It was 1953 before D.C.Thomson
launched another comic. This was The TOPPER, an instant success
with its large pages (the size of one of
today’s tabloids) and colour throughout. As with The DANDY
and The BEANO, the new comic was
not filled with ‘funnies’; it carried a fair leavening of realistic
picture story material and educational
The TOPPER’s companion paper, The BEEZER, appeared three
years later and from DCT’s four
comics, which dominated the market at the
time, came many unforgettable characters which have
appealed to generations of kids – Korky The Cat, Desperate Dan, Biffo
The Bear, Beryl The Peril,
Lord Snooty, Colonel Blink, The Badd Lads, The Bash Street Kids, Minnie The Minx and, of
course, Dennis The Menace and many
70’s and 80’s saw further DCT comic launches – Sparky (1965), Buzz (1973),
(1975), Plug (1977), Nutty
(1980), Hoot (1985) - some of which had a modicum of success in this
highly competitive market. But all
eventually faded, the weaker being merged with the stronger, till all
that remained were The DANDY and The
These famous comics, although they
still follow a similar moral code to the original pre-war
publications, are much changed in content. Gone
is all the picture story and text story material to be
replaced by cover to cover cartoon strips
and jokes – and advertising.
The BEANO and The DANDY are Britain’s leading comics, with legions of
fans across the
generations; as much a part of the British way
of life as Fish ‘n’ Chips and the Union Jack. The
BEANO is an important brand in both the
children’s and the adult collectors’ markets.
The contents of The DANDY and
The BEANO, although created and edited by very different
personalities, have always had a certain
similarity – visually at least. This is mainly because many of
the strip artists worked for both
Korky The Cat was The DANDY’s
front cover character from launch till 1985 – when Desperate
Dan ousted him. Dan appeared in the
first DANDY in a half page, but such was his popularity that he
soon graduated to a full page. Korky and Dan were both the creations of the then editor, Albert
Korky was drawn by Charlie Grigg and Dan by the famous Dudley Dexter Watkins,
Cowboy’s famous jutting chin on that of Albert Barnes !
Other long-running strips which appeared in the first issue of
The DANDY included such household
names as Keyhole Kate and Hungry Horace.
Although they no longer appear in the comics, their names
have slipped into the language. They
were drawn by Allan Morley who also penned Freddie the
Fearless Fly, Wig And
Wam and Jimmy And His Grockle.
Not all the contents were humorous.
There were also adventure stories in the early issues of The
DANDY; stories such as The Daring
Deeds Of Buck Wilson, a cowboy adventure, Lost
Fear, a tale of
castaways in the Andes Mountain and Invisible Dick, a
featuring a boy who could become invisible
when he sniffed from a certain bottle.
The content of The BEANO was
similar to that of its older sibling, The DANDY, in that it featured
the same sort of mix of text, picture
stories, cartoon strips and jokes – and a humanised animal on the
In The DANDY’s case, as already stated, it was
Korky; in The BEANO’s case the ostrich, Big Eggo,
who was drawn by Erg Carter and
remained the cover character till 1947 when he gave way to Biffo
The Bear. The bear had a longer cover life
than the bird, lasting for 30 years, when he was ousted by
the (in)famous Dennis The Menace.
The only other original BEANO
character who lasted into the 1990’s was Lord Snooty, who still
makes the occasional appearance in
top-selling annual The Beano Book.
Pivotal to the success of The
DANDY and The BEANO was Dudley Dexter Watkins, a great and
prolific comic artist who has a unique place
in the comics hall of fame. As well as drawing Desperate
The Bear and Lord Snooty from their first appearance
until his death in 1969, Dudley D (as
he was known) also produced some
superb adventure picture stories.
For The BEANO, he drew Tom
Thumb, Lone Wolf, Shipwrecked Circus and – perhaps his best
known – Jimmy And His Magic Patch.
The latter two he continued to draw until 1947 and 1949
respectively, when they had to be taken over by
other artists due to pressure of work on Dudley D.
