Roger the Dodger, #3583

Discuss or comment on anything relating to D.C.Thomson's second longest running comic. The home of Dennis the Menace. Has been running since 1938.

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swirlythingy
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Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by swirlythingy » 29 Apr 2011, 13:10

This week's strip mystifies me.

At first glance all signs point towards it being a reprint. He's wearing a tie, for one thing (one of the first things Appleby changed), and the lettering looks very much like Nixon's handwriting.

But some things muddy the issue. The colouring, for example, looks nothing like Nixon's work (I believe he hand-coloured his strips, whereas this looks computerised), but this would be easily explainable by the strip having originally run in black and white prior to 1993. So this sets an upper limit on the original printing date.

There's also no signature visible, but I have no idea when Nixon started signing his work - I presume when he took over in 1984 artists were still strictly anonymous.

The title looks like Appleby's work to me - nothing like the letters in the strip at all. It also goes outside the border and into the panel, looking, in short, as if it had been Photoshopped in along with the colour. Why, I can't imagine - surely the original would have had a perfectly good title?

The most intriguing aspect is the shape of the pages. This was most definitely drawn for A4 paper - the border has the same aspect ratio as the comic. I don't know when the comic switched to the wider size, but the earliest (non-reprinted) Beano I have is from 1990, and that was definitely wider. Comparing the two corresponding Roger strips side-by-side suggests there was definitely no way the wide one could have been convincingly cropped or otherwise narrowed. I suppose it's possible they just squashed it like they casually stretched all the artwork in the 2011 annuals, but why would they do that if they were planning to shrink it and add a chequered border anyway? The recent Appleby reprints could be discerned by the very fact that they hadn't been squashed, and hence the border was narrower at the sides than at the top and bottom.

It should also be noted that it's on one and a half pages. This dates it after 1986, prior to when the strip was a single page. It's possible the 'Dodge Diary' was originally a Dodge Clinic strip, which would help to date it further, but my aforementioned 1990 Beano, while also having a spare half page, just filled the space with an advert. How common was this practice? I'm pretty sure even some relatively recent strips were drawn to this length.

So, in summary - after 1986 (more than one page), before 1993 (monochrome), probably before 1990 (wrong paper size). Can someone tell me when the Beano was first printed on wide paper? Or, alternatively, when artists' signatures were allowed, whichever came first? The window of opportunity for a sustained run of reprints in the coming weeks is already quite narrow as it is. I do hope Roger's not going to pull a 'Billy Whizz'... or, worse, an 'Ivy the Terrible'... :(
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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by Lew Stringer » 29 Apr 2011, 13:27

The Beano and the Dandy now are the same proportions they had for decades before they went from newsprint to glossy paper in the late 1980s. (Apart from a period in the late 40s when they were even narrower due to rationing.) The Roger strip is a Bob Nixon reprint. It's simply a revised / recoloured reprint to make it look a little more modern.

The border has been added because appropriate borders are part of the new look.

I can't remember exactly when artists were allowed to sign their work but it must have been mid to late 1980s and IIRC it was a gradual thing. Even if Bob Nixon did sign those pages the signature may have been lost during the updating, or perhaps he didn't sign that one.
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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 29 Apr 2011, 16:39

As far as I remember, Lew, Bob usually signed his D C T work after returning to the fold around 1984/85.....like you say, he likely never signed every single piece.

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by DandyEd » 29 Apr 2011, 16:44

All the Bob Nixon artwork I have seen was submitted in line only, then coloured in-house.

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by big bad bri » 29 Apr 2011, 16:55

beano went to glossy bigger paper with issue 2402 30/7/88 & dandy went glossy with issue 2413 20/2/88.I still prefer the old syle newsprint of 70s & 80s & love the smell of em,i wish they would go back to that style

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 29 Apr 2011, 17:06

Bob did do some airbrushed colour work---and very effective it was too--for some IPC Summer Specials, and possibly some annual covers.

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by Classic Comics » 29 Apr 2011, 17:12

DandyEd wrote:All the Bob Nixon artwork I have seen was submitted in line only, then coloured in-house.
Same here. Bob's comic strips were all sent in black and white. I think he did one or two pieces for posters or promotion in colour but pretty much everything else was in black and white. Bob drew very quickly and the board he found best for that was a very glossy stock, which wouldn't have taken colour.

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by Jonny Whizz » 29 Apr 2011, 17:29

I think this Roger strip was in black and white when it first appeared, as Roger was surprisingly one of the last strips to go full colour, and that only happened when the Beano switched to full colour printing.

I don't know exactly when Bob Nixon started signing his DCT artwork (he definitely signed some of his IPC output prior to then), but I know that when he first did it he usually put just his initials, RN, but this changed at some point in the mid-1990s when he started signing his strips as R.T. Nixon instead.

The title is definitely one of Barrie Appleby's, the original title may have been added in-house (though I think Bob often did draw the titles himself). Also, although Roger lost his tie under Barrie Appleby, it didn't happen immediately - he'd been drawing Roger about two years before that change occurred. As an aside, I remember Barrie replacing Bob when I was little and Barrie's first few Roger strips did seem a little awkward, as though he wasn't sure whether to ghost Bob or do it in his own style. He settled down soon enough, but it did take a while for me to warm to his version as Bob was my favourite Beano artist (I didn't realise Bob had died).

I must admit I have always been a great fan of Bob Nixon's artwork, and I don't think it has aged badly at all, but I hope that Roger isn't going to be reprints from now on - I think the high number of Roger reprints lately has something to do with Barrie Appleby drawing Dennis on a regular basis now, but you'd think he'd be considered too popular a character to be demoted to reprints.

