|Comic strip character(s) from The Beano|
|Stars in||Lord Snooty and His Pals|
|Other names||Lord Snooty|
|Creator(s)||Dudley D. Watkins|
|Current/Last artist||Lew Stringer|
|First appearance||Issue 1|
(30 July 1938)
|Last appearance||Issue 3948 (15 August 2018)|
|Appearance timeline||Issues 1 – 367, 440 – 811, 904 – 2565, 3093, 3737 – 3948|
|Also appeared in||The Beano Annual|
The Bash Street Kids
|Schedule||Weekly, then became limited|
|Name||Lord Marmaduke of Bunkerton|
|Friends||Skinny Lizzie, Hairpin Huggins, Happy Hutton, Gertie the Goat, Scrapper Smith, Rosie, Snitch and Snatch, Joe, Swanky Lanky Liz, Thomas, and Polly|
|Type of group||Ash Can Alley gang|
|Members||Skinny Lizzie, Hairpin Huggins, Mary the mule, Happy Hutton, Gertie the Goat, Scrapper Smith, and Rosie|
|Regular characters||Professor Screwtop|
|Other characters||Angus, Snooty's pet stag; Pongo the dog, Cyril, The Gasworks Gang|
|Crossover characters||Big Fat Joe, Doubting Thomas, Polly Wolly Doodle and her Great Big Poodle, Contrary Mary|
Lord Snooty is a fictional character who stars in the British comic strip Lord Snooty and his Pals from the British comic anthology book The Beano. The strip debuted in issue 1 (dated 30 July 1938) created by DC Thomson artist Dudley D. Watkins, who designed and wrote Snooty's stories until 1968, but the stories would continue featuring in Beano issues until 1991, with occasional revivals and character cameos.
Lord Snooty starred a wealthy Eton schoolboy named Marmaduke, the bored Earl of Bunkerton who often snuck out of his home to bond with the working-class children on the other side of town. His friends knew he was a wealthy child and affectionately nicknamed him "Snooty", but he donned a disguise to hide from his family and the Bunkerton Castle staff. Other stories followed misadventures in Snooty's life, such as him outsmarting or helping the residents of the castle, causing or running into mayhem with his friends, visiting Professor Screwtop to help with his new invention, or rivalling the Gasworks Gang.
Original run (1938–1991)
The comic strip first appeared in issue 1 of The Beano, debuting with the comic strips Wee Peem, Morgyn the Mighty, Wild Boy of the Woods, Ping the Elastic Man and cover star Big Eggo. It was one of the notable few in the first issue inspired by the "funny pages" from American newspapers, whereas the rest of the magazine contained adventure stories written in prose. Lord Snooty's main creator was Dudley D. Watkins, known for creating stories for Oor Wullie and The Dandy's Desperate Dan, who would later write Biffo the Bear.
Lord Snooty would go through two notable hiatuses where reprints would fill the issues. Upon return, Snooty's friends were replaced with new characters, some from discontinued Beano strips. Watkins stopped working on the series after issue 690 and would not return until 904, being replaced by Leo Baxendale, but Watkins' production would still be sporadic with the large story reprints-gap in the early 1960s. In 1968, Robert Nixon became the new creator, followed by Jimmy Glen from 1973 and Ken H. Harrison in 1988. Harrison's last story would appear in 1991 in issue 2565, making Lord Snooty the last series from the first issue to feature in The Beano.
Subsequent appearances (2000s)
On 9 September 1998, a book entitled The Legend of Lord Snooty and his Pals was released. This contained history and reprints from the first 30 years of the strip's life.
In 2000, Lord Snooty made a special appearance in the Bash Street Kids Book 2001, along with Snitch and Snatch. Snooty also appeared in issue 3093 where a one off strip called 'Lord Snooty's Day Out' appeared (drawn by Ken H. Harrison), and in issue 3185 where as part of the 65th anniversary issue he made a guest appearance alongside The Bash Street Kids. Big Fat Joe also guest appeared in that issue, alongside Billy Whizz.
