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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

My Dream Beano

November 24, 2012

Something I enjoy writing is my very own Dream Beano – so here is my current one based off the current revamp.

For my Dream Beano, I want to be more realistic than usual when I’d give The Beano something like 58 pages so here is a 40 page Beano (that’s only 4 pages above the normal page count).

PG 1: Front Cover – Various

– As much as I like Nigel Parkinson’s artwork, it gets dull seeing Dennis the Menace forever heralding the front cover – I’d like to see some other characters get the limelight. A Fred’s Bed one and Meebo and Zuky one would both be quite dynamic I reckon due to their action. However, I do understand that Dennis is a household name so it’s a risk to remove him from the cover spot.

PG 2: Funsize Funnies #1:

– Derek the Sheep by Gary Northfield
– Biffo by Stephen Waller
– Fred the Flop by Andy Fanton
– Colonel’s Crackpot Circus by Will Dawbarn

– I feel that the more ‘Funsize Funnies’ pages included – the better! I chose the following for different reasons. I felt Derek the Sheep would work nicely in this format and it would also be nice to see Gary Northfield and Derek both back in the pages of The Beano. Biffo was included as he’s such a famous character and I loved his silent era – I also felt Biffo would be a great story for Stephen Waller. Fred the Flop is the black sheep of these four stories – a comic strip from Buzz and later on Topper and not too well-known. However, after seeing Constable Clod by Andy in The Dandy, I felt this story would be perfect to explore the opposite side, and let’s be honest, Andy had to draw it! Finally, another obscurity, Malcolm Judge’s first ever Beano strip, ‘Colonel’s Crackpot Circus’ of course being drawn by Will Dawbarn due to his incredible Billy Whizz and Badd Lads!

PG 3: What’s Inside?/Desert Island Dick by Nick Brennan

– A full contents page preferably, including a mini-strip of Topper classic, ‘Desert Island Dick’. I think that Dick would be a good addition to the comic!

PG 4: Dennis the Menace and Gnasher by Nigel Parkinson/Barrie Appleby/Steve Beckett (and Nigel Auchterlounie)

– Dennis the Menace stays pretty much the same – but I would like to see ‘the Menace’ being added to the title of the strip again. Maybe a new logo all together, the 2009 CBBC one has become old. I’d like a mixture of artists drawing Dennis the Menace as well; as much as I love Nigel’s Dennis – I would like to see Steve and Barrie both draw it at times.

PG 7: Win Awesome Stuff!

– I’ve started to accept competition pages will always remain in comics so will leave it in. It is a good non-comic strip page besides.

PG 8: Billy Whizz by Will Dawbarn

– If it’s not broken, don’t fix it…

PG 9: Number 13 by Laura Howell

– Following her great Number 13 story in The Beano Annual 2013, I’d like to see some new Number 13 stories by Laura in the weekly. After all, reprint or not – it was a great story!

PG 10: The Numskulls by Barry Glennard

– I prefer The Numskulls being near the front of The Beano as opposed to nearer to the back, it feels right being early on. Also feel Barry Glennard has done a brilliant job on The Numskulls for all these years so why stop him?

PG 12: Puzzle Page by Various/Advert

– Always liked the hand-drawn puzzle pages in The Dandy so would like to see them in The Beano as well drawn by different artists each week.

PG 13: Minnie the Minx by Nigel Parkinson/Ken Harrison/Laura Howell

– Something many may disagree on is that I’d keep Minnie at only one page. She doesn’t need to take up two pages to be funny! She’s been great so far at only one!

PG 14: Ratz by Hunt Emerson (and Laura Howell)

– I rather like Ratz and think it brings a different style of writing to The Beano quite nicely. Also really like Hunt Emerson’s urban art-style – but of course, Laura Howell would be back on writing duties!

