Friday, 24 July 2015

KID'S KLASSIC KOMIC KOVERS - THE BEANO #1...


Image copyright DC THOMSON & Co., Ltd

The BEANO #1.  1938 and still on sale today. 
(The latest issue, obviously, not the one above.)

7 comments:

Phil said...

Holy crap Dennis and Gnasher don't look so bad now do they?
A few thoughts . Look a free mask! Comics and magazine still do that.
Racist caricatures and how they travel. There aren't a lot of black Americans in the UK. But the caricature from the U.S. Was so strong it was picked up by British comics. And yet when black American troops came to Britain during ww2 by all accounts they were treated better than back in the U.S. You could write a whole thesis on it.
Third was the black kid with the watermelon actually a character in the comic or what? Seems a bit random.

Kid said...

The kid with the watermelon was just part of the masthead as far as I know, Phil. I don't really see him as a racist caricature because kids like him did exist at the time. He was simply a comic character, in the same way that Dennis The Menace is. I sometimes wonder if Dennis had been created by a black man, would critics call Dennis an racist caricature of a white kid? What do you think? When I freelanced for IPC in London, there was a black woman who worked in the canteen who spoke exactly like the maid in Tom & Jerry cartoons, and who, going from the maid's legs that we saw, was clearly similarly built. If people in cartoons or comic strips actually exist (whatever their colour), can they be said to be racist caricatures or stereotypes?

Phil said...

Depends. Because most people don't get to meet other people of other races (in 1938 particularly) stereotypes are the way people think of others. It's when that's all you see that it becomes a problem. Monty Python often did Scotsmen with the kilt and the accent etc. but there are other portrayals and personal experience which counter that. I mean James Bond was Scots.

Christopher Nevell said...

The old class system pigeonholed a lot of people and certainly the masthead, in choosing a black child to be poor and not rich, was reinforcing one of many stereotypes of the day. The place for it today is as a history reference and reminder of past prejudices. I'm sure all of us cringe when we see that from our distant perch of 2015 - just as those in 75 years time will no doubt cringe at some of today's inequalities.

Kid said...

Yes, but James Bond only acquired a Scots father AFTER Sean Connery took on the role, because Fleming, who had originally not approved of his casting, changed his mind and wanted to show his approbation. Giving Bond Scottish ancestry in his next book was his way of doing it. Anyway, I think things are only racist when there's an element of hatred or bad intent behind behind something, and I don't feel that applies in the case of the Beano masthead.

******

I don't think the intention of the masthead figure is to cast Negros in a negative light, Chris. In fact, it's quite an affectionate portrayal. To be honest, I don't think any British kids would've had any idea about racial stereotypes and the figure wouldn't have been subject to such scrutiny (or analysis) back then. It's just a cute cartoon kid who happens to be black - it's not intended as a statement on the condition of black people. It's no more a stereotype of blacks than Alfred E. Neuman is of whites - and certainly not 'racist'. Or am I too naive?

DeadSpiderEye said...

I think water melon kid is featured inside, as an editorial mascot, not a strip and if memory serves, the caricature in that instance, would draw even more protest. Does his caricature betray a racist intent within the offices of DC Thomson at the time? Well I'm pretty sure, in this instance, we can say it doesn't. I dunno if Phil is aware, but DC Thomson had a reputation for exercising their own internal prejudice, not a racist one I might add, with some thoroughness but I'm not aware of any instance were those issues were reflected through caricature on the pages of their comics. I have no idea if the issue in question, is one that still features in minds of the proprietors there but I can also tell you that the legacy of that reputation, still impinges upon how DC Thomson is regarded as a publisher.

Kid said...

'Peanut' is the character's name, DSE, and he presents the joke page on the inside back cover.

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