Category Archives: The BeanoMax

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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BakingDad

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…

LivingDandy

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’.

Guffalo

© 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!

pRINCE

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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

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost: Part 2

It’s no secret that Nuke Noodle, Alex Matthews‘ time travelling wrestler, was and is my favourite Dandy character.

For me Nuke was the funniest and most consistently inventive strip in The Dandy and clothes-lined his way into my top ten favourite cartoon characters over the course of his brief year in print. Nuke traveled through time, space, literature and even The Beezer, smashing and bashing through every strip with a bizarrely hilarious lack of interest in following the rules of narrative and any making any semblance of sense at all – I could easily fill the entire internet with nothing but love for this crazy strip, (and when I run out of stuff to write about in about a month or so, I probably will).

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Nuked: The Twitter icon I used for my short-lived Nuke Noodle Twitter account, which was just quotes from the comic. It ran for 4 months. I closed it on New Years Day 2013.

I had managed to crowbar Nuke in to the final strip of Barbarian Librarian in which the titular librarian had been fired for using excessive violence to administer library fines, I really drew it just so I could say I’d drawn him in The Dandy and to hopefully springboard a conversation with Alex about the character. I’m still just a fanboy at heart.

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Final & Dandy: The final Librarian Babarian strip, which features Nuke Noodle as his replacement.

I was pleased to be able to legitimately sneak him in to Auntie Clockwise in the last Dandy alongside Bill & Ted, The Beano’s Tim Traveller, Doctor Who and Doc & Marty from the film Back To The Future!

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Auntie Social Behavior: Auntie Clockwise gets lost in the circuits of time in the last ever print copy of The Dandy.

I’m not sure how another artist feels when he sees his characters drawn by someone else, having never experienced it myself, but Alex seemed to like it. When I asked Phil Corbett what he thought of my inclusion of his Korky in a Beano puzzle he told me he loved me. So I guess he was pleased/sick of me pestering him.

I drew Nuke because, like Korky, I liked the character and I enjoy drawing in the artist’s style. Sometimes working for The Beano just feels like getting paid to produce fan art, but when you’re ‘borrowing’ other peoples characters it often feels like sneaking into their house while they’re sleeping and using all their stuff.

Which I also do regularly.

Jamie Smart has a very nice dog. Andrew Fanton needs to run a hoover round once in a while. Nigel Parkinson is out of milk.

Anyhoo, a few weeks ago I was working on a daft Halloween puzzle called ‘Wrestlers Vs Zombies’ and I just couldn’t make it work. The wrestlers all looked like superheros and it just wasn’t very funny. I keep the Nuke Noodle anthology from Dennis The Menace Megazine by my desk, so I started to thumb trough it for wrestler-based inspiration. I ended up reading it cover to cover!

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Slamthology: The cover of Alex Mathews’ Nuke Noodle anthology from Dennis The Menace Megazine.

Then it hit me, just because he’s a Dandy character, doesn’t mean he can’t appear in The Beano! After all, Bananaman started life in Nutty, moved to The Dandy and now he’s in The Beano! So I got to bring back Nuke, alongside a couple of other brain-bashing Beano characters, for one last round in the ring…

NukeReturns

That, I thought, was definitely the last time I’d get a chance to draw a Dandy character, aside from occasionally sneaking a very lost Korky The Cat in to the odd puzzle page…

So I was surprised to learn that I’d be using my ghosting skills to bring 7 more of the most popular Dandy characters “back from the dead” in a one off appearance rather fittingly in the Halloween issue of The Beano

Always keep a Dandy handy!

Always keep a Dandy handy!

The Halloween issue of The Beano is on sale today, Wednesday 23rd October, in WH Smiths, Sainsbury’s, Asda and all good newsagents, priced £2. The Wrestlers Vs Zombies puzzle will be in a future issue.

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Filed under Alexander Matthews, Comic Strips, Ghosting, Halloween, Nuke Noodle, Puzzle Pages, The Beano, The BeanoMax, The Dandy

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