DC Thomson Comics Timeline

[Updated 20180907! Scroll all the way down to the end to see the update notes!]

After three family trees focussing on IPC/Fleetway comics, it’s time to take a look at their main rival, the noble Scottish house of DC Thomson, not to be confused with DC Comics (or even DC Thompson with a P as some people — probably Tintin fans — insist on spelling it).

None of the DCT family trees are as wide-ranging or as varied as the IPC trees, so instead I’ve decided to compile all of the DCT titles into one easy-to-misunderstand chart. Not merely a simple family tree this time around, folks: this one is also a time-line! As before, each entry has a “card” containing the most important info (title, cover of the first issue, start date, end date and number of issues), but this time each card on the chart is stretched (or shrunk) to illustrate the duration of the comic’s existence.

For example: Sparky was launched on January 23rd 1965 and ran until July 9th 1977, so the top of its card sits just below the 1965 line and the bottom of its card is a little past the half-way mark between the 1977 and 1978 lines. Simple-peasy-lemon-sherbet! Except it’s not so simple when it comes to comics that weren’t around long enough to take up a full card. In those cases, I’ve scaled the card down so that its top and bottom are in line with its start and end dates, and then — because it’ll be useful to actually see the data — I’ve also provided full-size standard card floating over the scaled-down version. Hopefully, this will make sense to other people as well as to me.

This chart isn’t 100% accurate, sad to say. Information on some of the DC Thomson publications — especially the digest-sized comics and those aimed at girls — has been infuriatingly hard to pin down, and in some cases I’ve had to go for approximations and assumptions. To take one example: all the sources seem to agree that Mandy Picture Story Library ran for 277 issues and ended in 1997, but nowhere have I been able to find out when in 1997 the final issue appeared. Likewise, I know that Patches magazine lasted for at least 515 issues because that’s the most recent issue I’ve been able to find, cover-dated Jan 6 1989, but I’ve no idea whether that was the final issue (the cover, unhelpfully, doesn’t say “Final issue!”), so for all I know Patches carried on well into 1989, or even into the 1990s. (Update: Nope, turns out Patches was absorbed by Blue Jeans around that time — more on this later on!)

So I do apologise for any inaccuracies or errors. It’s possible, and even likely, that more accurate info will turn up at some stage, so there’s a strong chance I’ll be revisiting and revising this chart.

Anyway, all digressions aside, here’s the highly reducified version of the DC Thomson Comics Timeline… Click on it for the very, very large full-size version!

DC Thomson timeline 3s

And now, something that wasn’t but should have been included in the previous family trees: a list of all the participating titles, including relevant details… Much handier for searching than scrolling around a giant image!

adventure

Adventure
From: 17 September 1921
To: 14 January 1961
Issues: 1878
Absorbed: Red Arrow
Absorbed into: The Rover

A story paper, the first of DC Thomson’s “Big Five” titles and the one that kicked it all off.

roverThe Rover
From: 4 March 1922
To: 20 January 1973
Issues: 2481
Absorbed: Adventure, The Wizard (1922)
Absorbed into: The Wizard (1970)

Initially a story-paper, another one of the “Big Five.” The Rover began to introduce comic-strips when it absorbed Adventure on 21 January 1961.

wizardv1The Wizard (1922)
From: 23 September 1922
To: 16 November 1963
Issues: 1970
Absorbed into: The Rover

Another one of the “Big Five.” I don’t consider the 1970 The Wizard to be another version or even a relaunch of the same comic: aside from the seven-year gap between the two titles, the 1970 version restarted its numbering from #1.

vanguardThe Vanguard
First issue: 13 October 1923
Last issue: 22 May 1926
Issues: 136

Little is known about this title… A friend of mine “reckons” it was absorbed into Adventure but there’s little actual evidence of that (for example: a cover of Adventure bearing the Vanguard logo would count as proof of a merger.)

midgetcomicThe Midget Comic
First issue: 5 June 1930
Last issue: 12 September 1930
Issues: 4

A series of mini comics given away free with The Wizard (1920); very probably these were DC Thomson’s first tentative steps into proper comic-book territory. Details are vague, but apparently other similar comics came free with other DCT publications.They tested the water and then paved the way for The Dandy and The Beano.

skipperThe Skipper
First issue: 6 September 1930
Last issue: 1 February 1941
Issues: 544

Another one of DC Thomson’s “Big Five” story-papers. The Skipper (the title presumably referring to the nautical appellation and not the twirling rope and “My mother says…” pastime so beloved of young children in the days before internet) was well-regarded but paper shortages during World War II led to its demise.

redarrowThe Red Arrow
From: 19 March 1932
To: 18 March 1933
Issues: 52
Absorbed into: Adventure

A story-paper about which I know very little, sorry. I really ought to try to track down a copy or two one day. It lasted just shy of a year before disappearing into the pages of its better-selling stablemate Adventure.

hotspurv1The Hotspur
From: 2 September 1933
To: 17 October 1959
Issues: 1197
Relaunched as: The New Hotspur

