|Cover by Nigel Parkinson.|
A few years ago The Beano came under criticism from some readers on forums for featuring a few pages that were reprint, and for frequently being polybagged with "plastic tat" (or gifts as they're known). Some of the criticism was valid, although in fairness editors had to work within a budget (hence the reprints) and the bagged gifts were a logical way to compete with rival publications (which are always bagged).
Times change, and in recent years The Beano has implemented some considerable improvements. The reprints are all gone and the content is now 100% new material. Bagged gifts have been a rarity the last couple of years, with only the Christmas issue and one recent issue carrying gifts in the last several months. There's also been a shakeup of content, with mini-strips helping to increase the number of characters in each issue, and relatively new artists joining established creators.
This week, The Beano adds six new strips (four minis, two half pagers) which are mostly revamps of some old favourites. Now we have Bea-Beware by Nigel Parkinson, Constable Caveman and Emlyn the Gremlin by Andy Fanton, Tom, Dick and Sally by Steve Beckett, Pun Direction by Stu Munro, and Lord Snooty by me.
There's a good range of differing humour styles in the comic these days, including Nigel Parkinson's Dennis the Menace, Wilbur Dawbarn's Billy Whizz, Alan Ryan's Number 13, Diego Periera's Pieface, Hunt Emerson's Little Plum and Steve Waller's Gwyneth's Book of Records. It's all good stuff.
If you haven't read The Beano in a while (or, horror of horrors, you've never read it) the current issue would be a great starting point. Issue No.3737 is in the shops now, and at £2.00 for 36 full colour pages is still the cheapest comic on the shelves.