British Comic Artists
Vic Neill ( -2000) is best known for his work in Plug (1977-79), the short-lived comic which ran for just 76 issues. His later work for D.C. Thomson included taking over Dudley Watkins' strip 'Mickey the Monkey' in The Topper, and drawing various titles for The Beano such as 'The Germs', 'Wee Ben Nevis' 'The McTickles', 'Tim Traveller', and the famous 'Billy Whizz'. He also worked for IPC producing strips for various comics, including the wonderful School Fun, and also Buster, where he drew 'Top of the Class'.
'Top of the Class' artwork - 'Brollies' - Buster 29th May 1982
'Top of the Class' - Buster and Jackpot comic - 29th May 1982
The runaway success of Baxendale's 'The Bash Street Kids' in 1953 later spurred the creation of classroom strips by other artists. One of the better imitations was 'Top of the Class', starring the Scruffs and the Toffs, which ran in Buster from 6th February 1982 until 23rd May 1987, drawn by Vic Neill. It seems that a strip similar to 'Top of the Class' appeared as 'Class Wars', running in School Fun (1983 -1984). [I don't have my School Fun comics anymore, so cannot check on this].
The theme of scruffs and toffs had of course already been popularised in 'Lord Snooty and his Pals', a strip which appeared inThe Beano as far back as 1938, about a young Lord who lives with his chums in Bunkerton Castle. Lord Snooty was drawn by Dudley D Watkins (1907-1969) the artist behind the iconic 'Desperate Dan', Watkins also drew 'Our Gang', being the continued adventures of the child stars of American Hal Roach's hugely successful 1922 comedy hit. Lord Snooty's pals bear a resemblance to 'Our Gang', whilst Lord Snooty himself appears to have been modelled on the star of another once popular movie, 'Little Lord Fauntleroy' - the 1936 film based on Francis Hodgson Burnett's 1886 book of the same name.
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