Friday, 2 November 2018

The Beano #2280: Living in the 80s with a killing joke

And awaaaaay we go one more time into Beano history.

We have been celebrating 80 years of The Beano this year and reviewing issues from its history based on reprints from this boxed set from DC Thomson.

The issues so far have been from 1938194519511960, and 1976. Go and read them if you want. Or not. I can't make you. I mean, it would be polite but whatever. You break my heart if that's who you are.

This time, for the first time in this series, we are looking at an issue I actually owned as a child. Presenting The Beano #2280 from 1986.
This is the issue after Dennis' faithful companion Gnasher went missing and is the start of the national Gnational search that gained much media attention at the time. We have covered the full story here at Slipper Towers before so if you want the full story have a look here

We won't go into detail on that again, suffice to say at this point the Menace household is feeling the loss but we end on this panel:
Spoiler: it's Mike Read, then host of the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show and future UKIP-supporting Chevy Chase botherer. Mike Read has beautiful breath.

So, on to stuff we have not covered before as we venture inside.

Page 2 gives us a Bash Street Kid in his own spin-off strip: Simply Smiffy.
An easily-forgotten strip by Jerry Swaffield, it featured Smiffy's exasperated brother Normal Norman dealing with the constant disasters as Smiffy always gets things wrong. I am interested in the rarely-seen relatives of Beano characters and am the kind of nerd who wonders which ones are canon.

Ian McDiarmid's Roger the Dodger is next with a brief lesson in gender normatives.
Roger assumed he wouldn't have to learn cooking because of his genitals but has to come up with a wheeze to get out of it instead.
It doesn't go well.

Then-popular TV show 100 Great Sporting Moments provides Minnie the Minx with this week's mischief.
Love Jim Petrie's faces.
Minnie goes about causing chaos as usual.
Then talks directly to the artist.
It inevitably ends with a slipper.
Lord Snooty next and Snitch and Snatch are playing spacemen.
Then Ball Boy has his game delayed by the parkie.
It's worth pointing out Benji, who played on the team and is generally depicted as BB's closest friend, was one of a very small number of non-Caucasian British comics characters of the time.
Time for the letters' page and we finally get an answer to the question of how old Dennis is.
I said it was AN answer.

Dennis' pet pig Rasher got his own spin-off strip in 1984, also drawn by David Sutherland. It ran till 1984.
Sutherland's Bash Street Kids still dominate the middle pages.
Danny has come up with the funniest joke in the world and is whispering it to everyone.
I love the faces Sutherland draws in this story. Look at Fatty's spit-take:
And here's our first look at Winston, the Janitor's cat.
Danny is sent to the Head's office where he gets out by telling Head the joke.
That power should not be wielded lightly...
Ivy the Terrible next, a tearaway four-year-old with ambitions to be the next Dennis or Minnie.
Created by Robert Nixon in 1985, he continued drawing it until his death in 2002.

Billy Whizz is doing some housework.
Smudge "the scruffiest boy in town and proud of it!" is another 80s newcomer, created in 1980 by John Geering.
I love Geering's work and his frequent fourth-wall breaking characters. Look at this poor child's horrified plea to the reader before he leans on the panel border.
Pup Parade with the Bash Street Pups continues, although it would move to The Topper in 1989.
It's still just Bones and Sniffy in this story.

"Baby-Face" Finlayson has relocated from the old West to modern-day Britain. Somehow. Let's not question it. 

This week he raids a supermarket.
But you can take the bandit out of the old West...
For most of the 80s he'd stopped being "The cutest bandit in the West" and was now "The cutest bandit around". In the final strip of this run he tries to kidnap the Beano editor and is posted back to America as punishment.

Little Plum, however, remains firmly in a Western setting.
...Not that you'd know it from the illustration, but it is.

Biffo the Bear persists. Here he is at his occasional day job as zookeeper, somewhat exploiting his charges.
Tom and Dick are still being bested by little sister Sally in the strip Tom, Dick and Sally.
On the next page, ordinarily, would have been Gnasher's Tale, where Gnasher reflects on his younger days....
However... Gnasher has gone missing! So, for the second time, Gnasher's Tale is replaced with...
Foo-Foo! A tale told by Walter the Softy's poodle!

Wait a moment. Something has changed... I'm sure the last time we looked at this period of Beano history it had a different title...
That was it! I guess this change in the reprint shows that DC Thomson have acknowledged the implicit homophobia in a lot of the language used to describe "softies".

(Yes, I have mentioned before about homophobia in Dennis.)

Anyway, this week we see how Foo-Foo first met Gnasher at a doggy birthday party:
It's again drawn by Sutherland and as I failed to mention it last time, I'll add that I really like the design of the younger versions of Dennis and Walter. And that takes Sutherland page total this issue up to 6. And I remind you that he is still drawing The Bash Street Kids today, after 57 years! I wish I had his work ethic.

So that rounds out the issue and ends our visit to the 80s.

Come back next time for our 90s issue.

What will it be?

Seriously, what? There isn't a 90s reprint in the boxed set so I'm not sure...


  1. I remember all of this... Except Tom, dick, and Sally. No memory at all. And looking at this small snippet, I can't help but feel that's a defence mechanism by my brain.

    1. Yeah, that was a totally forgettable strip. Ran for years though, check the previous blog.

    2. I remember a TD+S strip where Tom became captain of the football team, but was made to jump rope earlier in the day by Sally, so got annoyed when Dick congratulated him on his appointment, as he inadvertently called him "Skipper"

    3. Funny the stuff that lives in your brain forever, innit?

  2. Biffo the Bear levels of shenanigans there then.