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When The Beano got good!

November 24, 2012

The Beano made possibly its greatest move in years a few weeks back. With The Dandy dying, Craig Graham and Michelle O’Donnell  joined The Beano back in August with the release of its mini-revamp of which changed most of the graphic design but keeping the regular characters (and removing Number 13, Pup Parade and The Germs in the process). 

However, as seen here in a previous blog post, The Beano was about to incorporate an even greater change. With The Dandy edging closer and closer by the day towards its final 100 page issue, it seemed The Dandy’s top artists and writers were going to go with it – after all, The Beano has a totally different style – doesn’t it?

My goodness, how wrong we were.

On November 10th 2012, The Beano suddenly had new life breathed into it. Inside readers were treated with ‘Mr. Meecher, the Uncool Teacher’ artist, Wilbur Dawbarn drawing possibly the greatest Billy Whizz in years with a nod back to the past in its distinct Malcolm Judge style; Funsize Funnies, two new pages which included mini-strips of classic bring-backs including Little Plum, Baby-Face Finlayson and Les Pretend plus all new pull-out Beano movie posters for your room, and that wasn’t even the coolest bit as they even included amazing 4 page movie parody comic strips on the back – such a brilliant move by The Beano here and one I am so far really enjoying!

The Beano’s latest revamp has amazed me so much, it just goes to show that we can always be pleasantly surprised by things. Below are my opinions on every single comic strip that features in the brilliant new incarnation of The Beano we have today:

Dennis the Menace and Gnasher by Nigel Parkinson and Nigel Auchterlounie

– Dennis has been on quite a rollercoaster in these last few years starting off in 2009 with the awful CBBC revamp where Dennis became soft and Walter became a bully – these mildly average storylines that reeked of “political-correctness-gone-mad” continued to plague The Beano for quite some time – up until August 2012 to be precise! In August, something changed in The Beano, the old retro cover idea was scrapped and along with it went the CBBC Dennis and Gnasher. The Menace was back! Dennis returned back to his brilliant old-self and with that he also regained his catapult and menace-filled storylines! Dennis’ parents were for some reason updated to younger versions – I personally didn’t like this part of the revamp but I’ve become used to them a bit more now. In the latest issue (#3662), Dennis gained a new writer alongside the return of his old artist, Nigel Parkinson – now Dennis was to be written by the very popular writer from The Dandy, Nigel Auchterlounie – this was certainly a good move meaning the stories have become funnier, wackier and all round better!

Minnie the Minx by Nigel Parkinson/Laura Howell/Ken Harrison

– For the new revamp, Minnie was reduced to only one page. This is something a majority of The Beano’s readers dislike about the new Beano as they feel Minnie is such an iconic character and deserves to have two pages. But they forget the old saying, “quality over quantity”… I’m quite a fan of Minnie the Minx to be quite honest – whilst many feel she is simply a female version of Dennis, I think that the two characters are actually very different, with Minnie being closer to her parents (particularly her Dad) and doesn’t menace people for no apparent reason. Minnie’s reducing to one page is actually something I quite like because I feel Minnie works just as well at one page and so far they’ve made a grand job of the new Minnie stories! Another thing I really like is seeing Nigel’s unique title panels every week, something I’ve missed seeing since they ended in The Bash Street Kids all those years back. *sniff*

The Bash Street Kids by David Sutherland

– The Bash Street Kids haven’t changed at all which is lovely to see, the pupils of Bash Street School have forever remained the same, still being drawn by the amazing David Sutherland to this very day. There’s nothing new about The Bash Street Kids and this is what I love, they don’t need updating because they’re brilliant as they are. That said, I would like to see them be a bit more naughty although they’ve even started that recently!

Roger the Dodger by Barrie Appleby

– Roger the Dodger was in reprints for almost all of 2011 and was still in Bob Nixon reprints all the way up to August 2012. However, like all the rest of the changes, Roger faced a brilliant change as the reprints ended and in replacement came brand-new Roger the Dodger episodes by his last new artist, Barrie Appleby. This was a great surprise because unlike others, I’ve always been a fan of Barrie’s Roger the Dodger. Like Dennis the Menace, Roger’s parents were also updated – although unlike Dennis’ parents, I actually really like the current parents! The only thing I’d like to see return is the checked border because that made the pages really stand out! 

Billy Whizz by Wilbur Dawbarn

– With Billy Whizz under the inks of Nick Brennan since 2009, the strips were beginning to become quite repetitive and whilst I loved Nick’s Billy Whizz – it just seemed to be getting old. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who sensed this because in the revamp that took place in #3660, Billy Whizz gained himself a brand-new artist – namely, ‘Mr. Meecher, the Uncool Teacher’ artist, Wilbur Dawbarn! Following Will’s Dandy Annual debut drawing Malcolm Judge’s ‘The Badd Lads’ among other classics, Wilbur was approached by The Beano to become the new artist (and writer) for Billy Whizz! This is actually my favourite addition to the comic as it’s not only brilliant to see the return of a classic Billy Whizz complete with his red shirt but also to see top Dandy and Phoenix artist, Wilbur Dawbarn finally getting to feature regularly inside The Beano!

