IT’S ALL been a bit quiet around here of late, but do not fear, I am not dead. Unless I suddenly died after typing this, which would be an absolute pisser because I’ve just gone and ticked another box off of the list of ‘British Comics I’d Quite Like To Be In’, by finally getting some work published in Britain’s fourth or fifth funniest magazine, Viz.
Viz is another of those titles I’ve often dreamt about getting my work into, ever since I was a pimply adolescent reading the comic and laughing at all the swears and feeling peculiar in the trouser area when seeing the ads for phone sex lines in the back. Now, years later, I’ve finally done it! And I still feel peculiar in the trouser area.
My Viz debut is a series of three, three-panel gag-strips entitled ‘Internet Troll’, with the ingenious twist that the troll in question is an ACTUAL troll. See what I did there? Genius, I know. This was originally an idea pitched to another title, but when things went a bit quiet there I threw in some extra curse words and sent it off to Viz HQ, who picked it up. HURRAH!
Here’s the first one for your perusal:
Obviously it’s a huge thrill to be finally published in Viz, though I am trying not to take it personally that in the issue wherein I make my debut, there is also a leaflet promoting the services of a suicide hotline. My stuff isn’t THAT bad, is it?!?!
To find out, and to read the rest of my strips, you’ll have to go to your nearest newsagent and plonk down £3.30 for issue 226, out TODAY, you cheapskates! But be warned, it’s not as Fanton-less as it used to be.
SO, it’s been just over a month since the last ever issue of The Dandy came out, and what have I been up to since then? Well, happily, I’ve been far from idle, and have now joined the ranks of The Dandy’s sister publication, The Beano!
YES! Starting with this week’s issue, you’ll be able to read some Little Plum strips wot I dun writted, like, after having been asked to do so by Beano HQ! It’s a thrill to work on a character created by the legendary Leo Baxendale (one of my heroes!) and now drawn wonderfully by Laura Howell (one of my heroines!)
I’ve done about seven or eight of these so far, and it’s been a hoot. I’ve kept to some faithful Little Plum tropes (you’ll find smoke signals, totem poles and a guest appearance from another Baxendale great), and I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s been like writing for some great celebrity or film star or something, except better as Plum doesn’t answer back, get stroppy, and hide in his trailer.
There’s been talk of some more Beano-based script work in the future, so watch this space! And remember: ‘Everyone we know, loves The Beano!’
The Beano issue 3667 is out NOW for two of your British pounds.
Well, today is a day of rather mixed emotions, to say the least.
I hold in my hands the very last print edition of Britain’s longest-running comic, The Dandy. There’s no doubt it’s a beautiful, lovingly-crafted tribute to the title, crammed full of fantastic comics both old and new, and thus it makes for a wonderfully entertaining read guaranteed to bring back fond memories and chuckles galore. It’s a glorious celebration of 75 years of fun, combining both the fact that it’s the final issue AND The Dandy’s 75th birthday in one glorious, foil-embossed package.
I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to this historic issue after two and-a-bit years writing and drawing stuff for The Dandy, and feel very, very, very VERY honoured to do so. I got to draw up a two-page Bad Grandad, as well as three mini-strips, including a reprise of my take on the Dandy classic Harry and his Hippo, and two mini-strips based upon characters who like to eat a lot (a slight irony for one as thin as a rake as me!), Plum MacDuff and Hungry Horace. HURRAH!
But, of course, this issue is also an immensely sad object, heralding as it does the end of the physical edition of a comic that’s been delighting kids for decades, one half of the last two remaining British humour comics for kids on the shelves (the other being The Beano, of course). The Dandy and The Beano have been side-by-side for ages, and seeing The Beano on its own now will be like Morecambe without Wise, Abbott without Costello, Hale without Pace (maybe not the last one). Only half a comedy double act remains.
It’s been an absolute privilege to work on the comic for these past couple of years, and getting the chance to test out brand new characters of my own creation, and work on classics from The Dandy’s vast vaults. It’s also been a joy to work alongside so, so many talented artists, from those whose work I grew up admiring (such a Lew Stringer, Steve Bright, Wayne Thompson and Nigel Parkinson) to those newer talents debuting in the comic either alongside me or just before me, (such as my good chum Stu Munro, Alex Matthews, Nigel Auchterlounie, Steve Beckett, Wilbur Dawbarn, Nik Holmes, Stephen Waller, Rick Eades and Phil Corbett) to those who are a simply a little odd and disturbing (Jamie Smart). And, above all, it’s been immensely gratifying to have had so much lovely feedback from the kids who read the comic, and their satisfied parents, or adults who simply still love comics. I think The Dandy of the past couple of years has been bold, experimental and – above all else – great fun, and I’m glad to have been a small part of such a long and distinguished history. I’m deeply thankful to all who made it possible, especially Craig, Michelle and Mark at Dandy HQ.
However, all is not done for yet, for today ALSO sees the launch of the all-new, all-singing, all-dancing Digital Dandy, the first preview issue of which is available at www.dandy.com right NOW, and includes brand new comics, games and videos for the ever tech-savy kids of today. Next they’ll be beaming comics directly into our brains, I expect. I’ll have some strips cropping up in the new Digi-Dandy soon, including the return of one of my characters from the print edition, so keep your cyber-eyes peeled for THAT.
So, The Dandy is changing again, as it has done through its long history to reflect the world around it. This is never more so evident then when flicking through the latest issue (replete with its facsimile of the very first issue from 1937). Sadly, the internet wasn’t about back then, so we’ll never no for sure how many people fumed as the text-heavy stories of those earlier editions gave way to more and more strips with far more concise speech bubbles. (“Does NO-ONE read words AND pictures any more? This would have never happened under Victoria’s reign! I shall cancel my subscription forthwith, good sirs, and bid you farewell, you poltroons! HARRUMPH!”) But The Dandy (and indeed, all comics) have had to adapt to survive, and the fact The Dandy managed to do so for so long is testament to all the wonderful editors, writers and artists who ferried the title through the decades. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, but there’s always a need to create something for the current generation to feel nostalgic about later; it isn’t the sole preserve of any one generation. Long may this continue, for without innovation The Dandy would have never taken off in the first place.
So here we are, with the Dandy bidding farewell to one era and setting its sights on offering a bold, fresh new experience for the future, just as it did back in 1937. I hope it’ll do well and help usher in the next golden age of comics. Heaven knows we DO still need them.
Now, to finish off here’s a re-working of Korky the Cat’s first ever strip by Stu Munro. ENJOY.
The final issue of The Dandy is out now, priced £3.99. Get ‘em while you can, they’re selling like hot cakes!