1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

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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Jonny Whizz
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1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Jonny Whizz » 04 Jun 2011, 11:42

I think I've mentioned this before, but I thought I'd start a new thread on it because I personally think the Beano changed a lot over the five year period from 1998 to 2003, although few of these changes seem to be discussed often. It's of personal interest to me because I started reading the Beano during this time, in 2002.

For example, David Sutherland was still drawing Dennis in 1998 but then stopped after the 60th birthday celebrations, handing over to David Parkins whose first strips introduced the Bea story arc. This is notable not only because of the artist change, but because a new character was introduced into the family of such a famous and long-running strip.

There were a lot of artist changes in this time as well, some of them enforced as John Geering, Vic Neill and Bob Nixon died, and Jim Petrie and John Dallas retired. Several major strips changed artist as a result, including Roger, Minnie, Ivy, Billy Whizz (twice), The Numskulls and Ball Boy. On top of this, NP, Mike Pearse, Dave Eastbury and Hunt Emerson all started drawing for the Beano in this time.

I find this time interesting because the Beano was changing quite significantly, although on the surface the comic remained much the same (though the page count did increase to 32 in 1998). Feel free to discuss this era here, I might post some more of my observations on this time later.
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 04 Jun 2011, 12:59

The Beano has definately changed from the version I grew up with, Jonny: inevitable after such a long time. Even the loss of two artists: Dudley Watkins and Davey Law in 1969 and 1970 'watered down' the potency of the comic for me, at a time when there were next to no reprints from these two great contributors. At the tender age of 9, I was yearning for the 'good old days' of the comic: certain elements were lacking, despite the undoubted talents of Dave Sutherland!!

The loss of John Geering and Bob Nixon etc later on almost completely severed the original ties I remember with BEANO, although it made room for the 'new guard'.

Good news for post-modern BEANO fans, who are more receptive to updated output than I am.

It's still a very good comic, and long may it continue.

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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by swirlythingy » 04 Jun 2011, 15:38

I've talked about this very period before, so I won't repeat myself here.

Suffice to say that change is good, and stagnation is bad, and that the Beano of 2011 is stagnant.
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by RamblingSid » 04 Jun 2011, 16:44

swirlythingy wrote:I've talked about this very period before, so I won't repeat myself here.

Suffice to say that change is good, and stagnation is bad, and that the Beano of 2011 is stagnant.
In your opinion, of course. My children disagree.

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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Digifiend » 04 Jun 2011, 17:40

Most of the current comic strip content is fine. The problem is that as stories have gone (Ivy for example) they've not been replaced, with filler content being used instead. The Beano does need some new comic strip material to supplement what it currently has. Perhaps the Beano is suffering because of the Dandy, which is currently the best it's been in years.

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Jonny Whizz
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Jonny Whizz » 04 Jun 2011, 19:44

Having read your comments on the other forum, swirly, I agree with some of your points. However, I think another negative was the choice of Graeme Hall as Billy Whizz's new artist in 2000, which was probably a mistake as, according to Wikipedia, Billy's popularity fell so low that the editors seriously considered dropping him. Wayne Thompson proved better - in my opinion his 2003 Billy strips were classics as they were creative and harked back to Mal Judge's style, though I felt the scripts towards the end of his spell were rather poor, and Wayne's workload increased at the same time. I'm also interested to know what you mean by Calamity James withering and dying as a strip.

Also, I agree with Digifiend that Ivy is a sad loss from the comic and I think Diego was doing a very good job on her before she was dropped. It would have been interesting to see how the strip would have developed with him as artist. Although I am a big fan of Bob Nixon's work, I think the time was right for someone to have a new take on Ivy and Diego was providing that.
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by swirlythingy » 04 Jun 2011, 20:40

Warning: here be opinions! :soapbox:
Jonny Whizz wrote:Having read your comments on the other forum, swirly, I agree with some of your points. However, I think another negative was the choice of Graeme Hall as Billy Whizz's new artist in 2000, which was probably a mistake as, according to Wikipedia, Billy's popularity fell so low that the editors seriously considered dropping him. Wayne Thompson proved better - in my opinion his 2003 Billy strips were classics as they were creative and harked back to Mal Judge's style, though I felt the scripts towards the end of his spell were rather poor, and Wayne's workload increased at the same time.
As regards Billy Whizz: I never took a particular interest in him as a character, although I've certainly never understood the amount of vitriol directed towards Hall's work - particularly when you consider some of the other stuff the Beano's printed!

I don't remember Thompson's version ever having evolved significantly (or ever having borne even a passing resemblance to Judge's work), and I always felt it seemed just as lazy in style, if not more so, than the previous artist's - the major plus was that Thompson's background-lite style of the time successfully conveyed Billy's speed far more effectively than Hall's had. (As we've seen with recent developments at the Dandy, Thompson is a far more versatile and talented artist than his own work suggested in ~2003-5, but I didn't know that and just thought he couldn't draw. My favourite Thompson strip is still his first for the Dandy, Auntie Clockwise.)

