Friday, 11 January 2013

A slightly delayed look at the last ever Dandy, Part 3 - who was missing!

Here we go, the reason this post was so long in producing. It's...

25 Dandy Characters Who Perhaps Should've Had A Place In The Top 75 Dandy Characters Ever

And that's shouting! Admittedly, this lot are mostly from 1988-2001 or thereabouts, but this is my list and those were my years for the Dandy.

So, in no particular order, here we go:

1-Cowrin' Wolf
David Mostyn's one of those rare folk who can draw anything he wants and make it hilarious. For Cowrin' Wolf, he already had a funny concept (a vegetarian wolf), and ran with it.

Also from Mostyn, Molly started out as a bad-tempered little girl, and quickly became the girl who had, nay, demanded everything - like a less (but sometimes more) extreme version of Viz's Spoilt Bastard.

3-Fiddle O'Diddle
A Tom Paterson creation (we all love those), concerning a cheeky leprechaun and the bumbling Muldoon who wishes to capture him.

4-Brain Duane
Perhaps Paterson's 2nd-greatest character after Calamity James, they don't come more manic or inventive than this.

5-Growing Paynes
The duelling brothers of Trevor Metcalfe, often sickly sweet and not usually funny, but it was in almost every issue I ever read as a nipper - so for almost ten years Percy and Peter shared a couple of minutes of my Saturdays. For that reason Growing Paynes deserves a place in this list.

6-Barney the Wonder Winger
Football's not really my "thing", and this is nowhere NEAR as good as the Beano's Ball Boy, but it's by Brian Walker and has a wonderful free-flowing feel to it due to the lack of panels and borders.

7-Sherman Tortoise
From John Geering, concerning a tortoise who's defended by his own personal army of insects that live in his shell. There's a great one of these somewhere in the archives that shows a Graham Bleathman-style cutaway plan of Sherman's shell, but this one'll do for now.

8-Spotted Dick
The comical happenings of an incredibly infectious, perpetually ill child, who is hospital-bound indefinitely. He started out in Hoot and joined the Dandy gang fifty-three weeks later. At first he was done by Barrie Appleby, mostly:

Gordon Bell had a bash at him as well, before Tom Paterson got to have a go:

I love the look of feigned excitement on Dick's face in the second panel! 

9-The Laughing Planet
More from Mr. Paterson here, with your host - David Chattenborough, who seeks out all the weird, wonderful of just plain nuts things that can be found on Earth.

More from the Laughing Planet can be found here and here.

Barrie Appleby likes drawing vicars. They're always seen in the background of Cuddles & Dimples (usually with their pants down), and here's Tristan, the vicar's son. Lots of church-based puns here, I'm assuming. You can tell by the larger font as was traditional for indicating puns for comic-folk back then.

And here's Barrie doing what he does best. The grandmother of Cuddles & Dimples, and the strip's just as wild and energetic - filled with his trademarks of chaotic spreads, winking characters, sadistic animals, vicars in a state of undress and large-bosoms.

12-I Hate Miss Eve L. Powers
Short space-filling strips by Jimmy Glen, about the most evil teacher on the planet (and therefore most hilarious).

13-James, the World's Worst School Boy
Initially by Jimmy Glen but later (and to my recent knowledge!) by a chap called Joey something. None of these strips make any sense, but they're a lot of fun to look at!

14-Billy Green and his Sister Jean
From when being environmentally conscious was a relatively new thing, and thus ideal for mirth-making opportunities in the comics. Drawn by Jim Petrie and filled with his trademark energy - just look out for Billy's eyeball takes!

15-Tumba and Rumba, the Mimicking Elephants
Ron Spencer's cute pair of curious pachiderms, who, as the title suggests, imitate everything they see.

16-Mutt and Moggy
When Puss an' Boots left Sparky, they joined the Topper. When that folded, they joined the Dandy but, for some reason, changed their names to Mutt and Moggy. Still as wild as ever, thanks to John Geering.

17-Lil Imp
The badly-behaved daughter of the Devil. LOOKS a bit like Tom Paterson's at a glance, but probably isn't. Hmmm.

18-Marty's Mouse
From Ken Harrison, and VERY similar to Harry and his Hippo - only this time the protagonist is unaware that his pet is a tad unusual.

The most despicable child to ever appear in the pages of the Dandy, and he's fantastic at it! Initially by Jim Petrie:

And revived a few years later by Nick Brennan, who made Sneaker considerably more evil!

20-Kylie Phizzog
ANOTHER from Tom Paterson (he was a very busy man for a very long time). This one's about a young girl with a knack for impressions.

21-Herb's History
John Geering puts his typically surreal spin on historical events.

From Nick Brennan, about a Bugs Bunny-esque "wise guy" frog who easily outwits the French chef and waiter who wish to cut off his legs.

More Paterson! He never stops giving. Rasper's just plain odd - a red-haired rascal in a romper suit with incredibly big lips and an even bigger tongue. Put me off my food on more than one occasion!

It's 'im! The Beano's face that sunk a thousand ships joined the Dandy in 1993 in an all-new serial adventure by Keith Robson. In these strips, a gypsy had given Jonah a magic earring which transformed him into a monster of a man. This allowed Robson to try out all sorts of Ken Reid-ish grotesqueries, and was a fitting tribute to the man while it lasted.

25-Squinty McPhee
And... One final bit from Tom Paterson, why not? A one-off ballad about a short-sighted steamroller driver. Enjoy!