Launched as a story-paper, another one of the “Big Five”, but began to incorporate comic-strips as they became more and more prevalent in other titles.

dandyThe Dandy
First issue: 4 December 1937
Last issue: 4 December 2012
Issues: 3610
Absorbed: Nutty, Hoot

A legendary comic by any standards, the home of Desperate Dan and dozens of other classic characters. For the first seven decades it didn’t really change much, but an attempt to “jazz up” and modernise the comic in 2007 — it was retitled Dandy Xtreme for a couple of years — wasn’t quite successful enough, and The Dandy was cancelled on its 75th birthday.

beanoThe Beano
First issue: 30 July 1938
Last issue: Ongoing
Issues: 3950+

Another classic, and one that’s still going strong, having recently celebrated its 80th birthday. One of my own favourite Beano strips was “The Bash Street Kids” which debuted in a single-panel strip titled When the Bell Rings in issue #604 (13 February 1954): it wasn’t until December 1956 that they appeared in regular strip format with the “Bash Street Kids” title. I also, as mentioned before, absolutely loved Billy Whizz!

magicv1The Magic Comic (1939)
First issue: 22 July 1939
Last issue: 25 January 1941
Issues: 80

DC Thomson’s third attempt at an ongoing comic-book, which unfortunately failed to capture the magic of The Dandy or The Beano and succumbed to paper shortages during WWII. Said paper shortages are one of the biggest reasons so few magazines and comics survive from that time: kids were encouraged to help the war effort by recycling comics, newspapers, magazine and anything else made of paper. During those rationing years The Beano and The Dandy shifted to a fortnightly schedule, alternating week on week.

topperThe Topper
First issue: 7 February 1953
Last issue: 15 September 1990
Issues: 1963
Absorbed: Sparky, Buzz
Relaunched as: The Beezer and Topper

The first post-war DC Thomson title, coming fourteen years after the launch of The Magic Comic. The Topper was initially an oversized “tabloid” comic, 30cm x 42cm (see Little Comics), which means that most surviving copies have a crease across the middle. In 1976 it absorbed Sparky, which appeared as a pull-out section in the middle that lasted until 1980 when The Topper was shrunk to A4 size.

beezerThe Beezer
First issue: 21 January 1956
Last issue: 15 September 1990
Issues: 1809
Absorbed: Cracker, Plug
Relaunched as: The Beezer and Topper

Another tabloid comic, very much a companion to The Topper (and, just as with The Beano and The Dandy, casual readers are occasionally confused as to which characters and stories belonged to which title). It was shrunk to A4 size in 1981, carried on for another nine years, and then was merged with The Topper.

goldenheartlovestoriesGolden Heart Love Stories
First issue: 1957
Last issue: March 1965
Issues: 97
Absorbed into: Star Love Stories

The first of DCT’s digest-sized comics, and also their first adult-targetted comic… Not their first adult-targetted publication: they’d been producing text-only romance story-papers for some time, but those are outside the scope of this blog (except in cases where the story-papers contained significant comic-strip content, such as The Rover, or where they’re strongly linked to existing comics, such as The Skipper, or when I decide that they’re relevant — I’m the boss here and I shall wield my lone iota of power as I see fit!). Relaunched as Star Love Stories with contiguous issue numbers.

loveandlifelibraryLove and Life Library
First issue: 1957
Last issue: March 1965
Issues: 96
Absorbed into: Star Love Stories

Info on the adult-orientated romance titles is often very sparse: in the case of these titles I’ve not been able to pin down the actual dates of their first issues. Very annoying, that. In fact, it’s endemic to almost all of DCT’s digest comics. Expect more complaining from me about it further on in this article.

romeoRomeo
First issue: 31 August 1957
Last issue: 14 September 1974
Issues: 890
Absorbed: Cherie
Absorbed into: Diana

A proper-sized romance comic! And look — in the issue pictured here (#8, 19th October 1957) there were nylons to be won by some lucky reader! Presumably, they’re talking about nylon stockings, not just any old thing made of that particular synthetic fibre. Early issues of Romeo reprinted some American romance comic strips.

silvermoonromancesSilver Moon Romances
First issue: 1958
Last issue: 1 March 1965
Issues: 86
Absorbed into: Star Love Stories

The third of DCT’s adult romance digest-sized comics. These were 64-page comics with a single stand-alone story, black-and-white interiors, usually two or three panels per page.

buntyBunty
First issue: 18 January 1958
Last issue: 17 February 2001
Issues: 2249
Absorbed: Suzy, Nikki for Girls, Mandy & Judy

Another classic, legendary comic. Bunty is one of those rare girls’ comics that made a lasting impression on British culture — just about everyone has heard of it. It’s as famous for the cut-out-and-dress-up dolls on the back page as it is for strips like “The Four Marys.” (Little-known factoid: The Damned — arguably the first ever punk rock group — crafted the lyrics to their song “Melody Lee” from dialogue found in issues of Bunty. In 1985 The Damned also recorded a song called “Grimly Fiendish” which was of course named after the notorious character who appeared in IPC’s Wham!)

