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Beryl the Peril books 
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I've recently been reading and enjoying the Beryl books for 1971, 1973 and 1975; of course these came out every other year, alternating with the Dennis the Menace books, and are a particular treat from this period as they reprint Davey Law strips almost end to end.

The alternating Dennis books from this time are very good, too, but I think the Beryl strips are a bit better. The Dad character is more rounded than Dennis's; not just a stern authority figure, he can be quite sympathetic and vulnerable - he'll try to be a cool dad, to get on with Beryl, to play games with her, etc. and he's easily embarrassed or humiliated, his head hanging low. Beryl's also a more rounded character than Dennis.

The scripts are well crafted and structured: simple situations kids can relate to, but funny for adults, too, especially due to Davey Law's dynamic images - always an extra treat when animals are involved, especially a Davey Law horse.

The 1971-75 books seem to represent quite a peak for the Beryl strip. Has anyone with a lot of the original comics ever looked to see which years are actually being reprinted in these books - how far back they go (or the same with the Dennis ones), and if it seems to be every week's Topper strip being reprinted, or a carefully chosen selection of the best? Sometimes there'll be an incident involving a "beat group"-type band, and I'll wonder if it's a bit Beatles influenced- maybe 1964-65-ish?

I see from the gallery that the 1977 Beryl book also features other characters, including Dennis, The Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx amongst others, so was this more of an evenly balanced anthology of reprints from the weeklies - and was the multi-character mix a one-off experiment?


Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:18 pm
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The Funday Times (free comic with the Sunday Times) reprinted a lot of David Law Beryls - I have a few in my collection but mostly I cut out the Beryl page and threw away the rest of the comic. It was almost original Topper size as well.


Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:24 pm
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Yes, I remember reading the Beryl strips in the early issues of The Funday Times (must have been around 25 years ago) though I seem to recall them not being as strong as some of the strips in these books - reprints from a later period possibly?


Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:52 pm
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Probably because they then went on to reprint the ones by the artist Dallas? which I didn't like - he had a very weak style.


Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:36 pm
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Yes, I think that's the thing - I hadn't recalled the Funday Times Beryl strips I read as actually being Davey Law ones - mostly not, anyway; quite a different style - stiffer, less fluid. Those were probably mostly the ones I was reading.

The 1971 Beryl book is especially good - really perfect strips from a vintage Beryl era.


Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:41 pm
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If my memory serves me correct those books had a nice smell too?


Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:32 pm
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stevezodiac wrote:
If my memory serves me correct those books had a nice smell too?


Probably not by now though. :) I bought a pile of Buddy comics on eBay the other day. They stink of cigarettes unfortunately. Been spraying Fabreze near them but if I can't get rid of the stink they're going in the recycling bin.

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Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:48 pm
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I'm not sure if the Febreze mist will do much for them, Lew, but you could try the talcum powder method. Sprinkle scented talc over several pages, shut the issue, leave it for a while then brush off. It usually works with annuals, anyway, and leaves no mark.

I thought of a way to date the classic Beryl strips. I looked for some in a few issues of Classics From the Comics, which usually dates the strips. Davey Law's Beryl doesn't seem to be very well represented in the last few years of Classics - the editorial choice seems to have been for the 1974-75 period - but I found a few.

One of the strips in the 1973 Beryl book is from 1963, so it looks like the books went back ten years for their reprints, and that the great era of Beryl strips reprinted in the late Sixties to mid-Seventies books are from the Toppers of 1961-64. The great 1971 book strips are probably from circa 1962.

Another improvement over the Dennis strips, incidentally, is more creative endings - sometimes it's the slippering that Dennis almost always ended with, but they're generally much more varied and better.


Thu Dec 18, 2014 7:16 pm
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Hi Raven,

If you could get a hold of a copy of my Topper index 'Topper Tales' you'd find a complete list of Beryl the Peril Book contents complete with original publishing dates for all the strips they contained.
Failing that here is a brief rundown of what each Beryl book contained as regard reprints.
1959 - reprinted 1953/1954
1961 - also reprinted 1953/1954 inc reprint of strip No1.
1963 - 1954/1955
1965 - 1956/1957
1967 - 1957 to 1960
1969 - 1960/1961
1971 - 1962/1963
1973 - 1963/1964
1975 - 1965/1966
1977 - 1966/1967
1981 - 1967/1968
1987 - 1977 to 1980
1988 - 1978 to 1980


Fri Dec 19, 2014 11:12 am
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Thanks for that rundown, Kashgar, that was very good of you, and will be handy to refer to (makes me wonder how good the rest of Topper from '61-'64 was). As there were only around 69 strips per book they presumably chose their opinion of the best of each year.

Interesting to see that leap from from 1968 to 1977 reprints, and I wonder why the book was brought back after a 6 year gap.

Did you ever pick up the 1977 book and gauge which era the Bash Street Kids strips, for example, looked to be a reprint from?


Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:37 pm
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Put one of those fabric softener sheets that you put in the tumble drier in with the smoke smelling comics - I found it works.


Sun Dec 21, 2014 8:44 pm
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There's a clue to the age of one of the Beryl strips in the 1975 book, a story starting with Beryl leaving the cinema after watching 'the latest James Bondage movie': Coldfingers, and deciding to become a secret agent - Goldfinger being the Bond film of 1964. Though this strip's probably from '66 and they'd had Thunderball, too, by then - and I'm surprised the Thomson staff didn't update the film poster to 'The Man with the Golden Gnu' or the like.


Mon Dec 22, 2014 9:28 am
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Or From Rush Hour With Love. Pop culture references are no guide as Dennis's group were still called Dennis and the Dinmakers into the 1990s based on the name Gerry and the Pacemakers from the early sixties beat boom.


Mon Dec 22, 2014 5:48 pm
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I think they're still called the Dinmakers - it has the advantage of being self-explanatory, even though the Pacemakers had broken up by the time that the Dinmakers were introduced in the 1970s.


Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:49 am
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Was it specifically a parody of Gerry and the Pacemakers if it started in the Seventies, as it does work as a name in its own right?

Though the Dennis book 1966 has him performing in a band (Dennis on drums) on the front cover. Is this based on a story inside, and, if so, did that band have a name?


Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:02 am
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