The Numskulls by Barry Glennard

– The Numskulls have been the same for years, drawn by Barry Glennard. Whereas some people aren’t too keen on Barry’s artwork, I’m certainly a fan of his fun, appealing style. Many were quite surprised though to see The Numskulls move nearer to the back of the comic and reduced to one page – and we were even more surprised to discover it was a reprint – edited to replace the McFly CD cover with the latest One Direction CD – attention to detail much? Luckily, this reprint was a one-off as next week came a brand-new, one page story featuring Snitch and then in this week’s issue (#3662), The Numskulls returned to its regular two pages – what on earth?! 

Fred’s Bed by Jay C (mystery surname!)

– Sadly, not all of the additions to The Beano were good – or shall I say ‘removals’. It appears that popular reprint-to-new Fred’s Bed originally from The Beezer and Topper has finally ended after first appearing in the comic back in 2007.Of course, this is just speculation and I really hope it’s just having a small break and shall return soon.

Ball Boy by Dave Eastbury

– It’s unbelievable that this comic strip is still going strong in The Beano to this very day! Ball Boy was one that I always considered to be quite obscure so was amazed to find out it was still running in The Beano! Still, it’s brilliant at the moment and Dave is doing a grand job drawing it – although I would like to see a lot less of Chandra and a lot more of Titch, Goalie and Dimmy…

Meebo and Zuky by Laura Howell

– Meebo and Zuky has been running since 2010 and it’s becoming evident – there’s only so long a strip about cartoon violence can run for until it gets boring. I do like Meebo and Zuky and it is very clever at times – but I do feel it is becoming repetitive now and is losing its original charm. Perhaps it’s best to either silently drop it or reduce it to a mini-strip? Then replace it with Johnny Bean form Happy Bunny Green – I’m sure I’m not the only person who’d like to see that back!

Ratz by Hunt Emerson

– Ratz is another I’m certainly surprised to see still going. Starting in 2006, the strip has been overall quite high on my list with some very nice art supplied by Hunt Emerson. I was never too keen on Ratz to begin with but recently have really started to appreciate Hunt’s artwork. The strip hasn’t really changed except for Hunt’s artwork which is improving more and more each week – one thing I do miss though are the scripts supplied by Laura Howell. I liked them working together – nice to see a collaboration.

Bananaman by John Geering (reprint)

– The Beano began reprinting Bananaman stories from ‘Nutty’ back in January 2012. I’m not really too keen on them as I feel the humour is quite tiresome and reprinting a strip from The Dandy was always a bit pointless. Still, with The Dandy ending – I’m suddenly glad they have started reprinting it. The strip itself hasn’t changed at all due to it being a reprint – but the border has sadly gone.

Gnasher’s Bite by Barrie Appleby

– A strip which originally started off being quite funny beginning in 2011; Gnasher’s Bite too hasn’t really changed since the revamp but since August 2012 does have the old Gnasher and a new title panel. It’s become pretty tiresome recently though, a lot of jokes about postmen – I’d like to see a bit more originality. Perhaps it’s time to send in Nigel Auchterlounie! 

Calamity James by Tom Paterson (reprint)

– Calamity James reprints were reintroduced since being dropped back in 2011, I imagine the reason for this reprint to return was because Calamity James was very popular and many enjoy seeing Tom’s artwork. It doesn’t really bother me seeing the Calamity James reprints – but I do find I’m not nearly so entertained as many seem to be by his unlucky antics.

Little Plum by Laura Howell

– Everyone’s favourite redskin chum returned to The Beano in #3660 along with 7 other stories to fill in the spaces of the new comic pages ‘Funsize Funnies’ drawn (and supposedly written) by Laura Howell. Little Plum, in my opinion, has so far been one of my favourites and works surprisingly well as a mini-strip!

Gnash Gnews by Barrie Appleby

– The old “news-joke-strip” has become quite a cliché with The Dandy having three of their stories as news jokes and now The Beano have one too. But don’t get me wrong, I actually quite enjoy these news joke pieces – although I would like to see Gnash Gnews being renamed ‘Gnasher’s Gnews Bites’  for old times’ sake. I also really like Barrie’s artwork and the colour choices – the strip works very nicely and I have rather enjoyed it!

Winston by Paul Palmer

– Winston has been pun-filled so far and is basically cat jokes (“paws” button… octo-pussy… First Aid Kitty… geddit?). I’m not really getting into Winston very much – it seems to just be a way to use up “hilarious” cat puns – a shame as I really liked the Winston stories in the Beano Annual 2012. Still, Paul Palmer’s artwork is very nice to see!

Rasher by Lew Stringer

– I’ve really enjoyed Rasher’s outings so far in The Beano and I definitely feel Lew was a brilliant choice for the artist and writer! The stories so far have all been quite funny, the second and third ones are my favourite – I’m glad to see Rasher back as well because he’s quite a fun character! Although I don’t like the title font very much – would have preferred a hand-drawn one by Lew that represented Rasher better.