bluerosetteromancesBlue Rosette Romances
First issue: 1959
Last issue: 1 April 1965
Issues: 79
Absorbed into: Star Love Stories

The fourth of the titles that ended up in Star Love Stories, of which more later. Observant readers will notice that I’m running out of things to say about these comics. Good thing this is the last of them, then. (DCT also published Secrets Story Library which clocked up an impressive 1500+ issues, but that’s not included here because it wasn’t a comic, even though it was the same physical size as this lot.)

hotspurv2The New Hotspur
From: 24 October 1959
To: 24 January 1981
Issues: 1110
Relaunch of: The Hotspur
Absorbed: The Hornet, The Crunch
Absorbed into: The Victor

With the introduction of comic strips, The Hotspur was relaunched and the issue numbers were reset to 1, so I consider it to be a separate publication. The title reverted to The Hotspur with issue #174 (16 Feb 1963), then became Hotspur with issue 882 (11 Sep 1976) — younger folks won’t recall how tough things were in those days, back during the notorious “The” shortage.

judyJudy
First issue: 16 January 1960
Last issue: 11 May 1991
Issues: 1635
Absorbed: Emma, Tracy
Relaunched as: Mandy & Judy

A companion paper to Bunty, and almost as well-known. Judy was one of DCT’s four main comics aimed at pre-teen girls — titles such as Cherie and Romeo were aimed at a slightly older market and had a greater focus on romance rather than daring adventures involving ponies, ballet, smugglers and orphanages. Merged with Mandy to form Mandy & Judy, later retitled M&J.

cherieCherie
First issue: 1 October 1960
Last issue: 19 October 1963
Issues: 160
Absorbed into: Romeo

As the cover of issue one here tells us, Cherie was “New!” and “Exciting!” and “The Most!” — plus it has a photo of Cliff! That would be Mr Richard, I’m guessing, and not Of Dover. Cherie was clearly and squarely aimed at that narrow window in a girl’s life when she’s stopped reading kids’ comics but isn’t quite ready for the proper glossy women’s magazines. I’m not sure exactly what the penalty was for a woman caught reading material outside her designated age-range, but I’ve never heard anyone complaining about it, so the only logical conclusion is that they were put to death.

victorThe Victor
From: 25 April 1961
To: 21 November 1992
Issues: 1657
Absorbed: The New Hotspur, The Wizard (1970), Warlord, Scoop, Buddy, Champ

One of the more famous and well-regarded British comics, its title was simplified to Victor from #651 (11 August 1973). Among the DCT publications, The Victor was well-named as it devoured more of its peers than any other. It mostly focussed on war stories, though many of the strips began to feel a little tame after the publication of its somewhat more gritty stablemate Warlord (which, in turn, paled in comparison to IPC’s Battle Picture Weekly).

bimboBimbo
First issue: 18 March 1961
Last issue: 22 January 1972
Issues: 567

One of the earliest comics I ever encountered! It was aimed at very young kids, four or five years old, I think, which was about the age I discovered it. All I can really recall about it now is that “Baby Crockett” was my favourite strip.

commandoCommando Comics
First issue: 1 June 1961
Last issue: Ongoing
Issues: 5154+

You know this one: a digest-sized war comic, 64 pages per issue, eight issues per month. This is another absolutely legendary comic, about which I have written several times in this blog. Did you know that if you owned every issue of Commando that a lot of people, myself included, would be very jealous? Did you also know that, at 14×17.5 cm per page, 68 pages per issue if you include the covers, and 5154 (and counting) issues, there’s enough paper in a full set of Commando comics to cover almost 43 square kilometres, or twelve and a half times the size of Manhattan’s Central Park?

dianaDiana
First issue: 23 February 1963
Last issue: 4 December 1976
Issues: 720
Absorbed: Romeo
Absorbed into: Jackie

Among the strips in Diana was an adaptation of The Avengers (the Steed and Mrs Peel version, not the Marvel superheroes).

buntypslBunty Picture Story Library for Girls
First issue: 1 May 1963
Last issue: 1997
Issues: 455

As is now apparently traditional, accurate information on the DC Thomson girls’ digest comics is limited: I’ve not be able to verify the number of issues or the date of the last issue. Part of the problem lies in the decision not to include dates on the issues. I presume they did that in order to give their comics a longer shelf-life (cover dates are designed to let the newsagents know how long to keep the comics on the shelves).

judypslJudy Picture Story Library for Girls
First issue: 1 May 1963
Last issue: 1994
Issues: 375

In some cases it’s possible to get a rough idea of when an issue of a digest comic was published by finding the relevant ad in the weekly comics.

hornetThe Hornet
From: 14 September 1963
To: 7 February 1976
Issues: 648
Absorbed into: The New Hotspur

Lots of action strips, of which “V for Vengeance” was notable because it was a comic-strip sequel to the Deathless Men prose story that first appeared in the first incarnation of The Wizard.

