Vintage Reads #20: Bananas and Other Grade School Reads

Bananas 1982

I wasn't much of a book reader in elementary and middle school.  Unless the book happened to be about Bigfoot or Kiss, I probably wasn't interested.  However, I did read quite a bit, but it was stuff with lots of pictures: i.e. comic books and magazines.  I'd read a Doonesbury compendium that had way more words and harder concepts than any Judy Blume novel; but, because it wasn't a chapter book, my parents and teachers remained unimpressed.

In terms of magazines, this is what I read from First Grade all the way through to Seventh: Bananas, Pizazz, Dynamite, Cracked, MAD, and Crazy.  All of which I read religiously, cover to cover, multiple times till they were wore out.

By junior high, I graduated to more "intellectual" reading: Creem, Eerie, Creepy, Hit Parader, and even Omni.  But my heart still has a soft spot for those old kids mags.  That's why I thought it was time to resurrect one of my old faves, Bananas.  Enjoy.



  1. "Jovial" Bob Stine was the editor, AKA R.L. Stine, the creator of the Goosebumps series.

    Scholastic published it, so it was never as irreverent as Mad or Cracked, but it was a passable substitute between issues.

  2. OMG, I had a Knight Riders Bananas book. Once or twice a year in elementary school the book company who sold these would hold a book fair in the school's auditorium. I remember them fondly; it was fun to browse the books and sometimes you had to preorder a copy, which would then be delivered to you via the school in a week or two. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

  3. Many thanks for the upload of this Bananas magazine. I was a kid in the seventies but unfortunately I never read neither Bananas or Dynamite magazines, though they were exactly the kind of mags I would have loved!
    Now through this and other blogs I've come to download some issues and have even bought some mags on Ebay. Great stuff and thanks again! I really appreciate it.

  4. Yay, book fairs at school! I also remember that Scholastic would send book catalogs to schools so you could take it home and pick out what you wanted. Delivery day was the best. I got all those mags, too.

  5. The Weekly Reader was the thing we ordered book and mags from. And yes OMG, delivery day had an excitement that has never been equalled by any UPS or FedEx delivery I've gotten since. To see that pristine book about Evel Knievel or a Dynamite with Farrah Fawcett-Majors on the cover, and the disappointment when something was out of stock. Once they sent me some goddamn book about stupid Hank Aaron because whatever I really ordered (probably something cool like M*A*S*H or TV and movie cars) was unavailable. Thanks for nothing, jerks! At least I still have the Jimmy Walker issue of Dynamite around somewhere.

  6. I just did a week of Weekly Readers!

  7. The best artist for Bananas was Sam Viviano. He was kinda like the Mort Drucker of Bananas - THE go-to guy for movie and tv parodies. I remember the parodies of Mork and Mindy and Diff'rent Strokes. His likenesses were uncanny!

    But my favorite comic strip in Bananas was JOE by John Holmstrom of Punk magazine. In later issues, Joe faced such villains as the Potato Chip Monster, Super Puck-Man, and Bozo Melonhead!

    Great post Gilligan!

  8. Sam Viviano went on to become art director at MAD magazine, and (as far as I know) is still in that position!

    Al Bigley

  9. I guess that I've yet to grow up because I still read Mad Magazine, along with Batman comics.

  10. While I have at least heard of the other magazines you listed, this one is totally new to me.
    Was "Bananas" regional, or just out of my line of sight behind Tigerbeat?

  11. If I recall correctly, Bananas (and all the other Scholastic magazines) was never sold in stores (or as a subscription), so they wouldn't be behind the Tigerbeats, unfortunately! They weren't regional, but they were mostly only available through book catalogues that you'd get in school. I don't think every school bothered with the book catalogues, though.

  12. Thank you Maria,

    While I remember the Weekly Reader and the yearly book drives, I do not remember Bananas.
    Thank you for the information.