PG 15: Funsize Funnies #2:

– Little Plum by Laura Howell
– Gnash Gnews by Barrie Appleby
– Foxy by Stu Munro
– Rasher by Lew Stringer

– Same mini-strips as usual on this page with the exception of Winston and the addition of Foxy by Stu Munro. The reason I decided to include Foxy was because I felt it would work nicely as a mini-strip and Stu Munro has a good style.

PG 16: New Strip by Jamie Smart

– Jamie needs a story in The Beano so a page is definitely reserved for him to go mad on! I think many younger Beano readers would love his style of humour as well!

PG 17: Super School by Lew Stringer

– Super School is a strip I really want to see back. It was fun and different plus Lew’s artwork was always nice to see. Certainly one I’d bring back.

PG 18: Jonah by Steve Beckett

– A Beano classic and one I reckon should definitely return! I think Steve Beckett would be capable of drawing an amazing Jonah as well!

PG 19: Ivy the Terrible by Andy Fanton

– Another story I reckon Andy would be good at! Ivy is such a strong character and I would really like to see the little terror back under the new pens of Mr. Fanton!

PG 20: The Bash Street Kids by David Sutherland

– Like with Billy Whizz, if it ain’t broken – don’t bother fixing it! Dave has been brilliant for all these years and I’d hate to see him stop now! 

PULLOUT:

– Poster  by Various

– Comic Strip by Various

– This is a new feature in The Beano I really love! What an ingenious idea! Although I think that they should make that if you get the comic – there’s a code inside to get delivered the poster itself so you can have both the comic strip to read and the poster to put up on your bedroom wall.

PG 22: Ball Boy by Dave Eastbury

– I know some people don’t like Ball Boy but I’ve always enjoyed Ball Boy! A fun look at football! Although get rid of Chandra already! So unneeded!

PG 23: The Beano Subscription Page/Advert

– Would like to see this looking a bit more exciting. Maybe a few hand-drawn subscriptions pages like in The Phoenix recently? Certainly makes the pages look more appealing!

PG 24: Dangerous Dan by Nigel Parkinson

– This “spy” must return! Honestly, the greatest surprise of all of 2011 (along with the return of Fatty Fudge). The strip felt mistreated and will probably never return – but still, I’m still backing it. Bring back Dangerous Dan!

PG 25: Funsize Funnies #3:

– Meebo and Zuky by Laura Howell
– The 3 Bears by Paul Palmer (and Nigel Auchterlounie)
– Joe Jitsu by Wayne Thompson
– Pansy Potter by Barry Glennard

– Four new ones. First is Meebo and Zuky which I’m growing tired of so would like to see it in a new format so we can have a variety! The 3 Bears are characters that simply must return – I can also imagine Paul Palmer being brilliant at drawing them – scripts by Nigel Auchterlounie. Joe Jitsu is an odd one to have but I like Wayne’s artwork and found Joe Jitsu was actually quite a good character who’d work well in a three-panel format. Finally Pansy Potter who I’ve always rather liked and who I think would once again work nicely in the three-panel format!

PG 26: Bananaman by Steve Bright  (and Alexander Matthews)

– I’d like to see some new Bananaman stories with  Alexander writing it with his unique humour and the amazing Brighty drawing it!

PG 28: The Dennis the Menace Fan Club

– I like readers’ pages in comics. They seem to work well, but I’d like to see them laid out a bit neater. Also the return of the actual Dennis the Menace Fan Club complete with the two badges! It was successful in the past and I’m sure many would love to see it back!

PG 29: Fatty Fudge by Jim Petrie (reprint)

– I have to be realistic and if there has to be a reprint in there, I’d like it to be this. Fatty Fudge was a fun character and seemed quite popular – popular enough to even get into the Christmas Beano 2011! 

PG 30: Fred’s Bed by Alexander Matthews

– Fred’s Bed is a fun strip and works well at two pages so this definitely comes back with Alexander writing it with his unique humour and also drawing it in his appaealing style!

PG 32: Kick-Ass Koalas by Peter Player

– These koalas are simply awesome! They must be in the weekly! I really enjoyed them featuring in The BeanoMAX so would like to see them again!