In 2005 Snooty was revived, briefly, in the Beano serial Are We There Yet? by writer-artist Kev F. Sutherland, in which he goes hip-hop as Snoot Doggy-Dogg. The character was often acknowledged but didn't come to prominence again until in 2011, when a spinoff strip entitled Lord Snooty The Third made its debut, focusing on Snooty's grandson (who is also called Snooty, and is a younger, more contemporary version of his grandfather). In this version, the original Snooty appears as a portrait.
In January 2013, Lord Snooty was brought back alongside a number of old Beano characters as a three-panel strip in a new section of the Beano called Funsize Funnies, as well making appearances in subsequent Beano Annuals. Lord Snooty ended in the penultimate issue before the 75th Anniversary Special. He returned in a few comic strips designed by Lew Stringer.
Snooty was busy during 2018 (the 80th anniversary of The Beano). He appeared in issue 3945 in a flashback with other characters from 1938 as a part of the 80th anniversary issue. He also appeared in the inner cover artwork of the 2019 Beano Annual with 254 other characters from The Beano's history and was in the time-travelling comic feature "Doctor Whoops!"
- Marmaduke "Lord Snooty", Earl of Bunkerton – main character. The son of the Duke, according to the first issue's tagline, who is uninterested in his responsibilities and wants to have a normal life like his working-class friends. He would wear a disguise (patchy dungarees, a flat cap and scuffed shoes) to hide from his family and the castle staff until story 6. Despite his uninterest in taking charge so young, stories are usually about Snooty using his connections to humble adults of authority that use rules to boss him or his friends around (e.g. the mayor, his staff, teachers, police).
- Aunt Matilda – Snooty's strict guardian who means well, nicknamed Aunt Mat. She meets Snooty's friends in story 5 believing they rescued him after he collapsed in a wooded area and allows them to visit him at Bunkerton Castle. Bunkerton staff's appearances diminish throughout the stories so Matilda frequently relies on her nephew and his friends to help her with repairs, decorating and cleaning the castle.
- Samuel – the castle guard.
Ash Can Alley kids
First described as "the Beezer kids of Ash-Can Alley", Snooty's friends lived in Bunkerton Castle's nearby working-class neighbourhood of Ash Can and attended Ash Can Council School. From 1938 to the story's first hiatus, (excluding Snooty) there were six members, including a goat, and then identical toddlers joined the group later. When Lord Snooty and His Pals returned in 1950, the only remaining original members were the identical twins, whilst the rest of Snooty's friends would leave and be replaced by other characters who had already been established in their own Beano comic strips.
- Skinny Lizzie – thin girl with a dark, messy bob hairstyle, who wears a bobble hat
- Hairpin Huggins – a skinny boy almost as tall as some of the adults.
- "Happy" Hutton – a boy with light-coloured hair (later revealed blond in coloured Beano issues) whose resting face looks tired, wrinkled and sulky. Seemingly nicknamed "happy" for irony, Hutton has often been shown in panels smiling or laughing with the rest of his friends.
- Gertie the Goat – a goat the children use for transport or as an honorary human who helps them in sports or with chores.
- Scrapper Smith – boy with a shaggy side-part with dimpled cheeks who loves fighting; stayed on to live in the castle. He received a two-series spin-off between issues 680 and 890, written by Albert Holroyd.
- Rosie – short girl with curly blonde hair who loves cooking
- Snitch and Snatch – identical twins in babygrows who cause mischief and mayhem.
The new friends from 1950 onwards
- Joe – the dapper, overweight boy from Big Fat Joe, which was also a first issue Beano comic strip (ended issue 35)
- Liz – former star of Swanky, Lanky Liz (issue 336 to 368) by Charles Holt. Liz continued her traits of being snobbish and vain.
- Thomas – innocent, large-eyed former star of Doubting Thomas (ran from issues 90 to 174) by James Crighton.
- Polly – former star of Polly Wolly Doodle and her Great Big Poodle by George Drysdale, which appeared between issues 286 and 306. It was about the misadventures of Polly and her poodle Pongo, who also joins her in the crossover.
- Mary – the stubborn mule from Contrary Mary by Roland Davies. The series was also in the first issue of The Beano (ended issue 97) that was reprinted as "Neddy the Cuddy" in The People's Journal.
