Friday, October 26, 2007
Beano gets tweaked, plus this week's round-up
Britain's most famous comic The Beano has unveiled a new look this week, with issue No.3404. Not as radical as The Dandy recently transforming into Dandy Xtreme but still very interesting for comic historians and readers.
First off, the cover gets an attractive new design, with a Photoshop-embossed logo, new strapline style, and, as an incentive for collectors, a small icon encouraging "Boost Your Comic Collection". Inside on page two there's arguably the most radical move D.C. Thomson have made in years; artists are credited on the contents page! This from a company that for years were notorious for not allowing their creators any credit. Apart from Dudley D. Watkins and Alan Moreley no Beano artists were allowed to even sign their work until just over a decade ago, now the comic is boasting about their talent. (Similarly, this year's hardback Dandy/Beano collection also makes a big deal of their artists past and present. This is a very welcome improvement.)
Inside the comic, two new stories debut this week. Tales of Johnny Bean from Happy Bunny Green drawn by the talented Laura Howell is a storybook-type strip with a dark edge. A perfect spoof of such innocent stories that Beano's young readers will be familiar with. The other new strip is London B4 12 drawn by Barrie Appleby, who has reinvented his style into a trendier more exaggerated approach which works really well for this strip about kids just hanging out.
The rest of the comic features the regular favourites such as Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids, and, curiously, a Dennis the Menace story that ends on an emotional cliffhanger. With tv soaps so popular with today's kids I've long thought that the readers would be more accessible to more characterization in children's comics. (I'm sure that's one reason Titan's Simpsons comic is so popular.) Hopefully the new-look Beano may test the waters in this direction.
One downside of the Beano facelift is a significant price hike from 85p to 99p. (Although it had already been tested at 99p in certain parts of the country such as Blackpool throughout the summer.) However, it still remains the UK's cheapest comic. The photogravure printing gives it some class too, (comic sniffers will note that The Beano smells like TV Century 21 did in the sixties) although the paper stock is to change soon to a slightly heavier and less glossy style. All in all, interesting times for the 69 year old weekly.
This week's round up:
A few other items of note are in the shops now. 2000 AD Prog 1560 is a good place for new readers to jump aboard with three new stories beginning. (Well, two, - Nikolai Dante, by Robbie Morrison and John Burns, and Sinister Dexter, with a complete Future Shock being the third.) Plus continuing action from Judge Dredd and The Button Man. £1.90
Classics from the Comics No. 139 has 64 pages of reprints from the DC Thomson archive, including the final episodes of The Black Sapper from 1960 and a complete Send for Kelly story from 1966. Plus two more chapters of The Great Flood of London from 1961 and lots more. £2.00
Spectacular Spider-Man No.159 features more brand-new Spidey action created specially for the UK. Another 11 page chapter of Spider-Man Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Ferg Hadley and Andie Tong has Spider-Man meet the Valkyrie to battle the Radioactive Man. £1.99
Dandy Xtreme No.3432 is the special Halloween issue and its 16 page pull-out Dandy Comix No.7 features extra long stories for Jak & Todd, drawn by Wayne Thomson, Cuddles and Dimples by Nigel Parkinson, and Ollie Fliptrick by Karl Dixon. There's also another classic Desperate Dan strip by Dudley Watkins from the 1940s. £1.99