|The MENACE is back in town!|
It's been quite a while since a comic proclaimed there was something "Free Inside!". Usually gifts are now taped to the covers causing a sticky mess or tears, or they're bagged with the comic preventing shoppers browsing before they buy. Today's gift of a Golden Ticket is, like gifts of old, lightly glued to one of the interior pages, meaning that The Beano fits neatly on the shelf and subsequently it stood out the most amongst the stacks of untidy comics in my local WH Smith.
More on the Golden Ticket later. Readers of this blog are no doubt more interested in the comic itself. Given a slight makeover from this week, the masthead of the comic now reads The Beano starring Dennis the Menace and Gnasher (although officially it's still known simply as 'The Beano'). This is a change that should have happened years ago in my view, as Dennis and Gnasher are the main draws of the comic so it makes sense to feature their logo as prominent as possible. And, yes, you read that right. It's Dennis the Menace again, moving away a bit from the nice guy of the cartoon and closer to the character's original roots. Nigel Parkinson takes over from Barrie Appleby on art, and does a great job as always.
As for Barrie Appleby, he's moved back to illustrating Roger the Dodger which in recent years had been reprinting Robert Nixon strips. Interestingly, Roger's parents have been revamped considerably and are now much younger in appearance than the original Ken Reid designs. (Dad is slimmer, has lost the grey hair and 'tache, whilst Roger's mum is now a sexy blonde in a crop top!)
|Roger's new Dad, by Barrie Appleby|
|I can hear the gnashing of critic's teeth from here.|
Surprisingly there aren't any new strips starting in this new-look Beano, and sadly Hunt Emerson's Ratz seems to have gone the way of Super School. Instead, the emphasis this issue is on the Golden Ticket promotion. Each ticket carries its unique secret code and readers are invited to enter it online at http://www.beano.com where they'll be guaranteed a prize. Inside the comic, five pages are given over to promoting the various items one could win, along with the website addresses of the manufacturers or promoters. It's all a big marketing push obviously, and whilst we'd all prefer those five pages to be occupied with comic strips instead these promotions are a worthwhile attempt to gain - or retain - readers. The top prize is a family holiday to Universal Orlando Resort. Or you might only win a digital Beano subscription. Either way, no one loses.
|Go for gold!|
With only 19 of its 36 pages given to comic strips the new-look Beano is considerably different to the comic most of us grew up with. We'd all prefer it to be wall to wall comic strips but every publication has to work within the budget allocated to it. However it's still a lively looking comic and although I'm not a great fan of "busy" (ie: cluttered) cover designs it does work well here. Let's hope the tweaks give The Beano a good boost and ensure it has safe passage as it sails towards its 75th anniversary in a year's time.
The Beano - still only £1.50. Out now and every Wednesday.