Simply Smiffy by Paul Palmer

– Simply Smiffy used to be brilliant back in the 1980s when he’d star alongside Normal Norman in a humorous comic series by Jerry Swaffield – so what happened? Simply Smiffy has been reduced to a mini-strip – a one-panel strip to be precise. This format does not suit Smiffy well at all – I always felt a strip like this should have a build-up to show the idiocy of the character – the one-panel format doesn’t allow for this much needed build-up. On the plus side, Paul Palmer’s artwork is very nice!

Baby-Face Finlayson by Alexander Matthews

– ‘Nuke Noodle’ and ‘Robot on the Run’ artist and writer, Alexander Matthews was the first person to announce his upcoming work for The Beano, thus setting the ball rolling (with Lew and Nigel soon both revealing their work too)! In the great issue (namely #3660), Alexander brought back the “Pest of the West” himself, Baby-Face Finlayson (who originally began in Little Plum, fact fans!) in all-new mini-strips. Baby-Face Finlayson has so far been absolutely fantastic and absolutely ridiculous! Alexander has certainly made a huge impact on The Beano and I hope soon we can be treated to a full page of his silliness!

Les Pretend by Laura Howell

– After previously running in The Beano by the late John Sherwood as a reprint run back in 2008, Les Pretend returned along with 7 other characters to fill up the Funsize Funnies illustrated (and supposedly written) by Laura Howell. I really like Laura’s Les Pretend artwork although so far the stories have been very average (excluding the second week which was quite good). I hope later episodes will be better.

Pup Parade by Nigel Auchterlounie

– After previously being another reprint-to-new series, Pup Parade ended after a strong 12-week run in new episodes by Nigel Parkinson. Pup Parade then returned to fill in the final spot in the Funsize Funnies drawn (and supposedly written) by Nigel Auchterlounie. Pup Parade has so far definitely been in my Top 3 Funsize Funnies – so far having a very good run in The Beano, also glad to see more characters being used (such as Tubby and ‘Enry) as opposed to using Sniffy (who notably has not appeared yet)!

A huge well-done to all of those onboard this latest revamp – The Beano is quickly becoming absolutely brilliant!

So there’s my verdict, facts and stuff – I hope you liked it! If you agree or have a different opinion, let me know below by leaving a comment!

Until next time, see ya, chums!

– Harry Rickard

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Oliver Forde permalink
    November 24, 2012 16:24

    Brilliant blog post but I need to correct you on one point – Ratz actually started in 2006, not 2007. Yep, it’s been going for that long.

    • November 24, 2012 16:25

      Crikey! That long ago, eh? Thanks Oliver, as you probably know, I only became a regular reader in September 2007 so thanks for the correction!

      • Oliver Forde permalink
        November 24, 2012 16:28

        Yep. I’m surprised you did’nt know that tbh. 🙂

  2. November 25, 2012 04:41

    You know, I am sort of glad the Dandy is ending so my subscription switches over to the Beano. It sounds like the Beano has improved a lot lately. But I am not too glad, because when my Dandy falls through the letterbox and I read it, I think how much I am going to miss it.

    • November 25, 2012 13:26

      Agreed, The Dandy hasn’t been good at all recently either with all the reprints – a very sad way to go. 😦

  3. November 27, 2012 03:38

    Correction: Bananaman was the cover star of Nutty for most of it’s run, and was on it’s back page before taking the cover. The strips the Beano uses are from the Dandy, but BeanoMAX does use the Nutty ones.

    And have you seen this?
    I don’t think Gnasher will be gnashing posties for much longer.

    • April 26, 2013 05:24

      I can understand you not liking the CBBC series (I didn’t care to watch it until this year). That’s fine by me but the idea of accusing the show and comic of being so-called “politically correct” is an outright lie. I have proof of this through my blog: which rips apart the accusations of PC-ness from the news. I actually enjoy the series and even the comic (even if both are hit-or-miss).

      I should look into why the comic isn’t politically correct too for good measure. Just a thought.

  4. November 29, 2012 17:06

    Nice review, Harry. Just one point: I’m not the writer of Rasher. Scripts are supplied to me by DC Thomson staff writer John Anderson. I’ve just finished drawing the one for the issue after Christmas and it made me chuckle reading the script so I hope the readers enjoy it too!

    • December 3, 2012 19:09

      Thank you very much, Lew! Thanks for the information as well, most appreciated. Wonderful, I can’t wait to see it!

  5. Harley permalink
    December 3, 2012 15:04

    Yeah the Dandy team did so well on their publication…gonna be great for The Beano…

  6. December 5, 2012 00:50

    Time for another correction. I spoke too soon! I’ve been asked to take over writing Rasher as well as drawing it now, so my first one will be the 8th strip, in January.

    • December 6, 2012 17:52

      Blimey! That’s a great surprise to hear! Can’t wait to read them!

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