Sunday, December 16, 2012
The Beano and the Fourth Wall (Updated)
As every Beano reader knows, the comic has had a very long tradition of what's known as "breaking the fourth wall" in which the characters, aware that they exist in a comic, often address the reader directly. The instances of this are countless, and have often been seen in many other comics too of course.
However, comics sometimes go a step further, making this "breaking of the fourth wall" even more surreal. Here's an example above, from The Beano No.1331 (January 20th 1968) where Biffo's entire world is jeopardised by him losing the very inks necessary to his existence!
I would guess that artist Dudley Watkins drew the whole page in black ink as usual, leaving the Beano production office to eliminate the black from the necessary panels after they'd done the colour overlays. Which means that somewhere in the Beano archives the original art to this page would feature the ink lines that were never published. (Perhaps it'd make a nice extra for a Beano 75th special next summer?)
Almost two years later, in The Beano No.1432 (Dec.27th 1969), a similar device was used at the end of The Bash Street Kids story. Artwork by Dave Sutherland...
...and as that was the Christmas 1969 issue I thought you'd like to see the cover as well. See if you can guess who sent the cards. (Update: Answers in comments section.)
UPDATE: I'd almost forgotten about my favourite surreal Beano cover of the 1960s! This excellent Dudley Watkins cover from issue 1270, November 19th 1966. The concept absolutely fascinated me when I was seven, and I still think it's an amazingly bizarre idea to use on a children's comic. Biffo not only breaks the fourth wall, he rolls it up! I think this was the moment when I realized that you could do anything in a comic strip. (Apologies for the yellowed condition of this one. I didn't start looking after my comics carefully until a few months later.)