jackieJackie
First issue: 11 January 1964
Last issue: 3 July 1993
Issues: 1534
Absorbed: Diana, Blue Jeans

Expertly straddling the gulf between comics and magazines — and indeed between childhood and adulthood — Jackie is another highly-regarded and renowned publication. It had a good balance of fiction (prose, comic-strips and photo-stories), fashion, celebrity news and some more down-to-earth practical stuff. A primer for adulthood if ever there was one. My older sister was an avid reader, and of course I read her copies in an attempt to gain some understanding of women. (A cunning plan that would have been even cunninger had it actually worked.)

sparkySparky
First issue: 23 January 1965
Last issue: 9 July 1977
Issues: 652
Absorbed into: The Topper

I adored this comic. It was mad and stupid and hilarious all at the same time. “L-Cars” — about two inept police officers — was by far my favourite strip: it was later revived as “Krazy Kops” in Spike.

starlovestoriesStar Love Stories
First issue: 1 April 1965
Last issue: 1 September 1990
Issues: 1120
Relaunch of: Golden Heart Love Stories
Absorbed: Love and Life Library, Silver Moon Romances, Blue Rosette Romances

Bear with me, please, because this is a complex one… Star Love Stories was an amalgamation of the four existing DCT adult romance digest titles Golden Heart Love Stories, Love and Life Library, Silver Moon Romances and Blue Rosette Romances. First, Golden Heart Love Stories was effectively renamed Star Love Stories (with issue #98) and given a weekly publication schedule. Over the next three issues, it merged with Love and Life Library, Blue Rosette Romances and then Silver Moon Romances. From then on, until around 1970, the logos for the merged titles were featured on a four-week cycle. It was renamed Star Love Stories in Pictures from #620 (1976). Dates and issue-count are unverified: issues were, of course, undated. Because DC Thomson hate me.

mandyMandy
First issue: 21 January 1967
Last issue: 11 May 1991
Issues: 1269
Absorbed: Debbie
Relaunched as: Mandy & Judy

This was my older sister’s favourite comic for a long time — it always seemed a little bit more accessible than Judy or Bunty. Eventually merged with Judy to form Mandy & Judy, later retitled M&J.

twinkleTwinkle
First issue: 27 January 1968
Last issue: 5 June 1999
Issues: 1638
Absorbed: Little Star, Pepper Street

Another famous one… Twinkle was aimed at pre-school kids and seems to be most remembered for the “Nurse Nancy” strip, in which the eponymous character mended her dolls’ imaginary injuries. Twinkle herself later appeared in Victoria Wood’s classic sitcom dinnerladies.

wizardv2The Wizard (1970)
From: 1 February 1970
To: 25 June 1978
Issues: 435
Absorbed: The Rover
Absorbed into: The Victor

My first ever copy of The Wizard was acquired for me by accident: I was sick at home and my sister was chosen to embark on a mercy mission to the local shops. My mother ask me if I wanted a comic, and I asked for Whizzer and Chips, but my sister misheard me. Lucky, that!

littlestarLittle Star
First issue: 29 January 1972
Last issue: 24 January 1976
Issues: 209
Absorbed into: Twinkle

My childhood favourite “Baby Crockett” shows up again, late of Bimbo. I remember as a kid thinking that if I worked in DC Thomson I’d publish a couple of educational magazines called How I Wonder and What You Are, and see how long it would take for someone to realise what I was doing.

buzzBuzz
First issue: 20 January 1973
Last issue: 4 January 1975
Issues: 103
Absorbed into: The Topper

Another tabloid comic, along the same lines as The Beezer and The Topper. Unfortunately, Buzz — good as it was — failed to match the success of its antecedents and after two years was merged with The Topper. My own favourite strip: “Jimmy Jinx and What He Thinks” — great stuff!

debbieDebbie
First issue: 17 February 1973
Last issue: 15 January 1983
Issues: 518
Absorbed: Spellbound
Absorbed into: Mandy

No need for me to go into any detail about Debbie here… I’ve already done so at length elsewhere on this blog!

warlordWarlord
From: 28 September 1974
To: 27 September 1986
Issues: 627
Absorbed: Bullet
Absorbed into: The Victor

Warlord was full-on packed with war stories, and it was a great success, inspiring rival publishers IPC to create their own gritty war-based comic — Battle Picture Weekly — and thus sparked somewhat of a renaissance in British comics.

crackerCracker
First issue: 18 January 1975
Last issue: 11 September 1976
Issues: 87
Absorbed into: The Beezer

Buzz was barely cold before Cracker arrived, a bit like a hitherto-unknown second-cousin showing up at the funeral and causing everyone to start quietly panicking about their portion of the inheritance. I remember buying the first issue of Cracker and being massively impressed with it, but I didn’t continue buying it for reasons that now escape me. Shame, that.

magicv2The Magic Comic (1976)
First issue: 31 January 1976
Last issue: 24 February 1979
Issues: 161