As for the scripts... don't forget that nobody ever expected Billy to provide enough ideas to last into 1965 in the first place! Most of the problems which afflicted the strip's scripts just before it slid into reprints were affecting the Beano as a whole at the time - nothing strictly wrong with the creativity, it was just lacklustre in the details of execution. Nick Brennan's revival is much more strongly written, but then scripts as a whole have picked up over the last year or so.
Jonny Whizz wrote:I'm also interested to know what you mean by Calamity James withering and dying as a strip.
Well, he was cancelled in 2006! Is that enough? :lol:

IIRC, 2003 was the last year in which he appeared in most issues - after that, Tom Paterson's workload increased and he grew steadily more erratic up until Alan Digby pronounced the end. I think Steve Bright ghosted a few in 2004, but although he was very good at it, James without Patseron wasn't James.
Jonny Whizz wrote:Also, I agree with Digifiend that Ivy is a sad loss from the comic and I think Diego was doing a very good job on her before she was dropped. It would have been interesting to see how the strip would have developed with him as artist. Although I am a big fan of Bob Nixon's work, I think the time was right for someone to have a new take on Ivy and Diego was providing that.
I agree - Diego wasn't given any chance to settle in, but, sadly, much as with Calamity James, Ivy's cancellation was ideological rather than commercial and nothing could have saved her.

Incidentally, regarding recent stagnation... next week is the first anniversary of Comic Idol 2010, AKA the last time new characters appeared in the Beano. Do you know what replaced Ivy's single page when she was cancelled? A third page of Dennis and Gnasher. Nothing new commissioned at all. That's no way to treat Britain's best-loved comic.

The comic strips published in the Beano at present are of a generally high standard, both in writing and art. But there aren't enough of them!
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Peter Gray
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Peter Gray » 04 Jun 2011, 20:47

I think Jim Petrie retiring is a big deal to me when The Beano changed in 2001..

but you can't stop old age..

I love Jim's minnie the best...full of energy and fun..
Minnie was at her best as a two pager starting in the early 70's to 2001..

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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Jonny Whizz » 04 Jun 2011, 21:18

I think, in fairness to Graeme Hall, his work wasn't short of detail - I would said his work was more detailed than Thompson's actually. The main problem with Graeme's Billy was that he had to take on Vic Neill's style, which didn't seem to fit his natural style. However, his artwork wasn't as bad as is sometimes made out, and I certainly hold nothing against him.

Personally, when I first saw Wayne's version of Billy, I was struck by how similar it looked to Mal Judge's. Vic Neill changed Billy's physical appearance quite a lot, most notably changing his hairstyle but also the shape of his face and separating his eyes - all these changes were reversed by Wayne. On top of this, the variety of devices used to show Billy's whizzing were increased, as they were in Judge's time, whereas the 1990s artists (Parkins, Metcalfe and Neill) tended to stick to specific methods -for example, Neill hardly ever using the spinning legs device, but it was regularly used by Metcalfe and reasonably often by Parkins.
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Lew Stringer » 04 Jun 2011, 23:25

swirlythingy wrote: Incidentally, regarding recent stagnation... next week is the first anniversary of Comic Idol 2010, AKA the last time new characters appeared in the Beano. Do you know what replaced Ivy's single page when she was cancelled? A third page of Dennis and Gnasher. Nothing new commissioned at all. That's no way to treat Britain's best-loved comic.
You're looking at the comic through the confines of your own experience as a reader. I'm sure over the past 73 years there were longer periods where no new characters appeared.
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Digifiend » 05 Jun 2011, 00:49

1980-1984 is the longest such period.

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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Jonny Whizz » 05 Jun 2011, 08:14

I might be wrong, but I thought Smudge started in 1981? Even so, three years is quite a long time with no new strips being introduced.

However, the Beano was a very settled comic in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From about 1976/77 through to Euan Kerr becoming editor in 1984, very little changed. Harry Crammond did introduce the short lived Pepper the Pony, and gave Rasher his own strip before he retired, but after Euan became editor Ivy the Terrible and Calamity James both started, the former bringing Bob Nixon back to the comic for the first time since 1973, and the other being Tom Paterson's first DCT strip.
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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Digifiend » 05 Jun 2011, 09:08

Smudge started in April 1980.

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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by AndyB » 05 Jun 2011, 15:30

Ivy's end is probably a great deal to do with her creator leaving... ;)

The very fact that there is so much filler in the Beano at the moment implies something, and that something is that budgets are very tight. There is no other way that a bunch of creatives would voluntarily fill a comic with so much filler when they could be writing new strips.

I would like my Beano to be filled with new strips, just as the Dandy is, and I'm actually very disappointed it can't be that way at this time... but I have to deal with it the way that things are.

Mind you, I need to point out your inattention to the back cover of the Beano - Gnasher's Bite is brand new. You might (with some justification) point out that it is a fourth page of the two main characters, rather than a new or returning character, but nevertheless it is original material, and, in my opinion, beats the occasional 60 second Dennis hollow.

I quite liked Graeme Hall's Billy (rebel Andy!), but Wayne's version did take me right back to Mal Judge's version, because it bore a greater resemblance to the original, and the whole page was in the spirit of Mal's work in the early 1980s, a period when I feel he was at his very best. Wayne's version was very pleasing to me, and I was sorry when his version stopped being printed.

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Re: 1998-2003 : A transition period for the Beano?

Post by Jon » 05 Jun 2011, 16:06

1998 saw the introduction of the new style of front cover - the large, single image rather than having almost half the Dennis strip on the cover. I must say I much prefer the post-1998 cover format - it allows artists to do very bold and striking front covers, some of which are very memorable.

Bob Nixon's death was in my opinion one of the Beano's greatest losses - he practically drew half the comic in the 90s and I really can't get enough of his work. I think he's got the "cartoon" style of drawing down to a tee. Absolutely perfect.

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