And there we have it! It's doubtful we'll ever see a comic with such a huge variety of strange characters again (at least one drawn as well as this), and this lot only spans roughly 15% of the Dandy's lifetime!

So, for fun and education... Who do YOU think was missing from the final Dandy's list?


  1. Lots of Tom Paterson there! I'm also a huge fan, and I always try and spot the smelly sock in his stories!

    By the way, that Lil Imp strip definatly isn't by Tom.

    1. I didn't think it was either - it's only because I saw a post on Peter Gray's blog about Lil Imp which claims her to be a Tom Paterson thing, and Peter usually knows his stuff (just put "Lil Imp" into the search bar on his site).

      Any ideas who else it could be? At a stretch I MIGHT say Ron Spencer, but I'm really not very good at this sort of thing!

    2. I couldn't say. I can see why you think it's Ron, but agian I'm not sure. It could be Graham Exton, although I don't think he ever worked for Thomson....

    3. Tom did draw Lily Imp But this is a ghost artist in the stlye of Tom yours shows..

      Danny Long legs and Pobble should of been on the list..;0)

    4. Pobble's nuts! I really like everything I've read of that one, but couldn't find anything to scan (at least not in my collection).

    5. I'm almost certain this L'il Imp was drawn by Ken Harrison, who usually drew it, though Tom Paterson originated it.

    6. Yeah, comparing it to Harry and his Hippo, it looks that way...

  2. I got the distinct impression that the Dandy's official "top 75" was heavily biased towards characters created in-house and which they had expended the most effort on attempting to promote. Hence Jak and Todd, the comic's designated leading characters for six years, but who never represented anything more substantial than a distinct aftertaste of aggressive focus-grouping. That'd also be why Bad Grandad - created and written by the Dandy - got a two-page spread, while George vs Dragon - created and written by Andy Fanton, and somewhat more successful than Grandad at that - were passed over entirely. That, or they honestly thought that was a less significant strip than Hamish the Haggis-Basher...

    1. Spot on - that was my main gripe with the list. It was less like a celebration of the past 75 years, more of a portfolio for any other publishers who might want to hire the current artists.

      Meanwhile, George Vs. Dragon was based on a short-lived strip by Eric Wilkinson which appeared from 1988-1989 (or thereabouts).

    2. More than just the one strip, I think. It's not a very original concept!

  3. People who say the Dandy was "too cosy" would do well to grab some copies from the eighties and nineties. It did that kind of robust surrealism and big-hearted anarchy (if that's not a contradiction in terms!) that characterised DC Thomson at their best so well.
    Something about Li'l Imp makes me think it's Trevor Metcalfe ghosting Tom Paterson. As I mentioned on my blog, some of Metcalfe's characters have a Robert Nixon-ish look to them, so I assume he ghosted a few others along the way?

    1. The Beezer & Topper (combined!) from the 1990s is also worth reading - equally strange and manic characters with plenty of Bob Dewar included as well.

      The 1990s seem to be unfairly ignored by the historians, which is a bit of a shame.

  4. More Tom Paterson stuff makes the work that went into this post well worth it! It's been years since I've been able to read a Brain Duane or Fiidle O Diddle strip to ta muchly for that. Squinty McPhee too! Completely forgotten about by me but I remember reading it in whichever issue/annual it was in and loving it.

    Also, I always wondered when it came to the 'revived' that his hair or a hat? Doesn't look right either way really does it?!

    1. I THINK I remember Sneaker tipping his hat to someone once, and he had a little stalk of black hair underneath - but I may be imagining that.

      Tom Paterson, David Mostyn, Nick Brennan and Barrie Appleby were all VERY busy during this period, all doing at least two or three pages a week (and that's just in the Dandy!).

  5. George vs Dragon wasn't based on the earlier George and the Dragon strip - Andy coincidentally used the public domain character of St George without knowing that the Dandy had used it before.

    Mutt and Moggy appeared in the Dandy while the Beezer and Topper still existed - that's the reason for the name change. They were switched to Puss N Boots later in the 90s after that comic folded.

  6. Barney Boko!
    (OK, he was in the reprint of #1, but there should have been more.)
    Flippy the Sea-Serpent!

    1. Never seen Flippy the Sea-Serpent before, but I love it! That's a nice Tumblr by the way - is it yours?

    2. Yes, that's my Tumblr, thank you.
      I found your blog from a link at Lew Stringer's and, judging by some of the things I've spotted in your tag-cloud, I reckon it looks plenty interesting. All sorts of gleeful treats to distract me from the freezing weather outside.
      Tom Paterson? Bob Clampett? Harvey Kurtzman? Sid Burgon? Dudley Watkins? Steve Bell? Dave Fleischer?
      ...Yes please!
      Nice one.

  7. You can keep Cuddles and Dimple's mum, it was always Barney's sister that gave me unfamiliar yet interesting feelings. Ahem.

    My brother used to get The Dandy, but I'd always read it after him. I'd forgotten a lot of these characters, but they were great! If only the 2010 "turning it back into a comic again" revamp had used some of them...

    I always used to think the little one in Growing Paynes was a girl , for some reason.

    1. Barney's sister, wow!

      Maybe a Dandy Pin-Up Collection's in order...

  8. I'm surprised no one has recognised Lil' Imp as Ken Harrison's work here. It's extremely obvious in everything from the eyes to the builds to the lettering!

    Lil' Imp was usually by Tom Paterson - this is just Ken Harrison ghosting and doing a marvellous job at it!

    - Harry