Friday, November 26, 2010
Fun-Size victims of downsize
After a recent shakeup of their comics line, which saw Classics from the Comics fold and The Dandy given an all-new makeover, publisher D.C. Thomson have decided to close their digest humour comics Fun-Size Beano and Fun-Size Dandy.
The two 68 page comics, identical in format to Commando but using spot colour, had been faring poorly for some time and distribution seemed very limited. As a result they had switched to all-reprint material three years ago.
The comics were launched in 1997, replacing the Beano and Dandy Comic Libraries which had begun in 1982. So sudden was the decision to axe the comics that the last issues advertised the November issues which were destined never to appear. A similar fate befell Classics from the Comics, ending with No.175 last month but carrying an advertisement for issue 176.
It's a sad ending to the twin comics as the Fun-Size titles were a good entry-point for new artists at D.C. Thomson, as well as extra income for established ones. The page rates were not spectacular by any means but the format of the books meant that most pages only needed two panels, sometimes only one. By drawing a 25 page lead strip or one of the ten page back up stories, one could build up a nice momentum and a different pace to the story than in the weekly single pagers.
Around ten years ago I drew several stories for the Fun-Size editions including a few Fiddle O'Diddle strips (above), a Numskulls, a Les Pretend, a Ball Boy, a couple of Korky the Cat strips and, my favourite, I-Spy.
Incidentally, if anyone knows which issue of Fun-Size Dandy this Korky the Cat page of mine was from (below), please let me know as I don't think I have that issue. (Scanned from the original art before I posted it to Thomsons. The Fun-Size books often used the classic versions of the characters so it was a joy to draw Korky in the Charlie Grigg style that I'd grown up with.)
After 28 years it's a great shame that these pocket sized cousins of Dandy and Beano have suddenly folded, although not completely unexpected. The small handy format was once very popular, from the Fleetway Picture Libraries of the 1950s and 1960s to the Starblazer and Football books of the 1980s, but now Commando remains the sole remaining UK comic in this style. Fortunately D.C. Thomson are still committed to producing comics and the weekly versions of The Beano and The Dandy continue as does the monthly BeanoMAX.