PG 34: Johnny Bean from Happy Bunny Green by Laura Howell

– I honestly loved this strip so much and was upset to see it end. Would love to see it back at a page again replacing Meebo and Zuky.

PG 35: Jumpin’ with Jokes! by Nigel Auchterlounie

– I’m quite a fan of joke page when they’re drawn jokes like Stripz. Nigel is also a brilliant writer and has a fun style which would suit the wacky humour on this page.

PG 36: Roger the Dodger by Barrie Appleby

– Roger works nicely as it is so no editing required! But the border must return!

PG 38: Funsize Funnies #4:

– BSK: Singled Out by Paul Palmer (and Andy Fanton)
– Baby-Face Finlayson by Alexander Matthews
– Les Pretend by Laura Howell
– Pup Parade by Nigel Auchterlounie

– Basically the current cast on Funsize Funnies #2 but this time with the addition of BSK: Singled Out by Paul Palmer with scripts supplied by Andy Fanton. The rest stay the same as they’re all brilliant!

PG 39: Next Week in The Beano

– Same as it normally looks but with a striped background just so it doesn’t look as plain. Other than that, it’s perfect!

PG 40: The Riot Squad by Ken Harrison

– Finally on the back cover is The Riot Squad which I always really liked – reprints or not! Ken’s artwork is beautiful and he’s brilliant at these fun and busy scenes – a nice back page story as well I reckon!

So, there’s my Dream Beano – what do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

(Coming soon, a blog post about the new-look Beano!)

Until then, goodbye my friends!

– Harry Rickard

Chords

November 23, 2012

Hello, chums! Something a little different today as I share with you my GCSE Creative Writing piece entitled simply ‘Chords’, where I decided to tell the story of a man and his cheap, wooden ukulele. I am honestly so proud of this piece and is probably my best piece of writing I have ever done. I would love your feedback on it!

Chords

~ By Harry Rickard ~

Have you ever played ukulele before?

I sat down on the high wooden stool; in my hands I held a ukulele. Not a fancy one costing £100.00 to purchase – nor a “funky” one painted an appealing shade of blue or red. Just a standard, plain, wooden ukulele.

I made myself as comfortable as I could on what could only be described as the most uncomfortable of furniture, and then, using my worn fingernail, placing my finger on the first string; third fret, I strummed an appealing ‘C Major’, the first chord I had ever learnt. The baby step of a ukulele. I followed on with a series of different chords; when I played ‘A minor’, suddenly the mood of the harmless tune changed and I felt a pang of sadness. A single tear cascaded down my cheek.

A report card I held in my small, shaking, pale hands; I was beside myself with fear. It wasn’t my fault, he was so laid-back and all he wanted was to get his month’s pay and then he’d be off with not a concern about us, the ones he left behind. An agonising pain came from my behind, six-of-the-best all because I got a question wrong? It’s not discipline – it’s torture.

My hand shook as I knocked on the huge door standing high in front of me. From inside I heard footsteps and the creaking of loose floorboards – then the brass door-knob slowly turned clockwise and the door swung open on its hinges. In the doorway was a giant man with bulking muscles and a cigar lightly crushed between his yellowed, iron teeth. My father. He immediately peered down at me with his eagle eyes and saw my report card, slightly crumpled and ripped. He glared at my face; pale with fear, tears welling up in my bright blue eyes; my hands and knees quivering. I had a reason to be shaking like a leaf; I had a fear. Not for the implausible. A fear of my dad.

His face reddened as he held out my report card between his huge hands. In one tug, he tore the card in two, shreds of paper slowly sinking to the floor. He grabbed me by the ear and pulled me, the creaks had become deafening thuds as he stormed into the living room. He then bent me over, clenching a wooden cane in his iron fist and gave me twenty solid smacks on my behind. I struggled to cry. Only a single tear cascaded down my cheek.

