Who could have believed that in 2014 we'd see an annual with a cover strip featuring Big Eggo blowing up Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering? That's exactly what we get with The Beano and The Dandy: The Comics that won The War!, the latest collection of classic DC Thomson strips.
These archive books have been published every year since the 50 Golden Years book in 1987 and I think this is the best one yet. Many of the previous books have often chopped up strips or overlapped pages to present a busy layout to appeal to children, but this one presents full page strips with no intrusions or redesigning. It gives the impression that this book is aimed at the older reader and the collectors so I hope it sells well in order to encourage DC Thomson to stick to this design.
The contents are marvelous, with numerous strips scanned from wartime editions of The Dandy and The Beano. My only quibble is that most of the art is uncredited, which isn't what one expects from a book aimed at collectors.
One artist who is given his due is Dudley Watkins, and there's a fantastic pencil sketch of his in here that I've never seen before. There are also many of his Desperate Dan and Lord Snooty strips reprinted, showcasing some very bizarre and surreal stories.
Just when you think the book is solely about The Dandy and The Beano it throws a curveball with some fantastic cover art from The Rover, The Skipper and The Hotspur story papers.
There are also a few post-war strips that had WW2 themes, such as a complete Blitz Boy story from an early sixties Dandy Book, drawn by Paddy Brennan.
One of the weirdest strips in the book is a Wild Boy of the Woods episode which features a giant robot Hitler! That's right, - a giant robot Hitler! So bizarre it's worth the cover price alone.
All in all, The Beano and The Dandy: The Comics that won The War is an excellent collection and deserves a place on the bookshelves of every collector of British comics. The R.R.P. is £12.99 but you'll find it cheaper than that if you shop around.