31 December 2021

In Beanotown

Mark Sinker

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules consists of pages and tales from the comic’s eight decades, loosely organised into themes, along with work by some forty non-Beano artists that amplifies its characters, motifs and slapstick. Horace Panter (formerly the bass player in the Specials) has Dennis the Menace and Gnasher diving into David Hockney’s swimming pool.

12 March 2015

‘L’Arabe du futur’

Ursula Lindsey

Riad Sattouf’s father travelled from a small Syrian village to Paris in the 1970s. He met Sattouf’s French mother at university there. After they graduated and their son was born, the family went first to Libya under Gaddafi and then to Syria under Assad. L’Arabe du futur, Sattouf’s autobiographical graphic novel, tells of his strange childhood spent in the shadow of Arab dictators and his father’s delusions. Two more volumes are forthcoming, and an English translation is under way.

6 November 2013

Ersatz Asterix

Thomas Jones

The 24th and last canonical Asterix book – which is to say, the last one written by René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo – was Asterix in Belgium (1979). Goscinny died in 1977, soon after he'd finished writing it, and the publishers had to take Uderzo to court to get him to do the pictures.

2 July 2013

Jesus v. Wolverine

Nick Richardson

Has Jesus got what it takes to join the X-Men? He has no shortage of superpowers, though a lot of them are one-offs: walking on water, turning water into wine, turning a few fish into a lot of fish. Probably the closest he has to a signature gift is healing the sick; but Wolverine can do that too, and Wolverine has adamantium claws.

2 January 2013

Izzy Skint?

Nick Richardson · The Dandy

When I was a kid the Beano and the Dandy were like cats and dogs: you liked one or the other and your preference reflected your personality. I was a Beano fan. The difference between Dandy and Beano fans, I imagined, was the same as the difference between the comics’ two lead characters, Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace. The Beano’s Menace was a mischievous – in retrospect, borderline psychotic – schoolboy with knobbly knees, a soot-coloured mongrel called Gnasher and a catapult, which he’d use against his wispy arch-enemy, Walter the Softie. He was cunning, cool and funny. Dan was an oaf: a portly cowboy with a square jaw and an indefatigable appetite for ‘cow pie’ – whole cows, baked in pies, with the tails dangling over the edge of the crust. He didn’t want to menace, he wanted to help, but kept causing disaster by misjudging his strength. Here’s a typical Dan storyline: a group of boys are trying to sail model boats on a lake, but there’s not enough wind. Dan comes along and blows into the sails, but blows too hard and wrecks the boats. By way of apology, he turns his body into a boat by wrenching the paddle wheel off a steamer, tearing up a streetlamp to use as a mast, and attaching them to his corpulent figure.

4 July 2012

'Great Changes after the Liberation'

Nick Holdstock

In 1950 the Chinese Communist Party published a comic called 'Great Changes after the Liberation'. Its aim was to ‘awaken people’s disgust toward imperialists and counter-revolutionaries’ by contrasting the inequalities of pre-Liberation China with the promises of the new regime. The comic was recently posted on Weibo [Nick: isn’t Weibo like Twitter? In what way was the comic posted on it?], and generated a lot of online discussion before its removal. Though some of its predictions have come true, such as the rise of the renminbi against the dollar and the need for foreigners to obey the law, plenty of people pointed out the similarities between China now and before 1949.

11 June 2012

Tintin in China

Louis Mackay

In his recent piece on Hergé in the LRB, Christopher Tayler notes the influence on Tintin’s creator of a Chinese artist, Zhang Chongren, whom he met in 1934, as he was starting work on The Blue Lotus.