers reading Jinty, Bunty and Wizzer & Chips, which was more of a boy's magazine, like Beano.

Her favourite was Bunty. The magazine promoted a life that was different, she says.

"It was all about girls at boarding school like the Four Marys. They went to St Elmo's boarding school and it was all about the jolly japes they got up to. It was all picture stories and it was the stories I liked the best."

The stories all concerned girls overcoming adversity, she says. "They were all very poor but wanted to be ballerinas. I would sit there and read them to my grandmother. I would describe each picture and read the caption and she would be in tears. It was a real bonding experience."

As a teenager in the 1970s, she liked Jackie. It was the Bible for all the girls at school, she recalls. It was about boys, fashion and how to get rid of your spots. There were a couple of stories too.

Her favourite part, though, was the problem page with Cathy and Claire. "We used to read that avidly and have a huge laugh over the problem page. It was our favourite thing at school."

Donna's first job was actually writing photo stories for a teenage magazine, where she met some of the people who had inspired her as a child.

She grew up with magazines, and loved being part of them.

"I longed to go to boarding school when I was reading Bunty - it was all I wanted," she said.

  • What are your memories of the past? Tell Charlotte Percival on 01904 653051 or email

Comics for boys




TV Comic




Boy's World

TV Century 21

The Beezer

Roy Of The Rovers

The Wizard



Battle Picture Weekly



The Topper





Comics for girls



Princess Tina






Comics for boys and girls

Look And Learn


Whizzer & Chips

Monster Fun


Harold Hare's Own Paper


TV Toyland