Hoo boy, readers...
I've been putting this one off for a while but it's finally time to share this one with you...
Presenting Beano Comic Library 99 from 1986.
We've talked about Beano Comic Libraries before and this one stars long-time comics favourite Minnie the Minx who is desperately trying to get onto Jimmy Savile's popular TV show Jim'll Fix It.
Now, for the sake of those readers who may not be aware of Jimmy Savile, let's take a little detour before the main story, courtesy of Buddy issue 4 from 1980.
Buddy was a DC Thomson publication (home of The Beano) that ran from 1980-83 and was intended to cash in on the re-found demand for boys' adventure comics kicked off by Action a few years earlier.
I don't own a hard copy of this issue so I am indebted to comedian and cartoonist (and comics fan) Paul Savage for sending me scans of the following.
It also ran a regular biographical strip called Super Personality Series which gave us a two-page life story of the famous. In this issue: Jimmy Savile.
We are told of Savile's early life in Leeds where he had to get a job down't'pit.
The day he almost died...
...Then his slide into DJing after playing records at a party and getting a job at a dance hall before dying his hair blond.
Before long his personality brought him to radio broadcasting.
And what else was he doing with his time?
Erm... we'll come back to that...
He was also a fitness fanatic who ran marathons for charity...
...and, thanks to presenting the long-running music show Top of the Pops became a beloved TV star, eventually given his own children's TV show Jim'll Fix It wherein he granted wishes of youngsters who wrote in (within the budgetary constraints of the BBC).
Oh, that is uncomfortable...
Oh yeah, after his death in 2011 it emerged that he was Britain's most prolific sex offender, having spent decades using his position and influence (especially the above-mentioned hospital work) to prey on and sexually assault vulnerable children.
It's an incredibly grim story and much like the piece I wrote about Rolf Harris I don't want to use the hideous truth to get cheap laughs.
Honestly, if you WANT a cheap laugh, have a look at the cover of Beano Comic Library 146:
Okay? Got that out of our system?
Back to the main story then.
Minnie the Minx was a character created by the great Leo Baxendale in 1953 but since he left the company in 1962 she had been drawn by Jim Petrie.
Here, however, (as was usually the case with the Comic Libraries) we get art by a lesser creator. And, being a DC Thomson title, the creator goes uncredited, though I believe it's Thomas Williams (let me know in the comments if you know different).
We start with an angry Min:
A plan is hatched to improve Minnie's odds of getting chosen. It involves capturing children...
...and forcing them to write letters on Min's behalf to Jim'll.
but when the BBC receives the sackful of letters they are brought to the attention of the Director General.
Incidentally, the DG at the time would have been Alasdair Milne, a man who was neither bald nor wore glasses.
So we get a couple of fantasy sequences of Min and celebrities. First Henry Cooper:
It goes as you might expect for a comic from before we got squeamish about violence.
The next bit caused me to learn that Henry had a twin brother, George, who boxed under the name of Jim Cooper.
Here's a topical picture of them both:
Anyway, her next wish was to meet Boaty McBoatface.
I like how the writer has put pauses into David Attenborough's words to approximate his delivery.
We also get a reference to one of Attenborough's finest moments as we see a gorilla in the wild.
Naturally, chaos ensues with both the gorilla and some rhinos leading to the end of this bit.
You MONSTER! He's our greatest national treasure!
These thoughts make the DG issue an edict to keep Minnie away from TV Centre.
Typical biased BBC...
And then she decides to take a different path to get her wish...
Seriously. Stay away!
So we finally get the man himself, out for a jog.
Now comics' relationship with celebrities is often cloudy. Especially in The Beano who have frequently featured famous people in the pages after having approached them IRL to be in it. That time fellow Radio 1 DJ Mike Read helped in the search for Gnasher, for example, or when Dennis ran a race against Oscar Pistorius (that really happened).
With this one though, I get the feeling there was no official endorsement, they just wrote the story. I don't know, though.
Anyway, plan B has failed but then plan C arrives...
Yep, some random, never-before-seen girl tells Minnie she's going on the show and after disbelief, anger and depression Min reaches the final stage of grief: child kidnap.
Just to be clear here; that is Minnie's voice, not Savile's.
Min then goes to London in a blonde wig and a frock. Something in which she would not normally be caught dead.
She reaches TV Centre as it is on high alert, even having changed the signs to "ITV".
Once in the studio she finds the wish her friend(?) had wished for.
This does not please Minnie. She really hadn't thought this one through.
Turns out Minnie is massive homophobe.
I kid but I am slightly surprised at how much Minnie dislikes Boy George. He did help the A Team that one time after all.
Because they don't exist, Minnie.
So, it's time for our next celebrity guest, then!
She has Lister's confidence.
Obviously, she wrecks the place, whereupon...
...and she is chased out of the building with some mixed messages.
Outside, her Dad grabs her and drives her home (apparently Jim'll Fix It was being broadcast live).
Someone's got a hankerin' for a spankerin'!
Incidentally, one of those bits of trivia forever lodged in my brain. Almost all the parents of these comics characters are never named beyond "Mum" and "Dad" but one time (in a strip about the meaning of names) Minnie's Dad revealed his name was Victor (right before administering another thrashing).
Time for plan D!
Hey! I've just noticed that they've consistently spelled Savile's name wrong! Easily done, I guess.
So Min's new plan is to make other kids' dreams come true for no apparent benefit to herself. Again, not thought this through.
Needless to say she cheats on all the wishes. For example:
She soon gets a cease and desist from the owners of the "Fix It" trademark as she is approached by BBC men.
"GET IN THE VAN!"
But then things take a turn as she is invited back to TV Centre...
What's going on here?
Yay! It's Fatty Fudge, Minnie's number one antagonist who has been surprisingly absent from this book till now.
And Jimmy Savile gets a child restrained...
...and does a catchphrase.
And thus ends the whole adventure.
Minnie gets her "badge" (it's a medal) and we can all move on with our lives and never speak of it again.
Also, if you were wondering, as this was Comic Library 99, was the hundredth one anything special?