I changed the tune and blinked a few times to remove the tears that were forming in my eyes. I played a jolly tune this time, as I reached ‘D Major’, it felt like my soul had been lifted.

I climbed the rungs of the wooden ladder and hoisted myself up and into the attic; I never realised how many boxes could be stored in such a tiny place. I searched around and I finally found the box full of Christmas decorations. I smiled as I remembered last year, the kids loved putting the baubles and tinsel on the tree. We all loved it.

I was about to descend from the attic when in the corner of my eye, I spotted something poking out of one of the cardboard boxes. A stock head and fretboard! I rushed over to the box and slowly opened the flap, there, in amongst a pile of random junk was my ukulele. It was like I had discovered treasure! I used to play ukulele so much when I was in my teenage years; I could remember being quite good at it too! I tried playing the four chords, I could still remember it all perfectly after so many years. “TWANG!” Cripes, I guess it does need tuning again…

But you know what they say? Practice makes perfect, that old cliché. Nevertheless, it was true; five months later and I was really improving. But of course, I wasn’t perfect.

I smiled as I began to sing my favourite song,

“You’ve got a friend in me…”

The chords went like clockwork; C, G+, C, C7, F, F#°, C, C7… I felt at peace, like the world was at my fingertips. The occasional twang made the tune feel familiar. I felt like I was Randy Newman and it felt great.

I ended on C, the entire time thinking about how my life had improved – my kids were growing up, my beautiful wife and my dear ukulele. Life was good. I stood up from the stool, a pain in my backside, but minor in contrast to the whacks I received as a child. I held my ukulele firmly in my right hand and raised my arms as a huge applause came from in front of me. Thank god I went to find those decorations all those years back.

A single tear cascaded down my cheek – only this times, one of happiness.

The chords all tell a little part of my life – all bringing back memories; some fond, some which I’d rather forget forever.

But the good memories outweigh the bad ones and I’ve learnt that you will always remember the good times as long as you play the right chords.

I do hope you enjoyed that! If you did, please leave some feedback in the comments of what bits you liked, disliked and anything else!

Coming soon will be a piece on the new-look Beano as promised – but until then…

Toodle pip, chaps!

– Harry Rickard

Is it the artwork or the story?

November 20, 2012

The Dandy is dying. The depressing amount of issues left that appears down the side of the cover and the amount of reprints that fill its once fun pages – a comic I have grown up with and loved is dying. And it hasn’t got much longer left…

It angers me. It really does. 

The Dandy famously (or apparently not-so-famously) revamped on October 27th 2010 – the magazine content was gone and within its place came zany new stories, bonkers new characters and a lot of new fun we’d never seen before in comics since the death of Oink.

After reading #3508 of this incredible comic – I immediately though, “This is amazing! Finally, a proper comic!”. At this point, The Beano was certainly around its weakest with possibly the worst Christmas Special I have ever read just around the corner and when compared to the almighty 76 page Christmas Dandy – rightfully named ‘The Monster Special’ with its extra-long stories and wide range of talents.

But people still preferred the 48 page Beano to the 76 page Dandy. Why? Because of the artwork.

The Beano certainly has nicer artwork, sticks closer to the traditional style and certainly has a more appealing style with cartooning greats such as Ken Harrison and Dave Sutherland drawing in its pages. But whilst The Dandy has a more modern style to it – it’s certainly funnier than the stale Beano.

It frustrates me. People take one look at The Dandy and say “What have they done to it? It looks nothing like it used to! What’s happened to Desperate Dan and why doesn’t he have cow pies any more?” etcetera, etcetera… 

But nobody gave The Dandy a chance. No one decided to actually read the stories. because adults just look at the artwork and make stupid assumptions.

This is what frustrates me. I understand if you prefer The Beano to The Dandy because you prefer the characters – that’s fair enough. But to immediately label The Dandy as something that looks like it was drawn by “fourteen-year-olds” (as once said by one of the regular nostalgists that continue to slag off The Dandy) is simply idiotic.

