Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Everyone's a winner with the new-look Beano

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
Barrie is still drawing the back page strip Gnasher's Bite and there's no change of artists for the other strips. Purists will be happy to hear that The Bash Street Kids are still in short trousers and, fifty years on, are still illustrated by Dave Sutherland (who also draws Fred's Bed in this issue). Nick Brennan is still proving to be an ideal artist for Billy Whizz, there's a Ken Harrison reprint for Minnie the Minx, and Barry Glennard continues to draw The Numbskulls, although its move to gross humour will undoubtedly upset some traditionalists.

I can hear the gnashing of critic's teeth from here.
Other strips in the comic are Meebo & Zuky by the talented Laura Howell, Ball Boy by the sometimes underrated Dave Eastbury, and a Bananaman reprint by the late, great John Geering.

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.  

19 comments:

Harry Rickard said...

In all fairness, the missing strips are two new ones and two reprints so at least it's bye-bye to the unfunny Germs!

Has Ratz ended then or is this just presuming so?

Also, ComicsUK claims Gnasher's Bit(e) is by Brighty - personally from looking at panel 7 it looks like Brighty's style although it is missing Brighty's signature whilst Barrie never signs his artwork. It's a mystery!

Lew Stringer said...

I've presumed the line-up for this new issue will be what we'll get for a while but I hope Ratz does return.

I don't think Gnasher's Bite is by Steve Bright. Some bits look like his work but the distinctive sound effects lettering and the wink are classic Barrie Appleby, so I'm assuming Barrie drew it.

Harry Rickard said...

From looking at the art-style of Gnasher's Bite in more detail - I've decided it could be Brighty ghosting Barrie's style - this can be supported by the fingernails and hand positions of the postie. This is a different style to Barrie's. I think.

Lew Stringer said...

I see what you mean. Panel 3 looks more like a Steve Bright style too. Tell you what, I'll go and ask him.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

Well, I'm going to miss Roger's dad - along with Les Pretend's dad, he was always my favourite of the "authority" figures. Still, times change and all that.

Remember that short period when Roger's dad was obsessed with Gary Glitter??

Lew Stringer said...

Can't say as I do. It might have been during a time when I wasn't reading the comic.

@Harry, I asked Steve and he says he definitely didn't draw the Gnasher's Bite strip and has never drawn one, so it looks like it is by Barrie Appleby. I guess Barrie has modified Gnasher slightly to reflect the return to the Menacing version, which is why it looked different to the previous week.

Harry Rickard said...

To be fair, I don't see the big fuss about Roger's parents getting updated. Roger's dad looks pretty much like Ivy's dad to me! Plus all of the parents get updated. When Hunt drew Fred's Bed - he made his mum slimmer and more attractive then when Dave and Tom took over, they made the mum look larger and less attractive. Both styles work for me.

Nick Brennan also changed Billy's parents completely when he took over making Billy's dad fat and removing his strange nose and moustache and then made the mum blonde and have a different nose and hair-style.

The only parent who has not been radically changed thoughout her time in the comic is Edd's mum in The Numskulls who has always looked the same. Then again, we haven't seen Ball Boy's parents in a while...

Wil said...

That's a super messy cover and the logo's a bit awkward. Despite the little arrow it still reads like 'starring Dennis and the menace Gnasher'. I hope their way of avoiding cover tat works but it'd also be nice to see a really bold cover, too.

Lew Stringer said...

I thought they did the best they could with the logo really. The CBBC Dennis and Gnasher design was fixed, so incorporating "the Menace" was never going to be easy.

It's worth their while trying that busy/messy cover design as presumably the previous bold one didn't work.

As for cover tat, The Beano and The Dandy haven't featured gifts for quite a while now. BeanoMax, which has also had a design tweak, is still bagged with toys though. Of the two, The Beano stood out the most on the shelves.

Wil said...

I just popped into my local WHS in Leamington to get my son the new Thundercats and took a quick apprasial. The Beano was out on it's own with a few Beano specials on a separate rack but I put one in amongst the rest to test it's cover appeal. Granted, it's better that it doesn't have tat taped to it (Thundercats has pretty much all of its cover obliterated by a standard plastic gun) but it still blends in pretty well with all the other covers. I can only imagine that there have been focus tests done that confirm that kids prefer these really busy covers. If that's the case then fine. I still don't like 'em but if it works...

Lew Stringer said...

Personally I'd like to see a return to the clear covers and primary-coloured mastheads of the 1960s and 1970s, but that didn't always work considering all the comics that fell by the wayside.

We live in a society that's never cared much for comics and is becoming increasingly indifferent towards them. It really is difficult to know how to appeal to readers. Focus groups may yield positive results but it's irrelevant if the kids can't be bothered to buy a comic regularly. Thanks to the Internet, kids expect everything for nothing now, often egged on by parents who are illegally downloading music and films themselves. We're all doomed I tell ya! Doomed!

Twitter @MLPasterisk said...

Seems to be some controversy regarding the golden ticket promotion on the Beano Facebook site.
Apparently the Beano website has been down and those who have managed to get through have found that their "prize" is a free digital subscription to The Beano.

Lew Stringer said...

It's still a prize though.

The Beano lists all the main prizes, along with the quantities of each item. Totting them all up it comes to about 284 prizes. Obviously The Beano's circulation is in the thousands, so most people won't win one of the 284 prizes. People should consider the digital sub a consolation prize perhaps?

George Shiers said...

The revamp looks good! The only thing I don't like is the cover - but then again I generally don't like messy covers (I like comic strips on them)!

A 3 month digital subscription os still a pretty good prize though right?

Lew Stringer said...

I think it's a good prize too, although some seem to disagree. Seems that even when people get something for nothing they STILL aren't satisfied!

Paul said...

That strip along the bottom of the cover looks a bit familiar!

http://www.dwamag.com/this-week%27s-issue.aspx

Lew Stringer said...

Toxic has featured a similar strapline for years too. However it's not uncommon for comics to imitate each other's cover layouts. It's been going on since the first comics rolled off the press. :-)

Robert said...

Bought this for my daughter this week and panicked that the Beano might be going in the direction of the likes of Dandy Xtreme and that can't end well...

Like you, I miss Roger's dad's walrus tache - guess he's finally caught up with the times, dieted and reached for the hairdye.

Hey, Lew, did you catch Steve Bell's If in the Guardian last week? Deliberately riffing on Ken Reid's Jonah - track it down if you can.

Lew Stringer said...

I don't miss the 'tache Dad at all. The revamped version should have been done years ago in my opinion. Look out for Dennis' parents getting a makeover this week. Again, not before time.

I haven't seen Steve's cartoons recently. My local shops only take The Guardian on order.

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