Aw yeah! We are carrying on our 80th birthday celebrations for The Beano. Last week we looked at the very first issue from 1938, now we leap ahead to December 1945, the second world war is over and Beano sales hit one million copies for the first time. In fact, if the printing presses would have allowed it DC Thomson would have sold much more, but here we are.
At this point, due to paper shortages, The Beano was fortnightly, alternating weeks with The Dandy, it is also a mere 12 pages long, the smallest the comic will ever be.
Edit: A kind reader points out that there was a time when The Beano shrunk even further. They assure me that it briefly went down to 10 pages between 1947 to 1948, and I see no reason to doubt them.
So we start, as always with the cover. Big Eggo is still the cover, despite how boring he is. This fortnight he is thwarting a hot air balloon disaster. I don't care.
Page two has three strips, starting with a clever bird called Cocky Dick (no sniggering at the back) "he's smart and slick". He needn't trouble us.
Below that is Good King Coke (He's stoney broke) who is playing association football. His rubbish performance in goal leads to him producing a statue of him squatting so that the angry fans can kick it up the jacksy. It's... well it's confusing.
And rounding out this page is The Magic Lollipops (suck 'em and see). We have covered this strip before but suffice to say, a rude man who steals from a child gets his comeuppance.
The lolly shrinks his head so his titfer no longer fits.
Page three brings us the joy of Lord Snooty, having winter fun building snowmen. A bunch of grumpy adults try to tear them down but our pals win through with the aid of marble sculptures. Slap up Christmas feasts all round.
Two page picture strip Jimmy and his Magic Patch comes next, a long-running adventure serial about a boy with a patch on his trousers that enable him to travel through time. Which is pretty good. (Readers of a certain age might remember Tommy's Magic Time Trousers from Round the Bend which was a direct parody)
As we join our story already in progress, Jimmy is an indentured serf, forced to turn a giant mechanical wheel. At the end of the tale, he chides a rodent in a pet shop.
Prose story Tick Tock Timothy is next, a two -pager and one of only two prose stories in the issue.
Timothy is a mechanical marvel, a clockwork toy that might as well be an android. He may need winding up but he responds to Mary's every command. In this episode he even seems to get angry at the cruel blacksmith who has stolen him.
The ongoing adventure quest is to bring back Peggy's remarkable toy-maker father, kidnapped by a jealous king. It's pretty well written and I'd like to know more.
Page two of the story also contains this delightful ad for the next issue.
Next comes the continuing adventures of Tom Thumb.
He has evolved from the prose story he had in issue #1 to a picture strip. He also has gained a tiny friend called Tinkel who appears to be some sort of ethnic caricature but I'm not sure.
An encounter with a bully leads our heroes to a Pickle Rick sewer adventure before ending up in the sea!
One page prose story The Wangles of Granny Green is, I'm delighted to say, still appearing.
The adventures of a boy who pretends to be his own grandmother, a scheme first concocted in issue #1, this week he/she tricks some swots into dropping through thin ice! This seems a particularly dangerous form of vengeance, but whatever.
Another survivor from issue #1 is Rip Van Wink (he's 700 years old). He appears to now be working as an errand boy and has moved from picture story to full comic strip.
An hilarious misunderstanding leads to him digging up a small tree and taking its "short root" through the park (geddit?).
Hairy Dan also survives, though now noticeably more cartoonish. Which I like.
Little Nell and Peter Pell are newcomers, a simple strip of a little girl with a pet pelican.
And just like that we find ourselves on the back page already. Tin Can Tommy is still there, as he was in issue #1, now cut down to half the page. Also now full comic strip, Tommy also appears to have gained a robot brother and a robot cat called Clanky. Whatever became of the parents from our previous look I do not know.
Anyway, the boys are teasing the cat who gets its own back on them by disguising soap bars as chocolate.
But.... they're robots!
Do they normally eat? Do they need to? It throws up so many questions I will never see answered!
And finishing off the issue is another long-running popular character: Pansy Potter, the Strongman's Daughter.
The supernaturally strong little girl was created in 1938 by Hugh McNeill and has had various revivals over the years (including a run in Sparky).
It's a welcome little anarchic burst that seems to prefigure the way the comic will lean as it goes into the 1950s
And that, faithful reader, is that.
An all to brief jaunt into the world of austerity Britain, The Beano still holds its head up as the standard bearer of UK comics.
Next time we shall venture into the 1950s as we see the million-dollar debut of a certain schoolboy...