Category Archives: Calamity James

Great News Inside!

Remember how whenever a comic would end it would always have ‘Great News Inside’ splashed across the cover, only to tell you the comic was ending that week? Well, sadly today marks my last day as a full time cartoonist. I’ll still be drawing and writing in my spare time, but just not as a career.

This last ten months has been a blast and I’ve been given the opportunity to do some amazing things and work with some amazing artists. A childhood dream came true when I was allowed to draw Minnie The Minx in the mini strips How To Train Your Parents and Breaking Dad, as well as writing for Nigel Parkinson’s Minnie in The Beano Summer Special.

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I was apprehensive when first asked to write both Little Plum and The Nibblers, as I wasn’t that familiar with the characters, but the inimitable Hunt Emerson (who draws both strips) is an amazing artist whose ability to take my stories to another level with his fantastic artwork has been both a jaw-dropping joy and a privilege to see. The talented swine!

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When I was offered the chance to write the iconic Gnasher & Gnipper I very nearly gnashed the Editor’s hand off, I’ve been writing most of the Gnasher strips for the past seven months for Beano legend Barrie Appleby. Seeing Barrie draw my scripts is like hearing The Beatles perform a song you’ve written.

Gnashed bits

Other highlights include writing Bash Street Kids for the legendary Dave Sutherland, Bea for Nigel Parkinson, a Grinch parody for the infuriatingly talented Laura Howell, as well as drawing puzzles featuring my all time favourite characters: Calamity James, Billy Whizz, Les Pretend, and Pup Parade.

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I also got to bring back Gnasher’s kids, Dennis’ pet spider Dasher, Walter’s pet poodle Foo Foo, make more obscure references to films than you could possibly imagine, draw Alex Matthews’ Nuke Noodle clothes-lining zombies, kill Jedward and – amazingly – bring The Dandy back from the dead…

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Next year you’ll read some of my writing in both The Beano & The Dandy Annual, which is easily the career highlight of any Beano artist or writer, but If I had to pick a current highlight, this would be it: Hunt Emerson’s Little Plum in my script of ‘The Guffalo’.

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© DC THOMSON 2014, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

So, as I return to a ‘real job’, I just want to say thank you to Craig, Mich, John & Mark at The Beano for all the work and help they’ve given me, to Steve Beckett, Wayne Thompson, Hunt Emerson and Lew Stringer for all their advice and support and to all the readers who’ve read my work over the past ten months.

And finally, to Sarah Trinder & Andy Fanton, without whom none of this would have happened.

See you in the funny pages and remember – everyone we know loves The Beano!

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Filed under Andy Fanton, Barrie Appleby, Bea, Billy Whizz, Calamity James, Comic Strips, Dave Sutherland, Dennis the Menace, Gnasher, Gnasher & Gnipper, Gnipper, Hunt Emerson, Lew Stringer, Little Plum, Madverts, Minnie the Minx, Pup Parade, Puzzle Pages, Roger the Dodger, The Bash Street Kids, The Beano, The BeanoMax, The Dandy, The Gruffalo, The Nibblers, Zombies

This week’s Beano is streets ahead!

It’s a bumper day for Beano fans, not only is there a brand new issue out, but Dundee Council have unveiled a street named after Beano Town’s most notorious avenue!

To celebrate 60 years of The Bash Street Kids, Dundee now has it’s very own Bash Street just a catapult shot away from the school which inspired the strip all those years ago. You can read more on the story HERE and see the Beano Ed and Bash Street Kids artist Dave Sutherland unveiling the street name HERE!

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This week’s issue is a fun packed as always, with the aforementioned Bash Street Kids giving their usual brand of silly sympathy when Teacher has a headache, Dennis The Menace takes on the internet trolls, Ball Boy takes to the air with the England squad, Minnie The Minx celebrates being given an extra page, Edd is fighting off the flu in The Numskulls, Calamity James has no idea when it comes to Ikea, you can’t teach an old Tripe Hound new tricks in Gnasher’s Tale, there’s a terrifying trip to the vet in Number 13, Wallace & Gromit are making a splash, Billy Whizz goes on a crash diet, Crow makes an over-ripe comeback in Bananaman, the writing is on the wall for Tricky Dicky, Chiefy’s got the chills in Little Plum, Dad is feeling sporty in Roger The Dodger and there’s more laughs with Grandpa, The Nibblers, Smudge, Karate Sid and Les Pretend!

Grab a menacing preview of this week’s issue HERE! There’s also a chance to win a radio controlled car by taking a survey about The Beano HERE!