Your point about Ivy is pertinent though - I don't think she ever really recovered from going reprint, and she was dropped before Diego Jourdan was really able to establish himself (though he was doing a very good job with Ivy). In my opinion, if you have to have reprints it is better if you do it with 'fringe' strips (such as Calamity James, Little Plum or The Three Bears) or strips from other comics (like Fred's Bed) than major characters like Roger and, to a lesser extent, Billy and Ivy.
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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 29 Apr 2011, 18:53

I did see Bob's artwork once, and yes, it was drawn onto glossy thick bristol board---it was expensive stuff, almost like photographic paper. He bought his board supplies somewhere in Glasgow, I forget where. [You can claim all that stuff back off your taxes].

Bob's then-teenage son used to fill in his blacks, and if you're very astutely eagle-eyed, you can spot an area marked with an 'X' that remained unblacked in some of his late 80s BEANO strips that slipped past quality-control!

Barrie Appleby also drew on glossy paper but it was much thinner---in fact it looked like it was cut off a roll. There was a natty personal stamp on the back, I remember. I once had a try-out on Cuddles and Dimples, and got to take the b/w artwork of a Barrie double-spreader home for a couple of weeks: in those days, the word-balloons were still glued onto the page.

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by Digifiend » 29 Apr 2011, 19:58

The only thing mystifying to me was the absence of a signature. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was a RT Nixon reprint, recoloured (and I thought his 80s and 90s work was always signed). I assume that if this strip had a Dodge Clinic attached originally, that it was removed (and replaced with Dodge Diary) due to it being a reader submission.

Jonny's right about when Roger started in colour, the cover of the first full colour Beano in 1993 showed several characters getting paint gunned into colour - Ivy, Roger, Ball Boy and Billy Whizz. After Dennis and Gnasher, Minnie, and Bash Street, these are the comic's most famous ongoing strips.
Image

I agree with Jonny about the reprints too - surely if Barrie's too busy with Dennis, someone else could take over Roger? Although it does seem to be the sole reprint apart from the retro pages (at least it was this week).

Bri, no chance of them ever going back to newsprint.

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by Lew Stringer » 29 Apr 2011, 21:39

ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:I did see Bob's artwork once, and yes, it was drawn onto glossy thick bristol board---it was expensive stuff, almost like photographic paper. He bought his board supplies somewhere in Glasgow, I forget where. [You can claim all that stuff back off your taxes].
Just to clarify, you can't "claim it back". You can put it down as expenses and it's taken into account when calculating your year-end profits but you don't get the money back like, for example, a traveling salesman might give his boss a receipt for petrol and get the money refunded to him.

I just wanted to make that clear because I know some people do think the self-employed actually get a cheque from the taxman for our expenses. Not so.
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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 29 Apr 2011, 21:59

hmmm...if you don't claim for these things, you end up paying more tax, which is basically the same thing. But I respect your knowledge and experience on these matters, Lew .

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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by Jonny Whizz » 29 Apr 2011, 22:41

Jonny's right about when Roger started in colour, the cover of the first full colour Beano in 1993 showed several characters getting paint gunned into colour - Ivy, Roger, Ball Boy and Billy Whizz. After Dennis and Gnasher, Minnie, and Bash Street, these are the comic's most famous ongoing strips.
It does seem strange how those strips were still in black and white until the Beano went full colour, although when I read a couple of 1993 issues some years ago, I noticed that while Roger and Billy were in black and white, Ball Boy and Ivy were in colour. The other black and white strips I seem to remember seeing were Calamity James, Les Pretend, Number 13 and Baby Face Finlayson (who wouldn't have been a regular at that time).

Dennis, Minnie and the Bash Street Kids were all in colour (Dennis and Bash Street had been since the 1960s when they took the back page and centre pages respectively, with Dennis of course taking the cover spot in 1974, whereas I think Minnie had only been in colour since the 50th birthday issue in 1988), but so were strips such as the Yeti with Betty, which ultimately lasted only about a year. This seems bizarre when you consider that only Dennis had been in the comic longer than Roger at the time, as Lord Snooty had been dropped a couple of years before, and his popularity with the readership.
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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by Lew Stringer » 29 Apr 2011, 22:56

ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:hmmm...if you don't claim for these things, you end up paying more tax, which is basically the same thing. But I respect your knowledge and experience on these matters, Lew .
I was just clarifying the point Rab. When I claim for 5 x pads of Bristol Board at £20 each I don't get £100 "back", or £100 knocked off my tax bill. That's not quite how it works unfortunately. It's just added to the amount deducted from the profits before tax is calculated. Taxation is a complex business which is why we employ middle men such as accountants, and I'm still not sure how it works.
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Re: Roger the Dodger, #3583

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 30 Apr 2011, 09:02

I once had the Inland Revenue round my house, Lew. They said I could claim for Bristol Board [which I did] but I doubt if I got the full amount back. They actually brought up the subject of drawing 'card' as they called it, so they must have dealt with artists before.

I tried claiming for travel expenses between Edinburgh-Dundee to visit D C Thomson [which I done often] but they were having none of it!

The tax people who dealt with me were smug, petty 'individuals' but I tried to be civil with them. This was the only down-side of working self-employed as a cartoonist.


However, I get my own back on them today, with vicious attacks on the 'IRS' [US version, who are equally reviled] within some of my cartoon strips .

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