On this day, 30 May 1987: Buster
On this day, 30 May 1987 … It was a rather bleak, soulless period of my life. Starship were top of the charts with Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, Everton were league champions (it was always either Everton or Liverpool) and Thatcher’s Tories were less than a fortnight away from winning a third term in government. Doctor Who was rather ignominiously ‘between Doctors’ after the sacking of Colin Baker and before Sylvester McCoy’s debut in September (fellow Who fans might also be interested to know that the production team were in the middle of filming Paradise Towers, and 2017’s new companion Pearl Mackie was, on 30 May, one day old). I was halfway through the summer term of my lower sixth at a school I’d joined for the sixth form years only, and at which I was utterly miserable – awkward, bullied, and without a clue about the rapidly-approaching adult world. I didn’t go out much but spent most of my time in my bedroom, painting. Spoilers: things got better, pals! I’m not sure what prompted this look back in time, other than every now and then I think it’s interesting to look at the context of what else was going on in the world when some of these comics were published.
It might not have been a particularly happy time for me – I’d stopped reading comics by this point, so that didn’t help either – but Buster (also a painter!) looks as though he was having a fab time. And rightly so, as this was a significant growing-up issue for him. Buster moved to a higher-grade paper, abandoning the newsprint-style on which it had been printed for many years previously, and to a larger format more suggestive of a magazine than a comic (all remaining IPC comics were moving to this format around this time). Buster’s centrefold strip was printed in colour – well, two colours (pink and yellow) – and indulged in some full-on (and literal) breaking of the fourth wall as Buster’s chum Dozy Derek attempted re-sizing the comic by bashing the panel borders with a mallet. There are three new strips: Dracula Dobbs (schoolboy vampire), Vid Kid (drawn by a woman! Actually, sadly not – ‘Sue Denim’ is a pseudonym (geddit?) of Jack Edward Oliver) and Beastenders (a horror comic take on the soap, possibly inspired by Shiver and Shake’s old Horrornation Street).