Not, as it was touted, a relaunch of The Magic Comic from 1939: this was all-new material and aimed at a younger audience. Notable strips included “Cuddly and Duddly” who were the niblings* of Biffo the Bear from The Beano.

bulletBullet
From: 14 February 1976
To: 2 December 1978
Issues: 147
Absorbed into: Warlord

I loved this comic, and even now some of the stories still stand out. I was particularly taken with the lead character, Fireball, a secret agent whose uncle was actually — spoiler alert! — Lord Peter Flint from Warlord! My favourite story was “The Smasher,” about a giant robot controlled by the evil Doctor Doom (I don’t know why Marvel didn’t sue), who later returned in “Swooping Vengeance” to menace the world with a giant mind-controlled eagle. Wonderful stuff!

spellboundSpellbound
First issue: 25 September 1976
Last issue: 14 January 1978
Issues: 69
Absorbed into: Debbie

I’ve covered Spellbound a little in my article on Debbie, but just in case you missed that, here’s what you need to know: spooky girls’ comic, not massively successful at the time, but rather well-regarded now. Also, by “spooky girls’ comic” I mean it was a spooky comic for girls, not a comic for spooky girls, though of course it was that, too.

bluejeansBlue Jeans
First issue: 22 January 1977
Last issue: 16 March 1991
Issues: 740
Absorbed: Patches
Absorbed into: Jackie

Closer to a magazine than a comic, but it contained photo-stories so it still counts. This is another one that has proved elusive when it comes to pinning down the last issue. I’m about 85% sure that I’m right, but… I really won’t be surprised to find that I’m non-right. Also, I remember being beaten up in school because I was wearing blue jeans — this was before such things were ubiquitous — and since Blue Jeans was the name of a girls’ magazine, the bullies reasoned that I deserved the rapid application of fists and feet. True story!

plugPlug
First issue: 24 September 1977
Last issue: 24 February 1979
Issues: 75
Absorbed into: The Beezer

A rather mad but often quite brilliant spin-off from The Beano that focussed on the Bash Street Kids’ least physically attractive member. Sadly, it didn’t last long, chiefly because it was twice as expensive as most other comics of its kind.

scoopScoop
From: 1978-01-21
To: 1981-10-10
Issues: 194
Absorbed into: The Victor

A football comic. I might not know much, but I do know that I know nothing about football. Still, nice Ian Kennedy artwork on the front cover of issue #1 there!

emmaEmma
First issue: 25 February 1978
Last issue: 8 September 1979
Issues: 83
Absorbed into: Judy

Unusually for a DC Thomson girls comic, the title character was more than just a figurehead: Emma actually appeared in her own strip (she worked for a newspaper, I think) and was more “involved” with the rest of the comic than such characters usually were. Sadly, this change from the standard formula wasn’t enough to keep the comic going.

debbiepslDebbie Picture Story Library for Girls
First issue: 1 April 1978
Last issue: 1993
Issues: 197

As mentioned before, I’ve been unable to pin-point the end date for many of the DCT girls’ digests. Launched at the same time as the Mandy Picture Story Library, Debbie PSL ran out of steam first, after a mere fifteen years.

mandypslMandy Picture Story Library for Girls
First issue: 1 April 1978
Last issue: 1997
Issues: 277

… but Mandy PSL lasted a further year, I think. Honestly, though, there was no real reason for these titles to be connected with the weekly girls’ anthology comics because they contained stand-alone stories: Mandy and Debbie (and Bunty and Judy) themselves never appeared in the stories.

crunchThe Crunch
From: 20 January 1979
To: 26 January 1980
Issues: 54
Absorbed into: The New Hotspur

I really, really remember wanting to love The Crunch, but it just didn’t have any real stand-out stories and it just felt tame when compared to IPC’s Battle Action (the merger of Battle Picture Weekly and Action) or 2000AD.

patchesPatches
First issue: 10 March 1979
Last issue: 6 January 1989
Issues: 515
Absorbed into: Blue Jeans

A companion mag to Blue Jeans, because in those days it was considered shameful to have a tear in one’s jeans, so cloth patches were applied to seal the tear. Not like these days when the young folk are wearing jeans that seem to be more rips than cloth. Back in my day you’d have got a clip round the ear for daring to go out looking like that. Etc. Like Blue Jeans, I’ve had some difficulty pinning down the issue number and date of Patches‘ last issue… but it was in print until at least #515 (6 Jan 1989), and the earliest issue of Blue Jeans & Patches I’ve managed to find is dated Feb 4-11, 1989.

starblazerStarblazer
First issue: 1 April 1979
Last issue: 1 January 1991
Issues: 281

Another well-regarded DCT digest comic. Starblazer was a science fiction title — one of very few SF digest comics, for reasons unknown — and a lot of the time it was rather good. Top-quality creators, too, though as with all DC Thomson comics the creators were uncredited.

tracyTracy
First issue: 6 October 1979
Last issue: 19 January 1985
Issues: 277
Absorbed into: Judy