This week also sees the debut of my second run of Minnie The Minx strips – How To Train Your Parents. This week, it’s how to get out of housework. Here’s a sneaky peeky, minus the text.

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All artwork is © DC Thomson 2014

The Beano issue 3723 is on sale now in all good newsagents, WH Smiths, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, The Co-op and they’ve got a couple of extra copies in this week at Winter Road News, Winter Road, Portsmouth.

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Filed under Billy Whizz, Calamity James, Dave Sutherland, Dennis the Menace, Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger, The Bash Street Kids, The Beano, The Nibblers

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost: Part 1

As It’s Halloween it seems like the perfect time to talk about ‘ghosting’. Though it sounds like some sordid thing involving ghoulies, in the comics world it usually refers to drawing in the style of someone else. Something that can be very hard to get right now that so many artists have their own style.

Aside from a few character cameos in Justin Beaver, my first proper ghosting work was It’s A Blunderful Life in The Dandy, which featured the World’s unluckiest boy, The Beano‘s Calamity James. James is one of the hardest characters to draw as Tom Paterson‘s intricate style is, like Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid‘s before him, extremely hard to recreate naturally. I gave it a good go, but Paterson’s manic lucidity still somewhat eluded me. It’s very much a character in his style sitting in a puzzle in my style.

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It’s A Blunderful Life: Calamity James & Alexander Lemming braving a festive failure.

A month or so ago I had another attempt at drawing a Paterson style James puzzle, and got much closer this time by spending a very long time image sourcing and pouring over his work. I found a whole strip set in space, as was the puzzle, and copied and adapted images from it to suit the puzzle. I’m very proud of the final piece, but I wouldn’t do it again. In fact I ditched another Calamity James puzzle, ‘Wheel Of Misfortune’, shortly after because I couldn’t face it!

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Intergalactic Idiot: Calamity James gets lost in space.

Ghosting is extremely hard to get right, there are some fantastic artists out there who can ghost with such accuracy that you can hardly tell it’s their work, but sometimes (as in Jamie Smart’s Roger The Dodger) it is best to ignore the original art style and draw your own. Drawing in another artists style can inhibit what you can do with a character, unless you are willing to take liberties (I always draw The Bash Street Kids in Baseball boots, as I simply can’t draw shoes like Dave Sutherland). The problem with Calamity James is that the art is so recognisable and weird that if you were to draw the character in any other way it just wouldn’t be Calamity James.

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Bash Street Kid: Danny wearing baseball boots in Canteen of Carnage from The BeanoMAX.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to drawn most of The Beano‘s familiar characters in puzzles over the past year, everyone from from Dennis The Menace to Little Plum. I can’t tell you what a thrill it has been getting to draw all my favourite childhood characters and having to ghost so many of my favourite artists. Some I found easier than others though, Dave Sutherland’s Bash Street Kids are fairly easy because you have 50 years of reference material to look at. Barrie Appleby’s Roger The Dodger was the hardest for me, due to his complicated shirt and hair.

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Beano Brawl: The Bash Street Kids, Calamity James, Billy Whizz, Minnie The Minx & Roger The Dodger take part in The Great Beano Pancake Bake Off from The BeanoMAX.

Ghosting is very much a skill, something I picked up from learning to draw by copying Jim Davis’ Garfield and later less successfully Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes. That’s essentially all it is. Copying. You can see clearly see both artist’s influences in this strip, A Bear Behind, from The Dandy.

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A Bear Behind: Background by Watterson, foreground by Davis.

Sadly I didn’t get to draw any of the big characters for The Dandy, aside from a few cameo appearances and repeated sightings of Phil Corbett’s Korky The Cat, which I’ll blog about another day. So when The Dandy ended and they asked me to do two strips for the final issue: Auntie Clockwise (originally by Wayne Thompson, who draws Bananaman for The Beano) and Hamish the Haggis Basher (originally a one-off strip by Tom Paterson) I thought was the last time I’d ever have the chance to draw Dandy characters.

Little did I know I’d be bringing back Desperate Dan just 10 months later…

Always keep a Dandy handy!

Always keep a Dandy handy!

The Halloween issue of The Beano is on sale from Wednesday 23rd October in WH Smiths, Sainsbury’s, Asda and all good newsagents, priced £2.

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Filed under A Bear Behind, Billy Whizz, Calamity James, Calvin & Hobbes, Comic Strips, Dave Sutherland, Dennis the Menace, Garfield, Ghosting, Halloween, Jamie Smart, Ken Reid, Leo Baxendale, Minnie the Minx, Puzzle Pages, Roger the Dodger, The Bash Street Kids, The Beano, The BeanoMax, The Dandy, Tom Paterson