So people prefer comics with good artwork and weak stories to fairly good artwork and very funny stories? My mind’s blown.

What’s a well-drawn comic strip without a good storyline? Answer: Something you’d see in The Beano.

I don’t know about the rest of this seemingly messed-up nation who also believe TOWIE deserves awards and think programmes such as X-Factor are actually entertaining but I for one know that when it comes to comics – I’d much prefer a good storyline to good artwork.

I lose a little bit of hope each day living in this stupid generation.

Rest in peace, Dandy – you were brilliant…

More to come very soon, until then, farewell!

– Harry Rickard

Update!

November 4, 2012

 

A quick heads-up to you all to announce the pointless news that I’ve changed the header of my blog as the old one was very outdated (still reading “Just moved in”) so here’s a simple new one – what do you all think?

Okay, that’s about it. But expect a blog post on Wednesday regarding The Beano!

But until then,

See ya, chaps!

– Harry Rickard

Changes coming to The Beano.

November 3, 2012

What is The Beano to you? To me it is a comic playing it safe sticking to a more old-fashioned, traditional-styled comic which at times tries to be cool and ultimately fails. It’s not a bad comic. It’s just not as good as The Dandy was. I say was as this top comic is ending after 75 years thanks to the amount of stupid people who hate how The Dandy has actually become a good comic and preferred the old Desperate Dan. But I’m going off-topic as usual.

*ahem*

The Beano is the comic which sticks with its recognisable “naughty kids” theme throughout as well as including reprints. But recently, The Beano has changed. The Germs and Number 13 have been removed meaning the only remaining reprint is John Geering’s ‘Bananaman’. Nigel Parkinson stopped drawing Fred’s Bed and Pup Parade and took over ‘Dennis and Gnasher’ and bringing it back to its menacing old days. With updates to the parents, the menace back and the CBBC-ified soft version eradicated forever plus Roger the Dodger returning back to new strips by Barrie Appleby – The Beano was really changing.

But the changes weren’t as radical and Mark McIlmail had made them out to be. Was this it? Was this the exciting change? Nope! This was just the beginning!

The Dandy was dying and it looked like its top artists and writers would go down with it. That was until this week.

This week’s issue of The Beano was its Bonfire Night Special (which didn’t actually have a lot to do with Bonfire Night) but there next to the awful ‘Fred’s Fantastic Facts’ page was a new addition to the comic. A puzzle page.

It may not seem thrilling but the Halloween issue the week before had a puzzle page by Lew Stringer in it called ‘Horrornation Street’. It all looked very Dandy-esque. Lew Stringer hadn’t been seen in The Beano for ages after the announcement of the resting of Lew’s only Beano series, ‘Super School’ so this was a pleasant surprise and secretly I’m sure we all wanted to see Lew back in there!

And a puzzle page appeared the week after which was a nice new addition! Actual hand-drawn puzzle pages – 100& drawn, not put together graphically. A hand-drawn puzzle. Very similar to The Dandy.

And what made it even more similar to The Dandy was the choice of artist. ‘Justin Beaver’ and ‘Tiny’s Temper’ artist, Stu Munro. In fact, Stu appeared in both The Beano and BeanoMAX in their latest issues!

But that was just the first part of an exciting series of events…

On the first of November, a new announcement came which top Dandy artist and writer, Alexander Matthews, announcing his latest projects:

‘007 Iron’ for GolfPunk Magazine (which I have never heard of)…

‘Bad Hair Day’ for The Digital Dandy! Blimey! More on this later…

And the cutest pest in the West (or so he tells us)! The return of Beano classic, ‘Baby-Face Finlayson’!

And so begins the next part of the topic! Part 2 of this wonderful chapter of The Beano!

That’s right, expert Dandy scribbler, Alexander Matthews, is joining The Beano drawing brand-new episodes of the baby bandit! No more has been said yet about Baby-Face’s triumphant return but Alex has told us one thing:

“It’s not going to be a full-page either to start with.”

