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Topper Annual 1995- was it ever in development? 
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It's known that The Beezer annual 2003 was not intended to be the final Beezer annual; a 2004 annual was in development and had several strips and scripts produced, some of which made their way to other publications.

I've been wondering for some time now- is it possible that the Topper Annual closed in a similar fashion?

The reason behind the closure of the Topper Annual would doubtless have occurred on account of the closure of the Beezer and Topper. It wouldn't be very beneficial having two sets of annuals based around a ceased publication, so DCT decided that The Beezer, being the better known of the two, would continue to have an annual while the Topper would not.

DC Thomson annuals tended to have very long lead times (they are considerably shorter nowadays), so a 1995 annual, released August/September 1994, would have probably been finished by around July/August 1993. Some artwork is completed before the general lead time (e.g. John Geering's Bananaman in the 2002 Dandy Annual, Vic Neill's Tim Traveller in the 2002 Beano Annual) and some is completed after the general lead time (e.g. Colonel Blink in the 1959 Beezer Annual, Robbie Rebel in the 2003 Beano Annual) but for the most part, until recently, DCT annuals were usually more or less complete by late July/early August the year prior to publication.

The Beezer and Topper ended in late August 1993. (the last issue was dated the 21st August). I'm not sure how far the closure was planned in advance, but to my knowledge the comic continued to consist primarily of new material and little to no reprints up until the end, indicating it probably wasn't planned as far ahead as The Dandy's print cancellation.

The fact that the comic folded towards the end of August in 1993, coupled with the general lead times of DC Thomson annuals in the 1990s, indicates that work may have begun on a 1995 Topper annual. I imagine it was cancelled soon after the decision was made that the Beezer and Topper was to fold, and my guess is that it probably wasn't near completion when cancelled, assuming it ever did exist.

Now, I don't have many issues of the Beezer and Topper, and I am also missing the Beezer annuals 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2002, so this list is by no means definitive (if anyone does have one or more of those annuals, it would be interesting to hear if they have any Topper characters as well), but, assuming the 1995 Topper Annual was ever in development, here is a selection of strips that did see publication that I think may have initially been intended for the cancelled Topper annual.

POSSIBLE REUSED STRIPS

Tricky Dicky (Beezer Annual 1996)

This is the only Topper character to have a strip in this particular Beezer book (Des Troy makes a brief cameo, however.) Dicky's dad lacks his moustache in this strip. (He had already lost his glasses at some point prior to the Beezer and Topper's merge). For those who have issues of the B&T from 1993, does Dicky's dad lack a moustache there as well?

One-off adventure strips (Various Dandy Annuals)

In the mid 1990's, the Dandy annuals would often feature a one-off, adventure strip. (an example would be "The Return of Baron Blood" from the 1996 annual). These sort of strips originally appeared in the Topper annuals. An example I can think of is one where Martians try to hunt down and destroy humans for taking over their home planet. It's possible that one of these sorts of strips originated in the cancelled Topper annual, and instead was moved to the Dandy annual.

Cat Tips (Dandy Annual 2001)

The 2001 Dandy annual is perhaps the oddest DCT annual in existence, the majority of strips being one off strips, prose and poems that feel like they belong in a post-1995 Beezer annual. Among these one-off strips is "Cat Tips", by David Mostyn. Apparently, one of the last strips to be introduced in the Beezer and Topper was "A Cat's Guide", also by Dave Mostyn. Apparently, a strip of the same premise as Cat Tips, again by David Mostyn, appeared in the Dandy in 2003, but now it was just called "Cats". This could be a reprint of "A Cat's Guide", or something new entirely.

Foxy (Dandy Annual 2001)

I know Foxy was in the Dandy for a short while during the second half of the 1990s, though it would seem that these are reprints from Evi De Bono's stint at drawing Foxy during the late 80's-early 90s in the Topper and then the Beezer and Topper. It's possible that this was intended for the 1995 Topper annual and was recoloured for use in the Dandy annual, but there's nothing to suggest that it wasn't newly drawn for the Dandy annual.

One problem is that Foxy's last strip in The Beezer and Topper was apparently in February 1993, presumably before the lead time.

Des Troy (Beezer Annual 2003)

Now, I'm certain that Mickey the Monkey, Big Uggy and Desert Island Dick's strips were all newly-produced for this annual. The reason is that these three are all 1950s/1960s strips that would have had a fairly high nostalgia value for parents at the time. Des Troy is different. He started when the Beezer and Topper launched in 1990. Even nowadays the Dandy Annual, which mostly comprises classic characters from the 20th century, rarely delves into 1990s territory. So it seems odd to resurrect an early 1990s character in an annual from the early 2000s, especially when most of the other resurrected Topper characters in the annual were from the fifties and sixties (aside from Fred's bed, which we'll come to later) so it's possible that Des' story was an previously unused strip intended for a Topper annual. Interestingly, it looks like it may have been cut down from a longer story as it's only one page long with a couple of panels, and Des doesn't do an awful lot.

POSSIBLE REUSED SCRIPTS

I seem to remember that a Little Mo script, intended for the 2004 Beezer annual, was later used on a Bea strip from around 2005-ish involving orange peel. This story involved Cruncher Kerr, a Roger the Dodger character, playing the role that was presumably intended for Mugsy. This backs up the possibility that, if a Topper annual 1995 was made, some scripts intended for it may have made their way to other publications with new artwork.

(I've had to remove this section, as I've discovered that the original Even Steven was completely different from the Beano's version)

Fred's Bed (Beezer Annual 2003)

I'm confident that this was newly drawn, as Nigel's work had developed a fair bit between the early 1990s and the early 2000s when the Beezer Annual 2003 was in development. At the time, Fred had not been resurrected in The Beano, and so was really no less obscure than Des Troy who had started at the same time as him. I'm inclined to think that the script may have been written for the Topper Annual 1995, but never drawn (that, or the artwork was never finished). (NP, if you know anything about the origins of the script, I'd be very interested to know)

I'm not saying that these strips/scripts were all intended for an unused annual, but on the offchance that the Topper Annual 95 was in development, I imagine that at least one strip or script on here was recycled from it.

If anyone has any information to add, or anything to dispute or debunk the possibility of a 1995 Topper annual ever being in development (Two annuals being cancelled mid-development within the space of ten years would mean a lot of potentially wasted artwork and scripts, etc.) then let me know.

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Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:15 pm
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Well done going into such detail...it looks like you are right!

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Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:25 am
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Another reason for Beezer keeping it's annual and Topper not: Beryl the Peril. She moved to the Dandy, and therefore would not be available for the Topper annuals any longer as she'd be in the Dandy ones instead (which is also the reason why Bananaman only appears on the end papers in the 2015 Dandy Annual, because he moved to the Beano). Topper lost it's biggest draw. The Dandy avoided this problem because Desperate Dan didn't move to the Beano. It wouldn't surprise me if this is why he hasn't done so. The Numskulls did appear in Beezer and Beano annuals simultaneously, but this was done by having the Beezer version revert to living inside "Our Man" instead of "Our Boy".

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Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:32 pm
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She could have been in both annuals!

I never commented on Old Freddy's post at the time but I read it and nodded. His argument convinced me.


Thu Jan 22, 2015 6:32 pm
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I wonder why once The Beezer and Topper folded and with it The Topper Book, why didn't DCT amalgamated the two titles into one annual?

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