After the inability of Emma to capture a sufficient slice of the market, DCT tried again, but this time they stuck closer to the familiar Bunty/Judy/Mandy/Debbie formula. Tracy lasted over five years, which wasn’t bad going at the dying end of the UK comics scene.

reddaggerRed Dagger
First issue: 23 October 1979
Last issue: 1 June 1984
Issues: 30

Bimonthly. Reprints of stories from DC Thomson boys’ titles The Victor, The Hotspur, Warlord, The Hornet, The Wizard and Bullet (including my favourite “The Smasher”!).

luckycharmLucky Charm
First issue: 23 October 1979
Last issue: 1 June 1984
Issues: 30

Bimonthly. A companion title to Red Dagger. Reprints of stories from DC Thomson girls’ titles such as Mandy, Bunty, Judy, etc. As with Red Dagger, Occasionally the stories were reformatted or truncated to fit.

nuttyNutty
First issue: 14 February 1980
Last issue: 14 September 1985
Issues: 292
Absorbed into: The Dandy

The ancestral home of Bananaman, quite probably the greatest fruit-inspired comic-book strip ever created (with the possible exception of The Dirty Pear). For the most part Nutty was wonderful stuff indeed, and a real return to form.

bluejeanspnBlue Jeans Photo Novel
First issue: 10 June 1980
Last issue: 1992
Issues: 546

Another one for the “I’m not entirely sure about the details” list. It was published twice monthly until sometime in 1992, for at least 546 issues. Please do let me know if you can provide a clearer picture of this one.

buddyBuddy
From: 1 February 1981
To: 6 August 1983
Issues: 130
Absorbed into: The Victor

Buddy was an attempt to grab a slightly younger market than The Crunch. Few of its stories stood out, but “Wingfoot” was a revised version of “Longlegs the Desert Wild Boy” that originally appeared in The Beano and The Wizard (1970), and “Tom Smith’s Schooldays” was a comic-strip version of “Smith of the Lower Third”, originally published in The Wizard (1922).

tvtopsTops
First issue: 10 October 1981
Last issue: 28 January 1984
Issues: 121
Absorbed into: Suzy

Featured articles on pop-culture (long before the phrase “pop-culture” became part of the pop-culture, or even the zeitgeist), alongside comic-strip versions of popular TV shows (“Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”, “The Professionals”) and all-new strips based on personalities… I mean: “The Fantastic Adventures of Adam Ant” — who wouldn’t want to read that? Then again, another of the strips was based on the bafflingly popular sitcom “Hi-De-Hi!” Retitled TV Tops from #28 (17 Apr 1982), then reverted to Tops sometime between #85 and #98.

suzySuzy
First issue: 10 September 1982
Last issue: 13 June 1987
Issues: 249
Absorbed: Tops
Absorbed into: Bunty

The end of the old ways was signalled by the arrival of Suzy… A young girls’ comic with more photo-stories than drawn comic-strips. And nicer paper, too. The old ways were gone, their death-knell sounded. No longer interested in cut-out dolls on off-white paper, the readers wanted their comics more akin to their elder siblings’ magazines. (You can tell a girls’ mag is “growing up” when they stop putting girls on the cover and start using boys instead.) But the Powers That Be in DCT weren’t yet quite ready to let the old ways slip into oblivion…

spikeSpike
From: 22 January 1983
To: 28 April 1984
Issues: 67
Absorbed into: Champ

Spike was another go at nabbing the pre-teen boys market. “Krazy Kops” was a revised version of  my old favourite “L-Cars” from Sparky, and “Starhawk” had previously appeared in The New Hotspur and The Crunch. Mining your own library for material, eh, lads? I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that the creators didn’t receive anything extra when you reprinted their work, did they?

beanoclBeano Comic Library
First issue: 1 April 1983
Last issue: 1997
Issues: 368
Relaunched as: The Fun-Size Beano

Published four times a month, a digest-sized comic that — I believe — contained original material. Some sources disagree on how many issues were published, but most seem to think that it was 368. (There was also a number — 87, to be precise — of Beano Comic Library Specials, but they were puzzle books featuring Beano characters, so they don’t count as comics.)

dandyclDandy Comic Library
First issue: 1 April 1983
Last issue: 1997
Issues: 344
Relaunched as: The Fun-Size Dandy

Published four times a month. As always, the universe apparently doesn’t want me to know exactly when DC Thomson’s digest-sized magazines ended. But I’m pretty sure of the number of issues, if that’s any consolation.

dandyclsDandy Comic Library Special
First issue: 1987
Last issue: 1994
Issues: 88

Known widely as the Dandy Cartoon Book (because of the large words “Cartoon Book” on every cover), the Dandy Comic Library Special counts as a comic-book because it contained comic-strip material, unlike its puzzles-only Beano counterpart.

champChamp
From: 25 February 1984
To: 19 October 1985
Issues: 87
Absorbed: Spike
Absorbed into: The Victor

A sports comic, mostly about football. I know even less about football now than I did earlier in this article.

