Saturday, May 31, 2008
Beano Collector's Edition hits the shops
DC Thomson have just published an attractive new 68 page softback book to commemorate the upcoming 70th anniversary of The Beano. Priced at £4.99 The Beano 70 Years of Fun is a full colour whirlwind tour through the history of "the best British comic ever".
The book is light on text, but what copy there is tends to be solidly informative. The strips themselves tell the story, and there's a nice amount of rarely seen classic material here. Some pages are reproduced from the original art, showing paste ups and all, - excellent images for fans of the medium. There are other exclusives too, such as un-inked Dudley Watkins pencils, development sketches of next year's new Dennis The Menace animated series, and photographs of the original Beano staff from 1938! (Update 28/6/2008: It's likely those pencil sketches are by Ken Harrison, not Dudley Watkins.)
There's some great examples of the work of Beano legends such as Ken Reid and Leo Baxendale, and the very first Billy the Cat strip (from 1967) by David Sutherland is reprinted in full. The book also brings us right up to date with current contributors such as Laura Howell (The Beano's first regular female artist) and Hunt Emerson. (Sadly Hunt's Ratz strip is printed low resolution by mistake, but that's a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent book.)
The book was stocked alongside the regular Beano weekly in the WH Smith I bought my copy from. I suspect the card cover and its cut-out porthole design might suffer some damage on those shelves before too long if the comic section of your local branch is as unkempt as mine, so be sure to buy a copy as soon as possible.
There will be more celebrations of The Beano's 70th anniversary in July, with Nick Parks taking over as guest editor on the weekly for the actual birthday issue, bringing inevitable media publicity in the press and on tv. A hardback history of the comic is also coming soon, - more news as it arrives.