Make of that what you will – could it be a mini-series? Or maybe a two-pager for its pilot episode of the series. It’s all very intriguing but I guess we’ll just have to sit tight and wait to see what happens!

And announced today by top British cartoonist, Lew Stringer, on his personal Facebook page is the exciting news that Lew Stringer is returning to The Beano possibly next week as he has been asked by the editor to produce a mini-strip series of an old-ish Beano character! Here’s Lew’s comment:

“Currently drawing an old (ish) Beano character who returns to the comic soon (next week I think) in a new series of mini-strips. More news soon.”

Series? Mini-strips? Blimey, looks like The Beano is taking The Dandy route finally! With more to be revealed, the whole operation sounds extremely exciting!

Who shall be next to reveal their big Beano project? Andy Fanton? Stephen Waller? Steve Beckett? I have no idea but I’m so happy that The Beano is finally doing something right!

UPDATE!

Lew Stringer revealed last night on his personal Facebook page what story he will be drawing for The Beano as of the revamp NEXT WEEK! The artist who has only ever drawn Super School as well as one Ivy story and a few Fun-Size stories for The Beano is back and drawing a brand-new mini-strip series of Dennis’ pot-bellied pig, Rasher! Here’s a photo Lew shared on there as part of the huge announcement!

Other news revealed by Peter Gray also immersed on the Facebook page such as ‘Minnie the Minx’ and ‘The Numskulls’ being reduced to only one page each, the reprinted return of Tom Paterson’s incredible ‘Calamity James’, ‘Mr. Meecher, the Uncool Teacher’ artist, Wilbur Dawbarn, drawing brand-new Billy Whizz episodes plus a price increase to £2.00!

It’s all very exciting, and that’s just the beginning!

Never be without a Beano, chaps!

– Harry Rickard

Pictures from the blog of Alexander Matthews, Lew Stringer’s Facebook page and LogoPedia. Thank you, chaps!

The History of The Wizzo

September 30, 2012

 

Today has been a day of looking back at the past. I don’t know what triggered it but all I’ve been doing today is reading old blog posts and looking back at how far The Wizzo has come. So here is a blog post dedicated to my comic. The comic I am so proud to be such a major part of. The comic I share with many others. The comic which has changed my life.

So here is a history lesson which I will always remember and be proud to have been a huge part of. Enjoy…

The History of The Wizzo Comic

2008:

In September 2008, myself, along with two of my friends created something which I am now incredibly passionate about – almost to the length of it being my life in a sense. This quite clearly being my co-creation, The Wizzo.

The idea came around after my friend suggested it. In early development, we originally had the idea of it being an action comic called ‘Hero’ – however, it was quickly decided that with myself being far more into humour comics – the idea was soon stuck with humour and work began almost immediately.

It was just an ordinary walk home from school – just three little kids from year 7 with a big idea. I’ll never forget that walk home as if I had chosen not to walk with them – we may never have seen The Wizzo begin.

Stories were fired around the table as soon as we got back to my house. Familiar names like Blong, Zappy, Chav and Joust Joking being quickly mentioned by myself. Soon came more stories like Frank’s Footie Team and Patrick the Prankster.

2009-2010:

During the era of 2008-2010 – we released two issues of our comic and we were mighty proud of ourselves. Back then, they were treasures to us. Now I look back at them and laugh. Whether that’s a good laugh is arguable. But hey, what we had there were the makings of something which I absolutely love.

Sadly, things wouldn’t last – artists quit, some dropped out while others realised they weren’t good enough to be in the comic. It was a sad time for The Wizzo and soon there were only three of us, me, Hannes Smit and Kieren Gillespie. I was close to announcing the end to our unknown comic, all hope lost.

Then came the moment which I will always remember and will always be grateful for. The day we decided to revamp.

November 2010, thank you so much for what you’ve done to our comic. The Dandy revamped for what was recently announced to sadly be its final revamp in October 2010 and we were inspired. Very inspired.

