Monday, August 01, 2011

40 Year Flashback: Dandy Summer Special 1971

It was never going to be an easy task following in the footsteps of two giants of the UK comics industry, and by the time the 1971 Dandy Summer Special was published the world of comics had lost both Dudley Watkins and Davy Law.

Pages being drawn in advance meant that Dudley Watkins, who passed away in 1969, had contributed one Desperate Dan strip to the 1970 special, but other Dan strips for that edition had been illustrated by Charlie Grigg. For the 1971 edition, all the Desperate Dan strips were by Charlie. It has to be said that he rose to the challenge well, and his pages are a delight. Charlie continued to draw Dan for the specials and annuals, but reprints of early 1960s Desperate Dan strips ran in the weekly for years.


Charlie Grigg was of course no newcomer to The Dandy. He'd been illustrating Korky the Cat since the early Sixties, and was the artist of such memorable strips as Charlie the Chimp, The Red Wrecker and The Umbrella Men. Versatile and able to handle humour strips in a clear, attractive style, he was the perfect choice for the new Desperate Dan artist.


Davy Law had taken ill in 1970 (and died in April 1971) and his regular Dandy strip, Corporal Clott, was taken over by James Hughes. The artist was still relatively new to the comic but had proven himself as the illustrator of the popular Bully Beef and Chips strip that was running on the back page of the weekly. Davy Law (best known for Dennis the Menace of course) had been an excellent artist with a deceptively simple style that had a draughtsman's knowledge of perspective and a natural eye for comedy. James Hughes' work was more basic, but he told a story clearly and had a great knack for drawing slapstick and comedy violence.


In short, although one might expect the Dandy Summer Special to be weaker because it had lost two of its strongest contributors it was still a top quality title because the standards were still flying high. The other contributors were also in the top league of British talent. Eric Roberts once again provided a puzzle page for the special, along with his regular strips Dirty Dick and Winker Watson...

Paddy Brennan provided one of the light adventure strips, Pete's Pranky Pup...


Bill Holroyd illustrated Brassneck...


Sandy Calder provided art on two adventure strips, Blinky's Big Blunder and Roller Skeets...


...and George Martin was on board providing more laughs with Greedy Pigg and his new strip Claude Hopper...


Add to this, Hugh Morren on The Smasher, John Geering on PC Big Ears, Ron Spencer on Whacko!, more work by Charlie Grigg and James Hughes and you have one superb comic from the days when Summer Specials truly lived up to their name.


Above: The Secret of the Silver Trumpet. A one-off adventure strip by Charlie Grigg.

2 comments:

OxfordDickie said...

This brings back so many memories, makes me want to go out and buy it....

Peter Gray said...

What a great issue..
as you say Griggs did a good job on Dan...glad he id get the chance to draw him...though i'm also glad the Deserate Dan reprints happened as Dudley is great..also as a kid I did enjoy those..

I like the one off characters also..it does make it more special..

lets hope there is a WHSmiths Dandy summer special one as it deserves it..

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