For The DANDY he drew Dick
Whittington And His Cat and Danny Long Legs.
Like all of Dudley D’s
illustrations, they were beautifully drawn. For
some time he was the only one of the Thomsons’
allowed to sign his work.
The 1950’s saw a dramatic change in
the content of the The DANDY and The
BEANO – especially
This was the era when Dennis The Menace burst on to the pages of The BEANO (1951);
probably too strong a word. Dennis began life as a third-of-a-page mono strip –
and he didn’t
even have his famous hooped
jumper. It was some weeks till he appeared in the now familiar hooped
livery and a while after that before his
popularity resulted in his promotion to full page. In 1954 he
graduated to 4-colour on the back page.
Dodger was the next
of the ‘new kids on the block’ – he ducked and dived his way into
The BEANO in April 1953. What Dennis set out
to achieve by outrageously bad behaviour, Roger did
by Dodging with a capital ‘D’. But the
result was usually the same for both – a spanking from Dad
and/or a period of ‘imprisonment’ in their
December 1953 saw the explosion of Minnie
The Minx on to the scene. With red-and-black hoops
her male equivalent, Dennis the Menace,
the girl with the ginger hair and the red pom-pom was the
very first exponent of ‘girl-power’ –
and she reckoned she could out-menace Dennis any day!
The Bash Street Kids, famously drawn by Leo Baxendale, came along in February 1954, making
their first appearance in a half page
strip called When The Bell Rings. Later renamed with the title we
all know, they currently occupy a
chaotic 2-page spread.
New characters in The DANDY over
the same period included The Smasher, Screwy
Beef and Chips,
Corporal Clott and Just Jimmy.
Thanks to these innovations, The
DANDY and The BEANO Ruled Okay! in
the 50’s and 60’s,
despite the competition from Fleetway and Odhams. The quality
of the ideas and the writing was the
foundation on which the success was built, but
the importance of the part played by Thomson’s leading
artists cannot be overstated.
We have already mentioned the huge
part played by Dudley D. Watkins, but it was the relative
newcomers who were in the forefront of the
renewed success of the titles. Artists like…
…David Law, the first Dennis the Menace
artist, who drew the little tearaway till his death in 1971.
DL’s other famous creation was Beryl The Peril in The BEEZER. Like Dennis, Beryl still struts her
stuff, but now in the pages of The Dandy
and The Funday Times.
…Roger The Dodger was the work of Ken Reid,
who also drew Grandpa, featuring the exploits of a
pensioned dodger, in The BEANO.
For The DANDY, Ken drew Angel Face,
Bing Bang Benny and Ali Ha-ha And The Forty Thieves.
Ken’s most famous character was
probably Jonah, whose
exploits took over the back page of The BEANO on March 15th,
Week by week, Jonah managed to sink
every boat he set foot on; he even managed to sink whole towns and villages !
was the artist
-The Bash Street Kids
…and had a considerable influence on
the development of British comics. His busy and slightly manic style
had many imitators.
Throughout the 1950’s, many
well-drawn picture stories appeared in the two comics. Some were
illustrated versions of characters from text
stories - such as Black Bob in The DANDY and Iron Fish
in The BEANO. The best of the
picture story artists of this era and into the 60’s was probably Paddy
Brennan. For The DANDY he drew Young Drake,
Robin Hood and Crackaway Jack. As well as new
characters in The BEANO, he also took over
Jimmy And His Magic Patch and The Shipwrecked
Circus from Dudley
Another adventure story artist who
made his mark on The BEANO and The DANDY was Bill
Holroyd. He drew strips like The Boy With Iron Hands and Wuzzy Wizz in The DANDY and
Bucktooth and Red Rory Of The Eagles in The BEANO.
