|Issue #3936!! An epic run if ever there was one!|
It's not the latest addition to my modern day comics and in fact it's one I never collected as a kid either, my brother being the 80's The Beano's regular reader in our household, though I did sneak a read now and again. Nor am I a fan of Star Wars, the latest spin-off film being the subject of a Roger the Dodger strip and cover, illustrated by the legendary Nigel Parkinson. So why has the latest Beano wound up here on the blog? Well, a fellow Twitter user by the name of Dave Bulmer, who I began following on the social media site after a lengthy conversation about 'Pull' exit doors in public loos (which also involved Jamie Smart and Lew Stringer, hence how I spotted it, in case you were wondering!) tweeted out how he was having difficulty in finding a copy of this week's comic, as it seemed to be sold out everywhere he tried.
I offered to send him a copy if I found one in my local Asda and even though he ended up getting one himself eventually, I curiously looked anyway and found they were down to their last copy. I had no intention of buying it, but Dave's quest and the fact this was the last one in the store were persuasive factors. The final straw came when someone on Twitter responded to Dave's investigation by stating that he couldn't find it "because maybe the modern day Beano isn't any good". I replied to this individual to ask how that could be the reason for it being sold out everywhere. He deleted his tweet.
So anyway, I decided to grab this elusive issue to give it a read over and see how the modern day Beano stacks up and if I liked it I'd write it up on the blog, as I'm always willing to support the UK comics industry and if even one of my readers starts to pick it up that'd be great! With the post here you can probably guess I thought it was very good and you'd be right, so let's have a closer look at some of the contents and who else could I start off with?
Written by Nigel Auchterlounie and drawn by longtime contributor Nigel Parkinson, it lives up to all those memories I had of the Dennis the Menace strips in my brother's comics and annuals. I've already covered the unnecessary hoopla around the dropping of the "Menace" part of the name and this particular story was great for someone like me to see what kind of character he is today. He's still wild and rambunctious and I have to say I did laugh out loud on a few occasions, in particular at his dad's expression above when he's asked to say something for his video, a look of bewilderment that's repeated by others throughout the strip. A chaotic ending, including a hilarious facial expression from Dennis himself when his friend forgets to hit record make this a priceless strip and should immediately expel any thoughts of the comic not being as entertaining in the modern world.
Beano has moved on, evolved and changed throughout its lifetime. It has to and it's been successful every step of the way. As well as Dennis, Roger, Gnasher, the Bash Street Kids, the Numskulls and Minnie the Minx, I was delightfully surprised to see an old favourite return, written and drawn by Leslie Stannage, who does a superb job of imitating the Tom Paterson strips of old with his classic character, Calamity James.
There's other old favourites too like Bananaman (written by Tommy Donbavand and drawn by Wayne Thompson) who I'm glad to see is just as chaotically useless as a superhero as he always was in both The Dandy and the cartoon series, and for the 80th anniversary year Oink!'s own Lew Stringer was asked to resurrect Big Eggo, the character who appeared on the front cover of the very first issue all those years ago. But I was equally excited to try out some of the new characters and I've included a couple of highlights below alongside the classics.
Written by Hugh Raine with art by Wayne Thompson JJ, a character from the Dennis series, is a super sporty ten-year-old girl and here I particularly liked her strip because it perfectly sums up what I hear every time someone starts talking about a certain TV show. Betty & the Yeti is a charming little strip, here presented as a half-page story of Yeti being told to not eat the new sofa, and his attempts to do exactly as he's told while also getting his own way. Written and very endearingly drawn by JJ's Hugh Raine these are just some of the highlights in this issue.
The comic is 36 pages of high-quality, glossy paper, 22 of these packed with 17 strips, many being multi-paged stories. The rest is filled with puzzles, games, competitions and loads of reader interactions including letters pages (made up of photographs this week) and two strips with readers as the stars. One lucky reader gets a full-page on the rear of the comic along with Billy Whizz which ends with them going so fast they travel in time and (brilliantly) the last panel is coloured like an old edition of the comic! The winner of #SOBeano every week gets to star in their own strip and alongside other stars at various points, they choose the star letter and get the chance to read the strips before the issue comes out. Both ideas are rather ingenious and, alongside the website chock full of content, really represent how Beano is a modern, forward-thinking comic.
My favourite strip out of the whole issue is one I've never heard of before, but then again this is aimed at a completely different audience to me and I haven't read the comic in decades!
Rubi is written by Andy Fanton (a pig pal!) and illustrated by Emily McGorman-Bruce, whose work I haven't seen before but it's just beautiful, especially her colouring style. Rubi (whose full name is Rubidium von Screwtop) is Beanotown's resident tech genius whose dad runs the town's secret research lab, but I get the feeling it doesn't always go to plan for her! The punchline here is a classic but I didn't see it coming and it was definitely the highlight of the whole comic for me. The fact Rubi is a wheelchair user is a great addition and the fact neither the comic nor the website feels the need to point this out shows again how modern the comic is for today's kids. Brilliant stuff.
Here's a bonus! A link to a Rubi strip on Beano.com with a lovely nod towards one of my favourite TV shows of all time, Stargate SG-1!
Yes, Beano is a children's comic but it always has been! Some adults seem to forget children's comics don't grow up along with them and you'll often find them in their dark corners of the internet, bitching and moaning that the kid's titles of today are no good because none appeal to them. Well, duh! Now, even though this is very much aimed at younger readers I still enjoyed it and I can't recommend it highly enough for your own piglets. If you don't have any piglets go buy some issues for the offspring of any friends! One word of warning, if you subscribe you may get a great saving on the cost but you won't get any free gifts as these are deemed "newsstand promotions only" in order to save on subscription costs. I thought that was a bit mean, especially as it was hidden away in very, very small print, but it may not be an issue for the young 'uns.
Go grab a Beano, kids today should definitely never be without one! Any comic that can take a hilarious swipe at comics artists ("Aren't all comic writers failed artists?" asks Dennis) in an advert for a spin-off book should keep all children, young and old entertained for 7 days, no problem.