Saturday, 30 August 2008
British Comics part three (The Dandy and Beano)
Now where would UK Comics be without those two standard bearers of the British comic universe?
I am talking of course of The Dandy (1937) and The Beano (1938).
Without either of course there would be no Viz.
But lets go back a bit, back to 1937, three years prior to the Golden Age of comics, back to the time when Arthur Barnes, the Editor who brought into being, on 4th December 1937, The Dandy Comic, as it was originally called, and ushered in a new age for British Comics.
Yep, Arthur was the man responsible for giving us the comic that broke the British comic rule book by dropping the broadsheet look in favour of the tabloid and of course kids loved its easy to hold and easy to read style. Another innovation was the introduction of thought and speech balloons which up until then hadn't existed in British comics.It was the introduction of some of the greatest ever comic book characters that really fired the publics imagination. Korky The Cat, Desperate Dan being two that instantly jump to mind. As British as the Thames the appeal, unlike American superhero comics, was limited to the UK only and did not have the universal appeal of their American counterparts. But in one area, however, they have proved to be the equal of any comic any where in the world. Longevity. The Dandy is still going to this day and there are no signs of it ever stopping.
The humour of The Dandy along with The Beano is very much of another age and very typically, almost stereotypically, British. Nothing is taken very seriously and there are no, to speak of, adventure strips. Everything is very much of a 'custard pie', or in the case of Desperate Dan, Cow Pie, in the face mode.
The Dandy is now very much a tradition and is the older sibling to the other very successful 'tradition', The Beano.
The Beano followed hot foot on the success of The Dandy, and was, unashamedly, based upon the earlier forerunner. The Beano arrived with us in July 1938 and like its big brother was a humorous vehicle for another bunch of incredible characters.
Reg Carter gave us Big Eggo. Dudley Watkins created Biffo the Bear both of whom remained as two of the most popular characters and then, in the early fifties came the character who is probably The Beano's most successful and popular character The Worlds Wildest Boy Dennis the Menace who was the brain child, literally, of David Law.
A whole host of others followed. Lord Snooty, Roger The Dodger, Minnie the Minx and, my personal favourite, The Bash Street Kids.
As I have said, both of these enormously successful and popular comics, are the stuff of Empire and the glory days of Great Britain but with out them we wouldn't have that very strong strain of modern satirical British comics.
The amazing thing is that their popularity doesn't seem to be waning at all but rather remains pretty constant despite all the social changes that we Brits have gone through. And of course their influence has been enormous and can still be felt today.
all words and art are copyright © of C.J. Duffy.