On the 13th of February 1954, a half-page story by the name of
'When the Bell Rings' debuted. Apparently inspired by the view from
the Beano Office window, which overlooked Dundee High School's
playground, the strip depicted the joyous explosion of children
from the confines of the classroom when the home-time bell rang.
The pen of Leo Baxendale, already busy on 'Little Plum' and
Minx', was responsible for this breakthrough in comic form,
varying between traditional comic strip panels and full page scenes
crammed with figures involved in all sorts of mischief.
Originally these strips and scenes would involve dozens of
unruly pupils and hapless teachers, but before too long the focus
became the kids of Class IIB, with Danny, Plug, Smiffy, Toots and
Sid, Wilfrid, Erbert, Spotty and Fatty gaining in prominence. In
November of 1956, the title was changed to the more familiar 'The
Bash Street Kids', though by this time the kids had already burst
out of the school gates and out of the pages of The Beano, having
appeared in prose stories and cover strips in the adventure paper,
'The Wizard' in 1955.
Leo Baxendale continued to draw the chaotic class until 1962, by
which time the strip had grown in size into a double page spread.
His successor was David Sutherland, a former advertising artist
whose earlier work had included producing 8 foot high paintings of
major Hollywood stars for cinemas in Glasgow. His earliest Beano
work was on adventure strips like 'Danny On A Dolphin' and 'The Great
Flood of London'. Taking over from Leo on 'The Bashers' (as Dave
calls them) saw his talents taken into a new direction, crazy
comedy, which has served him well on Bash Street duties to this
day, and also when he succeeded Davey Law on 'Dennis the
The kids' popularity has been shown in various spin-offs,
including annuals and summer specials, as well as in the pages of
The Beano, where a set of mischievous mutts matching their human
owners in looks and attitude, the Bash Street Pups, debuted in 'Pup Parade' in
1967, while class dimwit, Smiffy, has had his own spin-off strips
in the 1970s - testing readers' inventions in 'Save Smiffy'- and
the 1980s, simply titled 'Simply Smiffy'. More recent years have
seen the introduction of 'Singled Out', featuring solo turns from
the individual kids. And, in 1977, Class IIB's resident heartthrob
(he wishes!!!), Plug, was given his own self-titled comic (and the
full name of Percival Plugsley), a glossy, madcap production that
lasted 75 weeks before merging with 'The Beezer'.
'The Bash Street Kids' continue to occupy the centre spread of
The Beano to this day, still drawn by David Sutherland - with
occasional fill in episodes over the years drawn by Nigel
Parkinson, John Sherwood, and others. The antics of the kids of
Class IIB and their long-suffering Teacher - with occasional
support from the school's Head, Olive the world's worst dinner
lady, school swot Cuthbert Cringeworthy, Janitor, and his cat
Winston - continue to provide top class laughs.
Head over to the Bash Street Kids section of beano.com to
download some Class-IIC Class IIB wallpaper!