|Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd|
Friday, 9 November 2012
BEANO VERSUS DANDY (EXPANDED EDITION)...
Browsing through the comics section of my local WHS this afternoon, my eyes spied the latest issue of The BEANO. Something about it looked different, so picking it up, I perused its contents. Looks good, I thought, so I decided to buy it, along with its companion paper, the desperately doomed DANDY. (Which didn't look so good, it has to be honestly said.) I was surprised to see that The Beano's 'new look' also came with a new price - £2.
Let's explore that for a mo. The Beano has 36 pages; forgetting for a sec that around 14 of them are a mixture of ads, games & puzzle pages, that works out at a little over 5 pence per page, which is pretty good value. It's still good value at just over 9 pence for each of the 22 pages of actual strip cartoons, but obviously the first option is the better of the two. That's to say it's good value 'relatively speaking' - whether the public perceives it as such is open to question.
The Beano raising its price by a quarter is worrying 'though. (I presume the comic was still £1.50 last week, but it's been a while since I bought it.) 50 pence is quite a steep rise, especially in one go. Comics normally only do this when circulation is falling - it's a way of compensating for the loss of revenue from declining sales. We'll have to wait and see whether the increase will scare off even more buyers. You'd think D.C. THOMSON would seek to entice The Dandy's 7,000 readers by combining it with The Beano when the former expires in a few weeks, but it seems not, apparently.
Also, after coming under fire not that long ago for describing cover-mounted toys as 'gifts' when the regular price was increased to pay for them, you'd think that Thomson's would take greater care to avoid misleading advertising. '2 Huge Posters' shouts the cover blurb, but it's actually only one double-sided poster. Is there a difference? Yes, there is. Two posters would be two separate posters which could be displayed simultaneously. As only one side can be seen at a time, it should have been described as what it was - a double-sided poster. A subtle distinction admittedly, but an important one. Any siblings hoping for a poster each were doomed to bitter disappointment.
So, let's look at a couple of Beano pages. First one up (above) is CALAMITY JAMES, as drawn by TOM PATERSON. Well drawn, well composed, and not only funny to read, but also to look at. It may be a reprint for all I know, but regardless, quality is quality.
Next up is MINNIE The MINX, drawn by KEN H. HARRISON, the only artist since the legendary DUDLEY D. WATKINS to do justice to Oor WULLIE & The BROONS. Nice simple layouts, clear storytelling, immaculately illustrated - what more can I say? Now, however, let's look at the other side of the coin.
I have to admit that The DANDY logo has been improved by the addition of the white border on the inside of the letters, but the overall shape is still somewhat lacking. Some apologists for the comic's failure have blamed its imminent demise on kids being unable to find it in shops, but in every WHS I've been in, it's always placed right next to The Beano. We'll just have to put that lame excuse down to bitterness on the part of those who promoted themselves as the comic's saviours, but instead hastened it to its doom on a grease-wheeled skateboard.
And here's one of the reasons why. Artwork which is stiff and flat, minimalist layout (look at the 'classroom' - then recall the work that LEO BAXENDALE put into The BASH STREET KIDS and The SWOTS & The BLOTS), too many panels consisting of talking heads, and poor perspective. (In the first pic, teacher looks as if he's floating above the pupils.) This is the standard of art I'd expect to see in a fanzine produced by a 14 year old. (Which probably explains why someone who lurks around my site is such a big fan of this 'style' that he tries to emulate it.) But it gets worse. Look below.
Sigh! Horse poo mountain indeed. That covers it. Sadly, nothing more need be said.
However, I'll say something anyway. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Look at the awful lettering font used in the above two pages. The Dandy editor justified its use by saying that kids found it easier to read than upper case. I'm not convinced, but even if it were true, it would surely only apply to neatly rendered upper and lower case, not a spidery scrawl. Also, upper and lower case is a style that has traditionally been associated with nursery comics in Britain. (TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR, etc.) Perhaps this is one of the reasons that comics have long been seen in this country as being fit only for children. Upper case is not only easier to read (in my opinion), it also makes a page seem less juvenile. Something to consider perhaps?
Posted by Kid at Friday, November 09, 2012