Sunday, September 07, 2008

Beano original art for £9.50....sort of


For over twenty years D.C. Thomson have been producing annual hardback collections of classic Dandy / Beano reprint material. The format of some of the previous books have annoyed some fans because some of the old strips were re-coloured, redesigned, or presented incomplete. However, this year's compendium should delight every UK comic collector. Why? The Beano and The Dandy: Comics in the Classroom (R.R.P. £9.50) features scans of strips from the actual artwork, warts and all.


This is the next best thing to owning the original pages. The scans of decades-old artwork (from Thomson's finest: Dudley Watkins, Davy Law, Alan Morely, and Leo Baxendale) shows up all the inklines, margin notes, colour guides, whiteout corrections, paste ups etc. The only difference being the pages here are reproduced around A4 size whereas the original pages would have been drawn twice-up back then (a massive A2 size). Nevertheless, this is the closest most of us will get to owning a Dandy or Beano "original".

The whole book isn't like that unfortunately, as I suspect the "untidiness" of the pages might put off readers who don't appreciate original art. However, the rest of the book features pages scanned from the old comics, - yellowed paper and all. (Such as the first Winker Watson strip by Eric Roberts below.) A far more accurate way of showing what old Beano and Dandy comics looked like than "bleaching out" the flaws (which often destroys the finer line work too).


There are many great strips in this book, including the first and last episodes of the bizarre Our Teacher's A Walrus; a selection of 1960s Dennis the Menace strips; very early Leo Baxendale Bash Street Kids original art; the previously unpublished final Jocks and Geordies strip, and Biffo the Bear starting a cockfight to get out of school.

In keeping with the book's classroom theme, the overall design is one of a school scrapbook, with tape and paper clips added to the margins, along with ink blots. Whether or not today's kids will know what an ink blot is doesn't matter, as hopefully the high quality of the material within will keep readers of all ages completely absorbed.

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The celebrations of The Beano's 70th Anniversary continue in a few weeks with the publication of a weighty 352 page coffee table book The History of The Beano: The Story So Far, compiled by ex-Dandy editor Morris Heggie. Available for pre-order now from Amazon.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Comics in the Classroom book sure looks interesting. I live outside of the UK and will have to ask my friend in Britain to get it for me. Where do they sell it?

Lew Stringer said...

Any major bookshop should have it; WH Smith, Waterstones etc.

mittelstadt said...

Thanks for this information. Now I know what to ask my mother and stepdad to buy me for Christmas. (She still shops at W.H. Smith's in Bedfprd for me once in a while: "These comics are for my son in America; he's only 52 years old.")

Ross MacKay said...

I understand that the Beano is infinitely more popular than the Dandy these days, but it still saddens me to see this 'history of the beano' book and know that there won't be one for the Dandy.

Lew Stringer said...

I agree Ross. I'm hoping The Beano history book may contain some info on The Dandy too. We'll soon know as it's scheduled to be published this week.

Anonymous said...

"The only difference being the pages here are reproduced around A4 size whereas the original pages would have been drawn twice-up back then (a massive A2 size)."

Don'y you mean A3 size?

Lew Stringer said...

No. "Twice up" means twice the width and twice the height of the printed page.

Keith Ramsey said...

Comics in the Classroom reprints two different front pages for the Dandy no 52, both dated 26 November 1938.

Does anyone know if two different versions were published, or is one a mock-up?

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