The legacy of these great adventure
artists has been largely lost now, as The BEANO and The
DANDY contain no adventure stories and none
of the traditional Boys’ Papers has survived into the
21st Century. By the 1970s the
comics became almost entirely populated by humorous cartoon
characters. Readers had made it clear that
they preferred the funny strips to the text and adventure
Many talented artists contributed to
the ongoing success of the two comics, none more so than David
Sutherland. Originally an adventure story
artist, he had produced work for The Beano during the late
1950's on series such as The Iron
Fish, The Great Flood of London and Billy the Cat.
The ability of Sutherland to closely
copy the styles of other artists allowed him to take over top
characters The Bash Street Kids (1962), Biffo the Bear (1969) and Dennis The Menace (1971). For
almost thirty years the Beano's 'Big Two', Dennis The Menace and the Bash Street
Kids, were drawn in
two very different styles by David
Sutherland’s semi-retirement in 1998
saw Lincoln artist David Parkins
given responsibility for
Dennis, though Sutherland continued
to produce work for annuals plus a weekly helping of Bash Street
Former teacher Jim Petrie was
another long-running contributor, notching an amazing 2000 episodes
of the demonic Minnie the Minx, before
he retired in early 2001.
Other mainstay artists of the two
comics were Bob Nixon (Roger The Dodger, Ivy
The Terrible, Korky
The Cat and Beryl the Peril) whose
clean, cute style was hugely popular with readers.
Ken Harrison (Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty, Robbie Rebel),
a master craftsman, whose wonderful
semi-realistic style allows him to tackle former
Dudley Watkins characters to great effect.
Barrie Appleby (Cuddles and Dimples, Roger the
Dodger, Bananaman) – Appleby's style shows great
energy and carries on the great tradition
of slapstick humour in the comics.
Tom Paterson (Calamity James, Fiddle O'Diddle, Brain Duane, Minnie the Minx). Originally known
for his Baxendale
inspired characters, Paterson's beautifully clean line and
off-beat humour attracts a
If you can suggest some additional
information on the Beano and Dandy History please contact us. Thank you.
BEANO STARTING DATES
BIG EGGO - Started on cover
Finished as B. W.
LORD SNOOTY - 30.07.38.
BIFFO - 24.01.48.
DENNIS - 17.03.51. (On cover
ROGER - 18.04.53.
PLUM - 10.10.53.
MINNIE - 19.12.53.
BASH ST. KIDS - 13.02.54. Originally
called “When The Bell
JONAH - 15.03.58.
3 BEARS -
BILLY WHIZZ - 16.05.64.
BALL BOY -
GNASHER'S TALE - 32.05.77. (First
appearance in Dennis page
SMUDGE - 19.04.80.
RASHER - 22.09.84. (First appearance in Dennis page
IVY THE TERRIBLE -
CALAMITY JAMES -
LES PRETEND - 28.04.90.
THE NUMSKULLS -
TIM TRAVELLER -
CRAZY FOR DAISY -
BEA - 19.09.98.
FREDDIE FEAR - 05.01.02
ROBBIE REBEL - 12.01.02
DANDY STARTING DATES
DESPERATE DAN - 4th December, 1937
KORKY THE CAT - 4th December, 1937
BLINKY - 29th January, 1994
STRANGE HILL SCHOOL - 18th January, 1986
THE DOYLE FAMILY - 14th December,
CUDDLES AND DIMPLES - 1st November,
OLLIE FLIPTRICK - 12th January, 2002
EDDIE POTTER - 8th January 2000
PINKIE’S CRACKPOT CIRCUS - 1st
ANIMAL ASYLUM - 10th August, 2002
PUSS ‘N’ BOOTS - 11th December, 1993
(From Sparky via Topper)
WINKER WATSON - 1st April, 1961
BERYL THE PERIL - 18th September,
1993 (originally in Topper)
KEYHOLE KATE - 4th December, 1937
HUNGRY HORACE - 4th December, 1937
ADDIE AND HERMY - 16th December,
SMASHER - 20th April 1957
BANANAMAN - 21st September, 1985
JONAH - 13th December, 1993
DIRTY DICK - 15th October, 1960
CORPORAL CLOTT - 12th November, 1960
BRASSNECK - 5th December, 1962