Thursday, 22 December 2016


Images copyright D.C. THOMSON & Co., Ltd

I've been putting this post off for a while now, mostly
because I know the reaction it'll provoke in certain quarters,
but also because (believe it or not) I derive no enjoyment from
being 'negative', but I can postpone comment no longer.  So what
am I talking about?  The BEANO Christmas issue, of course.  I
can imagine what some people will say in response to my honest
observations;  things like  "It's a comic for kids, not adults,
so it isn't intended for old farts like you!" 

And it's certainly true (as well as patently obvious) that
the comic is increasingly aimed at younger kids these days,
moreso than it used to be.  But here's a fact:  I didn't begin col-
lecting the Christmas issue of The Beano until I was 20 years of
age, and have bought it every year for the last 38 years.  (I don't
think I've missed any, but if I have, it'll only be one or two of
the more modern ones.)  I've  always enjoyed the Christmas
Beano, even though it wasn't designed (as I'm so often
reminded) for people of  'my age'.

So why could I enjoy earlier editions but not the more
contemporary ones?  I'm not even sure I know, but I'll have a
stab at identifying what I see as the problem.  To start with, too
many 'filler' pages taking up too much space, for no other reason
than to pad out the issue and create the impression that it has far
more content than it actually does.  36 pages, 15 of which are a
combination of fillers, ads, and activity pages, with double-
page spreads whose content would be more suited, in
my humble estimation, to a single page.

I've no complaint about the quality of the art as such,
although, again, two pages seem to be required to contain
images that could easily be fitted into one.  To me, the comic
gives the distinct impression that 18 pages of content (including
filler, activity, and readers' letters pages) have been needlessly
spread over 36, and that there's less actual reading in it than
in previous decades.  So what's wrong with The Beano?
It just doesn't seem like The Beano anymore.

So, £4.50 for a polybagged periodical including cheap
tat worth about 50p (if), and without the snow on the logo
that tradition demands for a Christmas issue, I found this of-
fering overpriced and, overall, disappointing.  It'll doubtless
keep younger kids amused for a short while, but not for as
long as I (as an adult) was amused by this once 'must-
have' iconic comic in 'days of yore'.

Feel free to air your views on the matter.

For 'Beano Boss' page, read 'unnecessary filler' page 


Christopher Nevell said...

Never been a fan of padding but go back 40 years and the Beano Book was just as guilty. I found it lacked the compactness of the weekly. I don't object to ads though as they keep the comic profitable and so on the shelves.

Kid said...

Yeah, but the book is the book and the comic is the comic, CN, and the styles of each have always been different. The ads I'm talking about, incidentally, are in-house ads for stuff available from D.C. Thomson, and could all have been fitted on one page perfectly fine, without needing three separate ones.

Colin Jones said...

I've got the Beano Christmas special which is neither comic nor book - it didn't come in a bag so there's no tat. There's some filler but not much and plenty of strips which all have a proper festive theme which I like to see in a Christmas special. I saw it on sale in Tesco so I bought it for nostalgia's sake and it's quite enjoyable I'd say. Perhaps you should have bought the Christmas special rather than the Christmas issue, Kid.

Kid said...

Yeah, but it's my tradition to buy the Christmas issue, CJ. Took a look at the Special, but thought there were too many activity pages (unless I'm mixing it up with the Summer Special), which bore me rigid. I'll take another look at it when I'm in WHS later today.

paul Mcscotty said...

I can’t really comment on this actual issue as I haven’t seen it in any detail and probably won’t be buying it (however I got the 2000AD and MWOM Xmas editions – 2000AD was very good indeed – MWOM I bought out of habit but a nice issue) .

I have to admit I am not a fan of bagged comics at all and they mostly seem to be full of poor quality toys and cheap sweets (although to be fair some are ok) but I do think a 5 - 7 year old would like them even although most will end up in the bin. Overall for £4.50 with what looks like about 10 “free” gifts it’s not bad value for money and they probably do this as its cheaper adding toys to the cover than buying in new art / stories which is not a great situation for a comic. I’m sure the (numerous) house ads are down to finances as well but that probably annoys me more than the toys.

I think DCT have learned a lot from the disaster of “Dandy Extreme” but are finding it hard to find a regular audience for the Beano whilst trying to hold on to their older readers (9 -10 years old) and as such it becomes less and less like a comic (I also saw a bumper sized 68 page 'bookazine' Beano Christmas Special)

Kid said...

I think the toys are a con, PM, and are only there to justify the higher price. The Beano is taking a three week break over Christmas, and I suspect the £4.50 price is to compensate them to some degree for that extended break. I meant to take another look at The Beano Special when I was out today, but the shops were crowded and I didn't get a chance. British comics just aren't the same as they were in our day, and I don't think that's necessarily (or even automatically) a good thing.

paul Mcscotty said...

I didnt look at the toys so I cant say but I have seen some others and I agree they're not great are they but I think Kids now expect that in their comics (or maybe its a comic with the toys) Comics are certainly not the same as they were in our day (is anything?) but they are operating in a totally different environment with a readership that is a fraction of what they had back in the day - it woud be good to know how many they actually sell. There are good things as well though the printing is in full colour and the quality of paper is a lot better today. I have picked up a few of the regular Beano’s in the last few months and whilst it’s not my cuppa tea anymore I thought it was pretty good – the specials Im not keen on at all though.

