Saturday, 3 November 2012

Some Different Takes on The Beano

A comic that's been around for as long as The Beano, and one that's become so much a part of popular culture that most people should be able to name a few characters just by looking at them, is obviously ripe for parody, pastiche or homage. And it's been done a LOT.

One example being this Steve Bell thing from 1984:

Fun? Yep. A miserable yet affectionate look at what may happen to the Bash Street Kids (and Minnie the Minx) thirty years after however old they're supposed to be in the pages of the Beano.

Below are FOUR more different "versions" of everyone's favourite comic (be aware, there's a few rude words)...

Viz can always be relied on for a bit of that satirical stuff that everyone loves. They've done various rips on the Dandy over the years, with such characters as Desperately Unfunny Dan, Wanker Watson and Corky the Twat appearing over the years. Beano characters have appeared less often - Wikipedia informs me of Little Plumber, but I haven't seen this one yet. One that appeared back in 2001 was Eminemis the Menace, and here it is:

Obviously, in the wake of Viz's success, a billion imitators popped up all over the place, filled with "alternative" humour. Fleetway had a go at an alternative comic for the youngsters, and Oink! was the result. It had its moments (a LOT of them, to be honest), but you know - outrage, rudeness etc. The full story's well-known but that's not what we're looking at today. They put out a couple of annuals during Oink!'s short life, and the 1988 book featured this thing:

John Geering's there, proving he can draw just about anything that's given to him - but still, biting the hand that feeds him and all that. It's funny and all, and shows clear (and assumed) knowledge of the source material, yet it's also somewhat mean-spirited (a running joke in a lot of Oink! strips is being made to read the Deano as an ultimate punishment). The obvious joke here is that Oink! finished after 68 issues, whilst the "old hat" Beano is still around, 24 years after the death of Oink! Ho ho ho and chortle indeed!

Next up is a more recent example. A small-press mini-comic from 2011 by Jon Horner, it's Beanotown. Clever one this - he's taken the first chapter of Alan Moore's Watchmen and replaced the superheroes with Beano characters. So we have Les Pretend as Rorschach, Dennis the Menace as the Comedian, Walter the Softy as Nite Owl, Smiffy as Ozymandias, Billy Whizz as Doctor Manhatten and Ivy the Terrible as Silk Spectre. Here it is:

Will Jon carry on and do the entire Watchmen like this? It'd be impressive and ambitious, but I'm not too sure I'd like to see Walter and Ivy doing the nasty on a couch (or even Ivy and multiple Billy Whizzes for that matter). All in all this remains one of my all-time favourite small-press comics, and a lot of respect has been shown to both of its sources.

Saving the best till last (as is the best thing to usually do), we have this mini masterpiece from the 1968 Beano annual - self parody ahoy! The premise here is that the Bash Street Kids, fed up of school as usual, decide to go and work at the Beano offices. Upon their arrival, the staff all make a run for it, so it's down to the kids to produce that week's Beano. With Smiffy appointed as editor, things don't go exactly as planned, and the results of their work is a mixed-up mess of joy:

Messed up characters! 

-An uncharacteristic Biffo taking on Dennis's traits, drawn by Dudley D. Watkins, marking a menace appearing on the Beano's cover six years before Dennis officially moved onto the front page.

-Dave Jenner's Punch (of Punch & Jimmy fame) being beaten up by one of Lord Snooty's pals. 

-Roger the Dodger by Robert Nixon (right?) having some cross-dressing fun.

-The Bash Street Kids replaced by bears (I THINK this is done by Bob McGrath).

-Minnie the Minx given Billy Whizz's superhuman speed (Jim Petrie's good at drawing "speed"!). 

-Little Plum multiplied by three - surreal stuff by Ron Spencer. Love the bit where Chiefy calls the Beano office to inform them that something's wrong, only to hear the chaos that the Bash Street Kids are creating! 

- And Davey Law's Dennis donning Snooty's top hat and acting like a lord. His sadistic dad STILL finds a reason to give the lad a slippering.

So, the moral of the story? There's nothing funnier than laughing at yourself perhaps? Maybe there isn't a moral, but it's always fun to take a different look at something so familiar.


  1. Great stuff. What's refreshing about those Beano Annual strips is just how well they're laid out and how easy they are to read. No eyestrain or headaches involved. Incidentally, Dave Jenner was the original artist on Sammy Shrink in Wham! before Terry Bave took over from him.

    1. That's interesting - I didn't even know Sammy Shrink was in Wham! He's not in any of the annuals I have, but it's definitely a comic I haven't read enough of.

    2. He's got two strips in the WHAM! Annual for 1971 - a three pager and a two pager, both in full colour. His very first appearance was resized into two pages for the Knockout Annual for 1973, with the last panel relettered to mention that he appears elsewhere in the book.

    3. Well that helps - I have the Wham! annuals from 1966, 1968 and 1969, and the only Knockout I have is 1982. Least I know what to look for now!

  2. These are brilliant, especially the first one. I'm pretty sure that someone like Smiffy is making the decisions in the government these days!

    1. It'd make sense, if Smiffy was pulled out of Bash Street and put into a public school for some reason.

  3. I like the fact that Plug became famous in Steve Bell's parody, because the 'real' Plug always considered himself stunningly handsome and assured of the fact that he would one day be a film star. The Oink! parody is just dreadful - as I said on my blog, it was all very well Oink! taking the pee out of the DC Thomson comics for featuring the same characters for years and years, but they never stopped to think WHY those same characters had such long lives - people LIKED them. Everyone knows Dennis, Minnie and the Bash Street Kids, only hardcore eighties nostalgists will have heard of Harry the Head, Weedy Willy or Tom Thug.

    1. Yep, dripping with bitter irony is what it is. A shame really, because "Biffo the Bore" aside, those are some nicely drawn strips.