IT FINALLY happened! After nearly two years of working on The Dandy since it’s last revamp, I’ve finally been afforded the great honour of drawing the front cover for the comic, for the latest issue (pictured above).
I was thrilled when Dandy HQ approached me to ask if I’d be interested in doing a cover, using Bad Grandad as its focus. I thought about it for approximately half a second, before declaring ‘YES!’
It was then I realised what I’d done. Draw a COVER? For The DANDY? Have my work right on the front there, for all to see? GULP.
After changing my freshly-soiled underwear, I decided to crack on. I’d already imagined Grandad at the forefront on his mobility scooter, as that’d be a nice, dynamic image to work with. That image alone would be good, I reasoned, but it’d probably work well with a little gag to accompany it, which is where the speed limit joke came from (I apologise for NOTHING).
Then I set about planning to draw a few people scattering out of his way – just generic, terrified people, before I realised I was doing the DANDY’S cover, so why not use some of their characters?
And so I added in Desperate Dan (based on Jamie Smart’s excellent version), Phil Corbett’s take on Korky the Cat, Helena the Demon from Alexander Matthews’ Grrrls!, along with my very own Constable Clod, and Dave the Squirrel (who completes his Dandy journey from infrequent cameos, to mini-strip stardom to front cover idol this week).
Et voilà, (as the French and pretentious English-speakers say), it was done. I sent off the finished coloured version to Dandy HQ, and they said they loved it, so the job was done!
And now here it is, in my hands and on shop shelves, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out, and think it looks quite striking and fun. I’m proud to have done it before the comic finishes its printed run, and proud to be among the likes of Jamie Smart, Wayne Thompson, Nigel Parkinson and Nigel Auchterlounie, all of whom have produced amazing covers over the past couple of years.
There you go. I think that about covers it! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaohmygodhelpme
The Dandy issue 3598 is out NOW for £1.99, and includes more Bad Grandad and Constable Clod inside, along with excellent new strips by Stu Munro, Alex Matthews, Dean Bhishma Rankine and the return of Corporal Clott by Nigel Auchterlounie! So buy it, already!
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!
“Ya can join today!” “What? YAAAAAAAYYYYY!”
And so ended the opening credits to one of the most influential TV shows of my young life, so influential in fact that I took Rolf up on his offer and DID indeed join his Cartoon Club, getting myself a badge, signed photo and a quarterly newsletter in return. Ah, happy days!
Rolf’s Cartoon Club was unmissable viewing for my younger self, filled with cartooning tips, interviews with cartoonists and animators and a great mix of classic, Hollywood cartoons and other lesser known fare. It felt like half an hour dedicated especially to my interests, and I loved it. Rolf was like a gentle grandfatherly figure, except one who drew cartoons and made funny noises as he did so. He was awesome.
Rolf was a huge influence on my early cartooning days, not only from his Cartoon Club but also via his excellent books ‘Your Cartoon Time’ and ‘Your Animation Time’, fascinating, helpful guides showing youngsters like me how to draw and dispensing invaluable advice that I still find myself using to this very day. The cartooning seeds were already sown in my brain as a child, but Rolf helped them grow with his enthusiasm and insight, turning those seeds into strong, cartoony oaks (I may have stretched the metaphor a bit there, but you get my meaning).
So I was delighted so see Rolf receive the BAFTA Fellowship Award on Sunday, honouring the affable Australian’s contribution to television over the decades, ranging from Rolf’s Cartoon Time, his Cartoon Club, Animal Hospital and Rolf on Art (which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the sniffy comments made by broadsheet columnists who seem to think that art was created solely for art critics).
Here’s Rolf accepting his well-deserved award in that warm, friendly manner which characterises all his work. Sadly, Rolfaroo couldn’t be there.
Congratulations, Rolf! And thanks for all the help.