TwoHeadedBoy said...

"How Walter Stole Christmas" - this whole "Walter as a supervillain" thing has been troubling me more and more since whenever it first started happening.

Walter shouldn't be a villain - he's a nice kid who doesn't want any trouble. Dennis enjoys tormenting him but will occasionally "team up" with him. He's a weedy kid and he has to stay weedy for all the weedy kids out there. I was a weedy kid, no good at sports and happy to welcome a soft blanket and all that, and here's Walter, a kid a lot like me, who's in a comic and despite all the torment he hardly ever "loses" (often standing by whilst Dennis gets his punishment).

Walter's always been good at his school work too - is the message here "Do well in school and you're no different to Hitler"?

Just troubling is what it is, and that's a load I had to get off my chest here.

Kid said...

The last I heard, PM, The Beano was only selling around 30-35,000 a week (or some figure around that area) so it's really hanging on by its fingernails compared to sales in previous decades. When fewer readers buy it, the comic costs more to compensate for the smaller circulation. Yeah, it's in full colour, but I don't think that The Beano of old, when it only had some colour (and spot colour) was any less entertaining for that. However, it has to be said that the comic is the best of its kind these days, but given the lack of any real competitors, that's not saying much.


The stories are often too fantastical, THB. Dennis (& Co) interacting with Santa and helping him deliver the presents? Remember in the good old days when Santa was just a guy in a red suit and false beard that Dennis would pull for fun? The stories were more rooted in reality, which is why readers could relate to the characters, and parents could enjoy them on another level because they saw themselves and their kids in such strips like Dennis, and Pop, Dick & Harry, etc. PM points out that The Beano has good paper these days, but good paper isn't what makes a good comic.

John Pitt said...

Off topic, Kid, but don't know if I'll get the chance again before Sunday, so have a great Christmas, mate!

Kid said...

Well, your comment is about Christmas, JP, so it's not really off-topic. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year.

Paul McScotty Muir said...

I wasn't meaning that just because the Beano now is on better paper and in full colour that it is better re content - just that having that is a good thing I wold add that the last issue I picked up had some lovely art by Hunt Emerson, Nigel Parkinson and the guy that drew Ball Boy (sorry for got his name). That's a great point raised by THB on Walter I never looked at it that way (I was never a big Dennis fan).

I do wonder how the Beano would sell if they wrote and drew the stories like they did in the 60s with today's artists 14-19 panels a page and more classic characters back etc (it would possibly bomb as kids wouldn't relate to it) still I would like to see the Beano have an adventure strip back like Billy the Cat even done in the more cartoony style.

Kid said...

Yeah, but my point was that the quality of the paper doesn't matter a jot, PM, if the contents aren't worthy of being printed on it - and not necessarily even then. Comics sold in their millions when they were printed on cheap paper, and I'd be surprised if anyone ever decided not to buy a comic because the paper wasn't 'good' enough. I think the use of colour has led to having less panels per page, because colour takes the place of detail nowadays. Without colour, the panels would probably look too open and empty drawn the size they are now, so that's maybe one of the reasons they were drawn more panels per page back in 'our' day. (And to give value for money as well.) All I know is that when I read a Dennis the Menace strip from the '50s or '60s, it makes me laugh, whereas that doesn't happen often with the strip today. (They knew what they were doing back then, no denying it.)

Paul McScotty Muir said...

OK wasn't really my point I was commenting in relation to the gifts etc being crap ie its not all crap in the Beano there are some good things now that we didn't have ( I couldn't comment on the strips as hadn't and won't be reading them) - Anyway Kid have a great Christmas when it comes hope you get lots of nostalgia type goodies hopefully I will have a few US comics / books incl Ditko Dr Strange omnibus and the UK reprint of Sterankos SHIELD (been after that one for a while). Yeah the 50 and 60s were undoubtedly the high point of the Beano (I never really liked Dennis that much at any point although I love Dave Laws early art) but the Beano will never get back to that standard again, its like Mad magazine in the 50 - 70s the talent then was outstanding and it all came together at that one time. I'm off to start wrapping my presents up (my least favourite job :( I always end up "losing the rag" over the sellotape - then its off to see family (the few I have left) and friends. Have fun.

Kid said...

I was buying The Beano every week when it first went full colour, but it didn't make the comic any more attractive to me, so I wonder if that really is the draw for kids nowadays that publishers seem to think it is? To an extent it probably is, sadly - quality be damned. Perhaps readers are just less discerning than we were, eh? And it's been a rare occasion when I've bought any comic because of the 'gift' attached - most of the time it puts me off due to the increased price.

Anyway, have a great Christmas and an even better New Year, PM. You'll love the Dr. Strange Omnibus, no doubt about that. 'Tis a thing of beauty. Presents? I don't give them as such. I just go out on Christmas day and scatter sacks of £100 notes to the wind, fall where they will - hopefully into the hands of poor people and street urchins. Yeah, I'm that kind of a guy. (Total fantasist and nut-job.)

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