Saturday, November 2, 2013

Firworks Fun With The Beano (1958) and The Dandy (1959)

It's time for my favourite celebrations of the year - especially when it comes to comics - Guy Fawkes Night! Fireworks means bright front covers and exciting stories, and this time we're heading back to the late 1950's to take a look at copies of The Beano and The Dandy. We'll go oldest first and start with The Beano.

This issue was dated November 1st 1958 so was a bit early for the fireworks celebrations (especially considering the comic actually went on sale on the 25th October. As can be seen above, Dudley Watkins illustrated the front cover that featured Biffo the Bear. This particular episode is a favourite Biffo strip of mine.

Over the page and it's Leo Baxendale who kicks off the fireworks fun inside with his Little Plum strip. I've shown this strip before but it's good stuff so I'll happily show it again (you may notice that the final panel is an exact copy of part of the first one)!

Sadly, neither Minnie the Minx or The Bash Street Kids get up to any fun with fireworks, nor does Dennis the Menace for that matter. Roger The Dodger does however, except that Roger could hardly have called it "fun" himself, but it would have been a great spectacle for any passerby who had at some point been at the receiving end of one of his dodges! Ken Reid is the artist here.

Moving on to The Dandy, which went on sale a little over a year later with a cover date of November 7th 1959. Unlike in The Beano we just looked at where there were no more than three fireworks themed strips this issue of The Dandy had no less than eight, and it all kick starts on the cover with Korky the Cat, as illustrated by James Crighton.

Moving on inside and the first strip we come across is Robinson And His Dog Crusoe, a clear spoof on the classic novel Robinson Crusoe. George Martin did a fine job with the art here; the final panel is (quite literally) cracking!

And next up is Dudley Watkins' Desperate Dan, who won't settle for a small fireworks display but has to have a JUMBO one! You'll get that joke when you read the strip...

Next up is Charlie the Chimp, a strip drawn in the more realistic  "adventure" style and is about, obviously, a chimp called Charlie. George Ramsbottom did a fine job illustrating it; I love that final panel - it has lots of depth and feeling!

Also drawn in an "adventure" style was Cat's-Eye Kelly, about a boy with eyes like a cat, which enabled him to see incredibly clearly in the dark. I'm unsure of this artist on this strip, it was either Toby Baines or Jack Glass. This episode explores the origins of Guy Fawkes Night, and explains how it really happened!

The next page had not one but two firework strips. At the top is Big Bang Benny, a smashing strip illustrated by the great Ken Reid, and is followed by Mr. Mutt, illustrated by George Martin.

And finally, Smasher just has to get in on the fireworks fun, and does so in blue and yellow on the back page and even uses the rockets to evade a whacking! Art by Hugh Morren.

I've started the fireworks celebrations today as (here in New Zealand at least) today is the first day you can legally buy fireworks, as they can only be sold from November 2nd - 5th, so that is when my celebrations here will take place!


Kid said...

Look at that Little Plum page by Baxendale. More work in the first and last panels than some current artists put into several pages. And even without reading it, it just looks so darn funny.

Peter Gray said...

Loads to read...The Dandy's Desperate dan looks to read...