Sunday, 12 January 2020

Tom's punishment

Years ago, humour strips featuring mischievous kids often ended with them receiving "six of the best" in the form of a caning from teacher or a spanking by slipper from their dads. Depending on who did the story it could be amusing but eventually became a repetitive lazy way to end a story. Thankfully such scenes vanished from comics over 30 years ago because it was considered a somewhat barbaric punishment for teachers and parents to inflict on children. This wasn't the comics becoming "politically correct" as such. They were simply reflecting the changes in society, not instigating it. The changes had to be made in the comics because a seven year old reader today would be just as confused to see a strip showing a teacher whacking a kid with a cane as he would to see a horse-drawn milk float in the Beano.

I'm pleased that my career in comics started after this practice had disappeared from the pages so I've never been required to draw "a damn good thrashing" as Basil Fawlty would put it. When I was doing my Tom Thug strip for Oink! and Buster I decided on different punishments for the Brainless Bully. He'd receive self-inflicted wounds as the result of his bullying backfiring, be shown running from the threat of violence, or he'd be seen with a HUGE pile of extra homework, as shown in the strip above from Buster dated 13th July 1991. (Often the pile of homework would be even bigger.) Whatever the outcome, Tom Thug would lose, as the moral of the strip was always that bullying / bad behaviour shouldn't succeed. 



Anonymous said...

It could be argued that society was becoming more politically correct back then so if comics were reflecting society, isn't it really the same thing?

Lew Stringer said...

Yeah I guess so. What I meant was comics didn't instigate it. They had no choice. I'll reword it as it wasn't clear what I intended. Thanks.