The idea of revamping triggered off during the most boring of Maths lessons. Kieren and I were sat at the back of the class whilst the teacher went completely off-topic and told some sort of story. I suggested we revamp. That is pretty much it. There was no build-up whatsoever. I announced we were going to revamp and no one disagreed.

The first character to be designed for this new-look Wizzo was Robert Robot. Possibly our most famous and most popular creation of the revamp – and also my favourite of my characters. Next came Tall and Small, then we decided to revive Joust Joking and reduce him down to a mini-strip and discovered deviantART and hired our first ever Wizzo artist who we had never met. Jonathan Barham.

He introduced us to Tornado Tommy, The Weather Man, The Mud Fighters and Bill the Buyer and in they went. This marked the beginning of a whole new Wizzo Team.

Sam Jones and Sue Nicholls rejoined Team Wizzo with new stories and new ideas we were keen to put into print!

2011:

Soon we had Rose Edwards, Josh Champion, Max Champion, Stuart Bourne and Tom Southall all joining us.

The Wizzo was forming. And it was looking brilliant!

2011 was the year we made Issue 3. March 2011 to be precise. We finally released the issue in March 2012. Yes, that’s correct – it took a whole year to publish. A whole year.

This was never explained too clearly I felt. Many thought Issue 3 was drawn and edited in 2012 (which was annoying on our behalf as it made us look less able than we actually were. Many commenting on our art styles being weak in places and so on).

Originally, Issue 3 was going to be hand-printed. Photocopied and stapled. Exactly like Issue 1 and 2. Oh dear.

Printing cost a ridiculous amount as we were soon to realise. So we were stuck. With no way to print the comic, it seemed like all would be over. Then we discovered Ka-Blam…

Ka-Blam is a brilliant and fairly cheap printing company based in the USA – finding them was really that huge stepping stone between being a small, ugly comic to becoming a semi-professional comic! And the results after many months of editing and printing whilst doing our first few GCSEs was truly magnificent.

After returning back from a three week Christmas holiday visiting family in South Africa, after getting back to England, experiencing a bumpy taxi drive I finally arrived at the place I’d missed so much. My home. And when I opened the door I found a newly printed Wizzo Issue 3 waiting for me. It was the greatest Christmas present I received. And I had some brilliant presents that year.

Sadly, one thing let us down. The quality. A huge blunder on our behalf plus a big problem many found with the issue. Damn it.

2012:

We edited a few things in the issue after that and finally sent off the PDF to Ka-Blam – in a few weeks we received the ten copies we had ordered and selling took place immediately. And at first we were very unsuccessful. Then came The Wizzo’s Online Store. Thank goodness we made that…

When we got our first buyer that was when the whole project really kicked off. One impressive blog-post later by fantastic Dandy artist, Andy Fanton and we were off. All nine of ten issues were gone in a single day. A single day.

And the tenth copy of The Wizzo, Issue 3 got sold the next day.

We couldn’t believe it. Two days and we’d sold out. Two whole days. 

2012 has definitely been our most successful year with The Wizzo. Wayne Thompson offered to draw us a Blong guest strip and new, incredible artists and writers such as Jay Townsend, Chris Wilson, George Shiers, Alistair Stuart, Jon Esparza and Faye White all joined us.

2012 was the year The Wizzo went from a small, unprofessional comic to a fun, incredible comic, full of life, humour and young talent!

Issue 4 has been finished and is on its voyage home from America as we speak – and Issue 5 – well, we’re editing it currently!

The Wizzo has further heights to reach yet, new things to experience and has room for so much more improvement – and I know for absolute certainty, that I will be with my little comic until the very end. 

 

– Harry Rickard

 

WEBSITE:  http://wizzocomic.com/

TWITTER:  https://twitter.com/TheWizzoComic

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/TheWizzoComic

DEVIANTART: http://wizzo-comic.deviantart.com/