Monday, 22 October 2012

The Beano annual 1972

I've rather unfairly been ignoring the Beano, focussing more on true boys comics rather than titles that appealed to both boys and girls. But, with the new annuals in the shops now, i thought i'd have a return to when i was 10 with this edition. When talking Beano, there was always a bunch of strips that i read, but didn't really enjoy: Minnie The Minx, Dennis The Menace, Roger The Dodger, Lord Snooty, Biffo The Bear. Then there were strips i enjoyed, but instantly forgot: Pup Parade, Little Plum, Bash St Kids. And then there were those that i adored and read over and over again: The Three Bears. Total and utter genius in just a few pages and it didn't matter that the scheme was always the same - it was like Tom & Jerry cartoons, you know how its going to pan out but the joy was going along for the ride to get there. Here we have the usual extravagance of the time, devoting two whole pages of the annual just to have the Three Bears welcoming the readers:
There's two tales of the Bears here, with exactly the same plot,them trying to break into Hank's store while he's away. The second tale has a happy Crimbo ending and, was it just me, but didn't a slap-up feast in comics always look SO much better than any amount of food served up in our real world?
The other tale i adored was Billy The Cat. Here i had weekly superhero adventures, so much different to the American reprints i was ingesting - characters, locations and set-ups that i could relate to much more than the likes of Marvel and DC were giving me. I could actually BE Billy - just needed a crash helmet, black togs, rucksack and be good at sports. I thought. Billys two tales here are a bit of an oddity. After another unnecessary, but brilliant opening page:
We start with Billy talking directly to us readers from the comfort of his deck chair, letting us know about his latest exploit of stopping a burglar and sorting out "five toughs". When he's done with that, he lets us know he'll have another tale for us after the next two pages - which are given over to a Billy The Cat drawing guide:
He's back to let us know how he'd mistaken a Fire Brigade house fire simulation and rescued a dummy. Two real light tales, with very light art - there's an awful lot of blank, white spaces in those panels, but it works a treat with the stories. Great Stuff. "AIEEEE!" WATCH: Not suprisingly, none.


Peter Gray said...

I also liked it when two pages were taken up with one large picture...the Dandy did some great ones like this..
The new Beano annual should do the same..

S.Johnson said...

I remember this annual vividly.. especially the Billy the Cat strip. If I recall, the story ends with William who is resting on his deckchair after a hard day's crimefighting (pausing only to eat a banana for lunch at the top of a church spire...)being beratted by one of his 'pals' for being such a lazybones...

S.Johnson said...

.... plus wasn't there a 'draw Billy the Cat' feature in the middle of this strip?

Mangamax said...

Yup, you've got it exactly right - Billy's friend calls over the garden fence to him that he should get out the deckchair and do something useful.
At which point Billy turns to us and proves that he's no slouch.
And, again, you're right about the drawing feature - a two page interuption, first page a drawing of Billy, second the grid to help you recreate it.
Well remembered that man!

S.Johnson said...

Hardly surprising I remembered, I used to love the BTC strip. I'm not sure why, maybe it was the fact that here was a British 'superhero'..(I was aware of Batman by the time I first saw 'Billy', but no other 'superheroes) though I wouldn't have rationalised it in that way I'm sure. My favorite story was one from maybe the 1970 or '71 annual, in which Billy foiled a gang of crooks who stole arms from a military base. I always liked the art on the strip, the artist often included a shop called 'The Spinning Wheel' or something like that into the backgrounds whenever he drew Burnham city center, I used to wonder if it was a real place.