pepperstreetPepper Street
First issue: 19 January 1985
Last issue: 9 May 1987
Issues: 121
Absorbed into: Twinkle

A comic for pre-schoolers that, apparently, was based on a book and/or a TV show of the same name.

nikkiNikki for Girls
First issue: 23 February 1985
Last issue: 9 September 1989
Issues: 237
Absorbed into: Bunty

DC Thomson’s last stab at the girls’ comic market. Well, almost — there’s still the launch of Mandy & Judy to come — but Nikki was their final brand-new girls’ comic, and it was very successful for its time, though of its many strips only “The Comp” — about a comprehensive school — really stood out.

hootHoot
First issue: 26 October 1985
Last issue: 25 October 1986
Issues: 53
Absorbed into: The Dandy

Another go at a Dandy-style madcap comic, but sadly Hoot didn’t really fly, and was cancelled after a year and merged into The Dandy, which by now was old enough to be its great-grandad.

footballpsmFootball Picture Story Monthly
First issue: 1 June 1986
Last issue: 1 October 2003
Issues: 418

A digest-sized comic all about football, as the title suggests. Also, it was monthly, as the title also suggests. I’m reaching now, aren’t I? Still, seventeen years is pretty good going.

bestofbeezerThe Best of The Beezer
First issue: 1988
Last issue: 1996
Issues: 31

A quarterly reprint title that generally lived up to its name. These reprint titles were a good source of old material that might otherwise have never seen the light of day again.

bestoftopperThe Best of The Topper
First issue: 1988
Last issue: 1996
Issues: 31

The Topper version of The Best of the Beezer. Of slightly less interest to me because The Beezer was always harder to find than The Topper.

hiforgirlsHi! for Girls
First issue: 4 March 1988
Last issue: 1992
Issues: 217

A fortnightly comic/magazine that ran for at least 217 issues – possibly more: the actual end date is unknown. Also, I don’t yet know whether it merged with another publication or just stopped. I do know, however, that the title was shortened to Hi! sometime around issue #132 (September 1990).

beezerandtopperThe Beezer and Topper
First issue: 22 September 1990
Last issue: 21 August 1993
Issues: 153
Relaunch of: The Topper and The Beezer

When sales of The Topper and The Beezer dropped, it was time to merge them, but instead of having one gradually consume the other, both were given equal billing and allowed to carry on that way. Friends to the end, standing shoulder-to-shoulder as they nobly and unflinchingly met their oblivion head-on. I’m sorry, there’s something in my eye…

mandyjudyMandy & Judy
First issue: 18 May 1991
Last issue: 24 May 1997
Issues: 315
Relaunch of: Judy and Mandy
Absorbed into: Bunty

Obviously inspired by The Beezer and Topper, this merger of Mandy and her older sister Judy was a partnership of equals. Though the comic was later renamed M&J, the two girls very much remained part of it, and were even — finally! — given their own strip.

beanosuperstarsThe Beano Superstars
First issue: 1992
Last issue: 2002
Issues: 121

This monthly, glossy comic contained full-colour original material — though some issues were adapted directly from the Dennis the Menace cartoon show — and went for a more modern look: longer stories with fewer panels per page than the standard Beano comic.

buckyohareBucky O’Hare
First issue: 20 March 1992
Last issue: 11 December 1992
Issues: 20

A fortnightly comic that’s a rare example of DC Thomson licensing a property. The first six issues were reprints (with some minor alterations) of the Bucky O’Hare series published in the US by Continuity Comics, then issues #7 to #20 were original material — and quite collectable now!

hurricanesHurricanes
First issue: 30 September 1993
Last issue: 2 December 1993
Issues: 6

Another example of a tie-in with another company’s property: Hurricanes was a cartoon about a football team. (This one completely passed me by — thanks to Colcool007 for alerting me to its existence!)

classicsfromthecomicsClassics from the Comics
First issue: 1 March 1996
Last issue: 1 October 2010
Issues: 175

A monthly comic that reprinted strips from The Beano, The Dandy, The Beezer, The Topper, Nutty, Sparky, Cracker, Buzz, The Victor, The Wizard, The Rover, The Hotspur, The Hornet and Hoot.

dandyfsThe Fun-Size Dandy
First issue: 1997
Last issue: 1 November 2010
Issues: 323
Relaunched from: Dandy Comic Library

Mostly new material featuring Dandy characters, and in full-colour, too, unlike its progenitor which only had spot-colours. Unfortunately, few sources rarely agree on exactly how many issues were published, but the British Library reckon they have up to issue #323, and I’m inclined to believe them.

beanofsThe Fun-Size Beano
First issue: 1997
Last issue: 1 November 2010
Issues: 324
Relaunched from: Beano Comic Library

The Beano version of The Fun-Size Dandy, so pretty much the same thing only with Beano characters.

beanomaxBeanoMAX
First issue: 15 February 2007
Last issue: 1 June 2013
Issues: 79
Rebranded as: Dennis the Menace and Gnasher’s Epic Magazine

A magazine/comic version of the Beano with new material and a good portion of non-comic content, aimed at that new generation of readers who were more interested in the free gifts than the publication itself.

dennismegazineDennis the Menace and Gnasher’s Epic Magazine
First issue: 1 July 2013
Last issue: 1 April 2016
Issues: 38
Rebranding of: BeanoMAX
Rebranded as: Epic!

