Monthly Archives: January 2014

Nibbling and Gnashing

I’ve been pestering The Beano to let me have a go at scripting comics for a while. I usually write my own stuff, but I really enjoy the freedom that comes with writing for another artist. Any cartoonist who writes their own comics will tell you that they’re always thinking “do I really want to have to draw that?”. Knowing another artist will be tackling it really lets the creativity flow!

Late last year The Beano Ed finally relented and offered me the chance of scripting ‘Man Vs Wood’, a mini-strip by Nick Brennan (of Crazy For Daisy and Blinky) and I really enjoyed seeing Nick’s interpretation of my daft pun-laden script.

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All artwork is copyright © DC Thomson 2014

I did more script work for the Christmas issue and was then offered the chance to bring back a classic character as part of a revamp in the new year: The Nibblers.

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All artwork is copyright © DC Thomson 2014

The Nibblers originally ran from 1970 to 1974. In 1977 it was revived, and continued in the comic until 1984. The initial run was drawn by Ron Spencer, and the second by John Sherwood. It’s John Sherwood’s run that I remember as a kid, so when The Nibblers have a Pizza delivered in the first strip I paid tribute to him by having them live at 77 Sherwood Crescent.

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All artwork is copyright © DC Thomson 2014

The strip is drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist (no pun intended. Mice? Underground? Oh please yourselves) Hunt Emerson, meaning that I am – *ahem* – probably as good a writer as Alan Moore (who wrote Emerson’s take on Leviticus). I couldn’t believe it when I saw who was drawing the strip, it really is an honour to write it. Hunt is also back drawing Little Plum after a 7 year hiatus, in which he drew Ratz.

I’m really enjoying writing The Nibblers, the characters are so much fun to write and so far I’ve managed to Caerphilly avoid cheese puns.

Amazingly, I’ve also been given the job of scripting a true Beano icon… Dennis’ faithful Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound: Gnasher! Here’s a panel from this week’s chaotic tail… I mean TALE!

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All artwork is copyright © DC Thomson 2014

Originally drawn by Bash Street Kids legend Dave Sutherland from the 70 – 90s, then Numbskulls artist Barry Glennard, Gnasher is now drawn by Beano Hall-Of-Famer and firm fan favourite Barrie Appleby. Barrie’s other work includes (among many many other things) ten years on Roger The Dodger as well as drawing Bananaman and Cuddles & Dimples for The Dandy.

His artwork on Gnasher is far superior to anything I could imagine and writing for it has easily been the highlight of my career so far. As the weeks go on readers will see more of Gnasher‘s son Gnipper and *spoiler alert* this week’s strip features a cameo from The Beano‘s other cartoon canines, Pup Parade.

This week’s Beano also see’s the return of old favourites Les Pretend and Rasher by laura Howell and Lew stringer respectively, as well as Number 13, Karate Sid, Tricky Dicky, Calamity James, Bananaman and the usual Dennis The Menace, Minnie The Minx, Bash Street Kids, Billy Whizz and Roger The Dodger. It is on sale now in all good newsagents, priced £2 – more power to your pocket money!

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Filed under Barrie Appleby, Dave Sutherland, Gnasher, Gnipper, Hunt Emerson, Nick Brennan, Pup Parade, The Beano, The Nibblers

60 Years Of Minnie The Minx.

Minnie the Minx is the third longest running Beano character, behind Dennis the Menace and Roger the Dodger. Minnie was initially created and drawn by the legendary Leo Baxendale (creator of The Bash Street Kids, Little Plum and The Three Bears). Minnie‘s first appearance in The Beano was issue 596, dated 19 December 1953. 

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Minnie shows some respect for her creator.

When Baxendale left The Beano in 1961, 28 year old art teacher Jim Petrie took over drawing duties on Minnie The Minx.

40 years later, on the 13th of January 2001, the final Jim Petrie Minnie The Minx strip was printed in The Beano. Jim had notched up exactly 2000 strips for Minnie between 1961 and 2001, the second highest single artist run for a strip behind Dave Sutherland’s Bash Street Kids, which he has drawn for over 100 years. Well, not quite, but I bet it seems that long to him.

In the final Petrie Minnie strip she meets up with the artist and bids a (sort of) fond farewell after minxing him. Jim himself can be seen assuring readers they’ll enjoy the “new artist”, Tom Paterson (of the insanely excellent Calamity James).

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Tom’s Minnie was a very different character, and went through quite a few changes. Her parents seemed to foster her out to Sweeney Toddler‘s parents for a while and she ditched her red striped jumper for a yellow one. She was going through that difficult phase that all 50 year old children do, the mid-life crisis.

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Tom’s gloriously gruesome take on Minnie The Minx.

Desperate Dan artist Ken Harrison took over the strip in 2008, reversing much of the changes and bringing the character back to her roots. The red jumper returned and with it came new writers and an invigorated strip much closer to the Jim Petrie era.

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In late 2012 Minnie was passed over to Nigel Parkinson, who draws it to this day (alongside his drawing duties on Dennis The Menace).

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Minnie celebrates her 60th birthday with her fellow Beano chums, care of Nigel Parkinson.

In late 2013 this run of excellent artists was finally put to an end when, on the eve of Minnie‘s 60th birthday, a terrible artist was given the chance to ruin the character for everyone.

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Drawing ‘Breaking Dad’, in which Minnie manages to injure her long suffering dad every week, was nothing but an unadulterated pleasure for me. Artists often talk about fulfilling childhood dreams, and working for The Dandy & The Beano has certainly been that for me – but drawing Minnie The Minx is the absolute high point. I honestly can’t think what could top it.

Unless they let me draw for the annual of course…

See Minnie The Minx in The Beano every Wednesday, available at all good newsagents, WH Smiths, Sainsburys, Asda, The Co-Op and the little corner shop on Winter Road, Milton, Portsmouth (just up from The Shepherd’s Crook pub opposite Milton Park).

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Filed under Dennis the Menace, Jim Petrie, Leo Baxendale, Minnie the Minx, The Beano, The Dandy, Tom Paterson