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by Royston

The Dandy in the news

December 5, 2012 in General

You can’t have failed to hear the news about the end of the print edition of The Dandy, which ran across all the media yesterday.

BBC news had the story, national newspapers covered it, The One Show ran a profile of Desperate Dan (why do TV people always have to put the presenters in boxes with speech bubbles when they cover comics?) and there were early thoughts on the new digital edition.

But here are a few links you may have missed, blog posts from those closer to the story: Dandy contributors Andy Fanton, Jamie SmartLew Stringer and Wilbur Dawbarn.

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by Royston

Cartoonist patches things up

February 22, 2011 in News

Sometimes cartoonists find that their lovingly crafted drawings don’t look quite as intended when they appear in print.
Mr Meecher cartoon by Wilbur Dawbarn

When PCOer Wilbur Dawbarn opened the current issue of The Dandy, he was slightly confused by one of the frames in his strip “Mr Meecher, the Uncool Teacher”, above.

It seems that a Mr Meecher from a previous issue, the one on the left, made an unscheduled appearance, along with two speech bubbles from the old strip. There must have been a few confused young readers.

No-one at The Dandy seems to know exactly how this happened. But a solution can be found at Wilbur’s blog. Just as you can download “patches” to fix errant computers, so he has created a Mr Meecher patch, which is available to download.

Unlike computer patches though, this one requires a pair of scissors and a Pritt stick …

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by Royston

The DFC could make a comeback

July 19, 2010 in General, News

The DFC coverThe DFC, the short-lived children’s comic which was launched in 2008 (much covered here on the Bloghorn) could be set for a return.

The publisher David Fickling has indicated that the comic could return in 2011, while acknowledging that its subscription-only format was probably a mistake.

The comics blog downthetubes.net has the story.

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by Royston

Last issue of the DFC out today

March 27, 2009 in General

lastdfc
The final issue of the DFC is out today, though a group of artists and writers who were involved in the comic have launched a new blog dedicated to news, drawings, and new projects called Super Comics Adventure Squad. You can also read some of the strips that will not now appear in print on the downsized DFC website.

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by Royston

John Jensen recalls some beaut, bonzer comics

December 15, 2008 in General

Following on from his look at the weird and wonderful work of Fletcher Hanks, PCOer John Jensen takes another trip back to the comic books of the 1930s and 1940s with the focus on his native Australia

“The Case of the Haunted Piecrust”, “Wocko the Beaut”, “Supa-Dupa Man”, “Speed Umplestoop” and “Tripalong Hoppity” – all of these and many more funnies fell out of the wonderfully zany mind of cartoonist Emile Mercier.


A panel from “Wocko the Beaut”, courtesy of Lambiek.net

Mercier was born in New Caledonia in 1901. Twenty years later, in Australia, he began his career as a freelance cartoonist. During the Second World War, the bulk of his work, the comics, appeared in an array of Frank Johnson Publications. Johnson encouraged Australian talents and his publications developed a character and liveliness which set them apart – sometimes for the better, sometimes not – from the many US imports which which were dumped in Australia, usually as ships’ ballast, during the war.

Due to wartime paper restrictions, Johnson was forced to reduce the size of some offerings: Star Pocket Comics ran for at least 14 issues, successful in spite of some issues being printed on brown wrapping paper. The same paper shortage brought forth a decree that there would be no new regular runs of comic books.

Johnson resorted to cunning to deal with the situation. His regular characters continued to appear each month but each issue bore a new title: King Comics, Amazing Comics, Gem Comics, Slick Comics, Bonzer Comics, Flash Comics and more. When imagination failed, the word “new” was tacked to an old title and the process began over again. Mercier’s work appeared in most of these issues.

Mercier was a people watcher but the people he watched, ordinary everyday Australians, were transformed into creatures of his eccentric universe. Occasionally in the background of a cartoon someone would be walking around with springs on his or her feet, or on stilts or jumping around on pogo sticks. His characters’ feet quite often sagged at a ninety-degree angle half way along the sole of the foot. Dogs, cats and boozy types abounded. Mercier’s cast list was very Australian.

I met Mercier just after the war, and I asked him for his definition of a good cartoon. “A good cartoon, sonny, is one that is accepted, published and paid for,” he said. You might argue with this definition but for me it was heart-lightening.

A few months after our meeting I took my first comic strip, “Mary Mixup, Female Spy Terrific” (by Jon J) to Frank Johnson Publications where, to my amazement it was accepted and published. My mother, who hated comics, wouldn’t have them in the house. When I took home my copy of Gem Comics No.27 with “Mary Mixup” within, Mum took it, tore it and threw it away.


John Jensen’s “Chester Nutte” was published in Gem Comics, circa 1947

In spite of this, other titles followed, such as “Chester Nutte”, a time traveller, above, and “Snooper McDroople, Ace Newspaper Reporter”. Mercier’s drawing never influenced me but a little of his humour rubbed off. The strips improved a bit over the twelve months I worked on them and there were strips for other comics publishers too, but “Mary Mixup” was an abomination.

Frank Johnson wanted to withhold payment because the drawings were so bad. I remembered what Mercier had told me, and squeaked: “If the drawings are good enough to publish, they are good enough to be paid for.” A voice from a neighbouring office said, “Y’can’t argue with that, Frank.”

Johnson paid up – eventually. I think he was so traumatised by my demand that he continued to use my work, and pay for it … eventually.

Bloghorn says click J for Jensen.

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by Royston

The DFC: Now we are six (months)

November 27, 2008 in General


PCOer Royston Robertson writes:

The Forbidden Planet blog has a nice piece to mark six months of The DFC, the subscription-only kids’ comic launched earlier this year. Instead of canvassing the opinions of grown-up comic fans, they’ve interviewed a member of the target audience: Molly, nine.

This was interesting to me as my son, who is six, reads The DFC. He loves it, but of course he only knows about it because his cartoonist Dad wanted to see it. His friends are largely unaware of The DFC because it has such a low media profile. It really needs to get into the shops permanently (it’s currently on a one-week trial at Tesco).

Like Molly in the FP piece, he also goes for the funny ones rather than the more serious, adventure ones. I think I did much the same thing with comics as a child.

Forbidden Planet blog

The DFC

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

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by Royston

Cartoonist Les Barton dies

October 22, 2008 in General

Les Barton, a fine cartoonist who worked in both the gag cartoons and the comics markets, has died. He was as well known for cartoons in magazines such as Punch as for his comic work, including the much-loved “I Spy” in Sparky.

Born in 1923, he began selling cartoons in the 1940s and was a long-standing member of the Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain, attending its inaugural meeting in 1960.

Cartoonist and blogger Lew Stringer has more on the comics work of Les Barton.
UPDATED: 26th November 2008. Full obituary written by Dr Mark Bryant from The Independent newspaper.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent

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by Royston

New children's comic launched

May 13, 2008 in News


The perceived wisdom is that the children’s comic market in Britain is in decline, but Random House publishing is attempting to reverse the trend with a new comic called The DFC. Initially the comic, which is aimed at eight to 12-year-olds, will be subscription only, though there are plans for it to appear in shops. You can read an interview with David Fickling, the man behind the comic, at Times Online, and the DFC homepage is here.

The PCO: British cartoon talent