For some reason I rarely seem to cover any comics from the late 90's, so I thought it would be nice to look at this Beano comic from 1996, issue #2790. Although not the most popular time in the comic’s life, I enjoyed this period (and the 90's Dandy's too), mostly for the work of Tom Paterson.
Since the 70's Dennis the Menace had been the cover star, and David Sutherland drew Dennis at this period, before handing over to David Parkins two years later.
The worst strip for me is Vic Volcano, usually illustrated by Robert Nixon, but this one is by Trevor Metcalfe. Whereas Bob's (and Trevor's) art is great, I don't like the storylines for Vic Volcano, and in general don't like most comic strips about short-tempered kids (Moana Lisa from Shiver and Shake is another one). At least with this episode we get to see Trevor's version of some other Beano characters, which is nice to see.
Billy Whizz is a fantastic character, and is illustrated wonderfully by Vic Neill. The storyline is a bit better with this strip, although it did remind me of a Biffo the Bear episode from almost 30 years earlier!
Onto the highlight of the comic, Calamity James illustrated by Tom Paterson! The artwork is brilliant and the script is funny! What more could you ask for! Incidentally, if you’re wondering why the bird in panel four is carrying a bucket of coal, that's because it's a Mynah (miner) bird! Enjoy!
The other highlight is The Bash Street Kids, illustrated by David Sutherland! This is a great episode, lots of action going giving us plenty of bonus gags! I've noticed that David always seems to put mice into his strips, and I managed to spot two in this one!
Jim Petrie was still drawing Minnie the Minx back in 1996, and was doing a wonderful job of it too! Here's a challenge for you, whilst reading it, how many times can you spot the cat?
Finally, we take a look at Sid Burgon's Biffo, who is of course Biffo the Bear. Although he wasn't the most popular character back then, many people have come to appreciate Sid's silent version of the previous cover star, and I can see why. The silent movements certainly add humour to the strip, and it works well with Sid's simple style.
All in all, it's a fantastic comic with some top class artists working in its pages! But would I say it's better than the current Beano? Nope!
Currently in The Beano we have reprints of Calamity James (reprints or not, he'll always be funny), mini strips of classic and new characters from the hands of Alexander Matthews, Lew Stringer and Nigel Auchterlounie. We have puzzle pages, Will Dawbarn's Billy Whizz and Nigel Parkinson's Dennis the Menace, plus a whole host more!
The Beano is the best it's been in years!