MY GAG strip ‘Al Kazam’, all about the world’s worst magician, is currently running in The Dandy every week for a few weeks.
Here now, however, are a couple of his strips you won’t see, as they mysteriously disappeared from the editor’s desk. Well, okay, they were rejected. But here they are now, magically re-appearing before your very eyes! ALAKAZAM!
ONE OF the best things about writing and drawing for The Dandy is that you suddenly have access to 75 years worth of the comic’s history, like a great big toybox to play in, full to the brim with your favourite toys.
Having grown up reading The Dandy as a nipper, nothing delights me more than being able to squeeze in a classic character I remember fondly from my youth into the pages I draw for the comic today.
My first such experience of bringing old favourites out of retirement was with my take on Harry and his Hippo (above), a bonkers strip I’d loved as a kid and one which I was thrilled to bring back for two short runs in the present day. As I worked on their revival, I decided that Harry and his Hippo probably still hung out with some other classic characters, and so began a semi-regular habit of cramming in classic cameos into my strips wherever I could. Here, then, is a selection of the characters from the past I’ve snuck back into the comic…
Bully Beef and Chips
I had Bully Beef pop up a few times during Harry and his Hippo’s run, as I needed a bully and was too lazy to think of my own. Plus, Bully Beef is SUCH an iconic bully, how could I NOT use him?
Bananaman, Korky the Cat, Bully Beef and Chips (again!)
When Harry and his Hippo hit Dandytown Pool, I figured that a few other Dandy characters would be there too. So I put in a few of my favourites, such as the ones above and also these:
Beryl the Peril, Black Bob
I especially enjoyed cartoon-erizing (yes, that’s a real word) Back Bob, the Dandy Wonder Dog!
The Smasher, Dinah Mo, Brain Dwayne
The last of the classic cameos in Harry and his Hippo, as Harry’s classmates feature some familiar faces! And some familiar faeces.
Freddy the Fearless Fly, Hippo, Black Bob
When I got asked to draw some George vs Dragon for last year’s Dandy annual, I knew I wanted to do something a bit different, so drew a strip inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. If you look at the borders in this strip, you’ll find a handful of characters from the past (not reaching back quite as far as 1066, mind).
Winker Watson (deceased)
To be brutally honest, I never much cared for that little Winker, even as a kid, so I got my revenge on Watson by killing him off in this scene from Boo! It’s canon now, he’s officially dead. FACT.
Desperate Dan (sort of)
AS our hero Boo drifts through a creepy old house, we see a portrait featuring one of Dan’s ancestors. This is also now canon.
Readers wondering whatever became of the marvellous metal boy found out the answer in this Springwatch mini-strip I did. Poor Brassneck had been dumped in a scrapyard. Charley probably got bored of him and replaced him with an iPhone, I expect.
Desperate Dan (for sure)
Dan desperately snuck into this crowd scene in one of my George vs Dragon stories. The crazy cowboy.
Beryl the Peril
Not so much a cameo as right in your face, here’s the perilous one in a mini-strip I drew for The Dandy’s Facebook page. Beryl has happily now returned to the weekly, under the pen of brilliant Steve Bright.
The Jocks and the Geordies, Mr. Meecher, Greedy Pigg, Bully Beef and Chips, Spotted Dick, Harry and his Hippo, Beryl the Peril, Korky the Cat
When Bad Grandad and Timmy went to Dandytown Pool, I once again made sure that some other classic characters were also there, including Harry and his Hippo, returning to the pool after their last disastrous visit. In related news, Bully Beef and Chips are now enjoying a return to the weekly comic, thanks to wondrous Wayne Thompson.
Smasher pops up again, this time in a Bad Grandad strip. He also seems to be restraining from any smashing, so maybe he’s a reformed character. Good for him!
There’s more classic cameos to come, because I never tire of popping some of these old faces into my strips. With 75 years of strips to choose from, I’m sure I won’t run out any time soon!
If YOU have a request for a character to sneak into a strip, let me know in the comments below, or tell me on Twitter. I’m @FantonEsquire. Let’s see who else we can revive as The Dandy heads towards its 75th birthday! YAAAAY!