Officially titled 100% Official Dennis the Menace and Gnasher Megazine until March 2014. Later dropped most of the comic-strip content — it’s easier and cheaper to create “puzzle pages” and the like than comic-strips — and was rebranded again as Epic!

epic!Epic!
First issue: 1 May 2016
Last issue: Ongoing
Issues: 32+
Rebranding of: Dennis the Menace and Gnasher’s Epic Magazine

By this stage, it’s definitely no longer a comic. It is instead a delivery system for toy and video game adverts bagged with a handful of “free” gifts. Shame!

dangermouseDanger Mouse
First issue: 1 July 2016
Last issue: 1 July 2017
Issues: 12

Only the second time that DC Thomson has produced a “branded” comic, not counting counting things like the adaptation of The Avengers in Diana and “The Fantastic Adventures of Adam Ant” in Tops.


 

All done! Thank you for reading this far, readers! If you can correct anything here, or can supply additional information (if I’ve missed out an entire title, for instance), please do let me know — but bear in mind that I might not be able to respond immediately, and especially not if you’re that one regular correspondent who sends me an irate email every time I post anything and is apparently of the belief that any errors are deliberate attempts to mislead. You know who you are! (And I know where you live.)

 


 

Updates:

20180825: Thanks to Colcool007 for the info about DCT’s TV tie-in comic Hurricanes, of which I had never heard before.

20180826: Lorrbot has helpfully pointed out a dumb error on my part with regard to the number of issues of Debbie Picture Story Library (it should be 197), and also has even helpfullyer informed me that Blue Jeans was absorbed by Jackie — I did not know that! Thanks, Lorrbot!

20180826: Just realised that I was using the cover of issue #2 of Bullet instead of issue #1 — now fixed!

20180827: I mistakenly gave Football Picture Story Monthly an extra ten years of life — it actually ended in 2003, not 2013! Thanks to Martin for letting me know!

bluejeans&patches#63020180907: I’ve just discovered that Patches magazine was absorbed by Blue Jeans! Issue #630 of Blue Jeans & Patches (right) is dated 4-11 February 1989, only a month after the date of the latest issue of Patches I’ve been able to find. And since the cover of this issue of BJ&P doesn’t mention anything about the merger, it’s safe to assume that the merger happened before this issue. There was only enough time for one other issue after Patches #615, so the merger issue had to be #629. Ta-daa! (The chart has been updated appropriately!)

 


 

* Note: “niblings” is a lovely little word that doesn’t get used nearly often enough: it’s the nieces and nephews equivalent of “siblings” — your homework for today is to use it in a sentence in a manner that suggests you’ve always known what it meant.

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7 thoughts on “DC Thomson Comics Timeline

  1. Great article Michael. I see that you have missed only one TV tie in that I can think of and that is Hurricanes, a very small run of about six issues from circa 1993. Finding them is like rocking horse poo.

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  2. Nice, I made a family tree for DCT girls comics but nowhere near as comprehensive!

    Some details I can add:
    Blue Jeans merged with Jackie dated 23 March 1991

    The 4 girls picture story library initially were paired up so, Bunty and Judy were on the same numbering (inside the front page they would advertise the other book) and Mandy and Debbie were on same numbering. Then Judy and Debbie books ended, Bunty and Mandy continued advertising each other although they were on different issue numbers. In M&J dated 16 July 1994 the last Judy book #375 is advertised. Debbie only ran for 197 issues, it’s equivalent Mandy issue was advertised in M&J dated 30 July 1994.

    It seems that the picture library books weren’t always coming out a regular schedule, but in the last few years were more frequent. I don’t have a date for Bunty and Mandy endings, though the did end at the same time and it was after May 1997.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent work Lorrbot — thank you! I had no idea what happened to Blue Jeans: I’ll be updating the chart appropriately! As for Debbie PSL: I had 197 in my spreadsheet until last week — I checked my backups — so I don’t know where I got the wrong number from. (The only thing I can think of is that I must have pasted it in by accident!)

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  4. Don’t think that Football Picture Story Monthly lasted to 2013, 2003 would be nearer. But I did buy one issue in the wild from the news/magazine section in a large department store in about 2006, by my calculations it must have been buried in the back of the display for around four years.

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    1. Thanks, Martin – that was my mistake entirely: I must have skipped that one when checking data (I admit that I don’t tend to pay as much attention to the sports comics as I should!). I’ll fix that in the next update!

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  5. Very good research indeed! I did my own “File” on `Sparky` It was always my favourite because I had it from No1. Always thought that if its “I.Spy” strip had appeared in `Dandy` or `Beano` might be as well known as “Dennis” or “Dan” but `Sparky` and its characters, never got the publicity of those two.

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