- Professor Screwtop, inventor who appears sometimes to help out the gang. He occasionally appeared in other Beano strips such as the Bash Street Kids. Since 2017, he has appeared in the TV series Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed! along with his daughter, Rubidium "Rubi".
- Angus, Snooty's pet stag.
- Cyril, The Castle Jackdaw.
- The Gasworks Gang, sworn enemies of Snooty and his pals.
- Dudley D. Watkins cameoed in a story to teach the children how to draw, but when the Ash-Can kids discover Watkins is creating a comic starring the boys from Gasworks, Snooty uses his drawing practice to modify the story, leading to the offended Gasworks boys to attack him.
Reception and legacy
Lord Snooty is often regarded as part of the golden age of comic characters and has become one of few to earn his own collection of strips. It was a popular strip upon its release with Wee Peem and Little Dead-Eye Dick, possibly because the working-class children would relate to Snooty venturing with children from their family background. The media wrote of its shock when the series was cancelled in 1991: Mr Pepys called it "[an] occasion for nationwide mourning"; The Guardian implied its inference of paranoia and cowardice in Dr John Casey's article about the event in The Daily Mail because of Casey comparing it to "John Major's drive for a classless society, a concept which does not go down very well in the sort of Scrutonian circles to which John Casey belongs." The new editor, Euan Kerr, admitted being apathetic towards the series, mostly because 1990s' children were far removed from a story about characters from the early 20th century. "The sad truth is that he regularly came at the bottom of readers' popularity polls," he explained. "His top hat and Eton collar must baffle today's kids. At the time he was created in 1938, it was a more divided society and children at that stage would like to have been like him and live in a castle."
"Lord Snooty" as slang
In popular British culture, "Lord Snooty" is pejorative to describe a high-profile person (usually a politician) from an upper middle class family who is too privileged to relate to the rest of the United Kingdom, despite how hard they try to. In 1995, Craig Brown criticised Roy Hattersley for claiming Eton College was the wrong school to send teenaged Prince William because Lord Snooty attended it, writing in The Evening Standard: "I doubt the creators at the Dundee firm of DC Thomson ever intended [Snooty and the children of Ash-Can Alley] to be thought of as Etonians."
When Charles Moore was announced as The Daily Telegraph's new editor, some critiques believed his "sobriquet of Lord Snooty" would bring a conservative agenda to the newspaper, according to Stephen Clover, who ended his overview with: "Lord Snooty does know what they are thinking in the suburbs and market towns rather better than most of [Charles Moore's] metropolitan critics." Moore would later write about David Cameron in 2009 theorising Cameron shared similarities to friend-to-the-poor Lord Snooty as well as Snooty's "repulsive" grandson, in his attempt to befriend the poor like both boys. Alex Salmond also called the Cameron-led Conservative government "a bunch of incompetent Lord Snootys" in 2012.
Shona McIsaac used the comic strip to describe her doubts that hereditary peers would still have power in The House of Lords: "If The Beano, which is a far more loved institution than the House of Lords, can get rid of Lord Snooty, the parliamentary Bash Street Kids can certainly get rid of hereditary peers."
A by-election leaflet depicting Edward Timpson photoshopped wearing a top hat in 2008 did not have explicit ties to the comic strip character, but alleged Labour Party campaigns to make voters draw comparisons were nicknamed such.
Lord Snooty the Third (2008–2011)
5 July 2008 issue of The Beano, number 3439, included a new version of the strip drawn by Nigel Parkinson. It is about a mischievous boy who lives in a castle, the first strip showing Snooty jetskiing on Lake Snooty. Although it was originally entered as part of the New Bash Street Kid competition, the following issue, number 3440, establishes that this character is indeed Marmaduke's grandson, showing a distinctive and recognisable "Grandad" in the family portrait gallery. Later on, Snooty the Third became a spy, parodying James Bond.
Snooty III also has a long-suffering and sarcastic butler named Parkinson. He has also formed his own gang, consisting of an adolescent named Naz, a young girl named Frankie, Emo, and One and Three the triplets (who claim that two does not 'hang out' with them much). The strip did not prove popular among readers and the comic series officially ended in 2011 after making less frequent appearances.
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