Everything Beezer & Dandy?


Posted by in July's Magazine

Shakespeare was wrong, the world isn’t a stage it’s a comic book. According to Colin Montgomery at least

Tired of the cynicism? Tired of the funeral rites that pass for news these days? Tired of the endless whining from chippy commentators like yours truly? Worry not folks, because the truth is, this rotten bloated corpse we call reality is actually a jolly comic! 

Yes, with Billy Bunter’s psychopathic dorm mate about to boing his way into No.10 (I hate using his pet nickname, he’s always been De Pfeffel to me) perhaps we should accept this whole perverse experiment is being drawn in a garret in Dundee. I for one, would be delighted…

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Back in oh… 1981 or so, comics were hard currency round my way. A mint copy of Nutty, Cor or The Beezer could keep you in Chelsea whoppers for a month. Lucky enough to own a summer special of a Beano, Dandy or Topper? Well, you could be in Soor Plooms until your gums burnt through. 

BTW, if this is unintelligible to anyone under 40, then I’m sorry – you’ll need to get an adult to translate. For the language of comics and comic collecting is admittedly somewhat arcane. Tell you what here’s a quick primer for Generation Digital.

Believe it or not, before phones, kids used to read things called comics. Or at the very least, we looked at the pictures. These marvels were printed on paper that let inky marks on your fingers, especially if you’d been fingering a bag of Wotsits as you GUFFAWed, CHORTLEd, YUKKA’d and ARFed your way through them. 

They’d been around for years before I got hooked – I guess you could trace the lineage back to the Victorian Penny Dreadfuls – and some will be reading this black affronted that a young scamp of a mere 46 years like me should be holding forth on this most revered of pop culture topics. But sod them. This is my comic strip. 

For me, the weekly chuckle pamphlets were a kind of ration, doled out in lieu of pocket money by my Grandad (or Papa as we knew him). Sure, I could use my pennies to buy them down RS McColls – and I did. But there was something special about rocking up for our weekly visit to my grandparents and being presented with a fresh copy of, say… Nutty, with Bananaman proudly leading the charge. 

My brother on the other hand was initially the recipient of a copy of Warlord, Victor or Tiger (Billy’s Boots being the icon from the latter). Soon, mainlining post-war jingoism as the UK huffed and puffed its way through the 70s proved a bore though, and he graduated on to a pure hit of Roy of the Rovers every week. He struggled with that Rovers habit. I believe he went cold turkey after a time, with the methadone replacement that was the occasional copy of Scoop or Scorcher his only sustenance. 

Me on the other hand… I was by this time, earning a reputation as the Escobar of the Dundonian Laughing Powder, dealing in comics with my schoolmates, from a stash I kept in a big old wicker shopping bag, fit to burst. For a time, nothing could touch me. 

Then came the sweaty, spotty fever dream that was full-blown adolescence. And the simple pleasures of the comic were replaced by furtive forays into the woods near the house to salvage tattered copies of Escort or Razzle. I shudder to think how easily we dismissed the filthy legacy we ‘inherited’. 

Stuck down pages. Tatters and splatters. Sylvan anatomy lessons. But that’s what the prospect of hard-on will do to an impressionable lad. The innocent hijinks of neighbourhood rascals noising up the local butcher, teacher or park attendant seemed just a distant memory. Inky fingers became preoccupied with other stuff…

I was earning a reputation as the Pablo Escobar of Dundonian Laughing Powder, dealing in comics with my schoolmates from a stash in a wicker basket

Imagine my delight then, when slumped over a pint again, bemoaning the state of the world (shout out to my long-suffering partner; God knows how she puts up with it), I had an epiphany. It struck me that as opposed to being trapped inside the belly of the beast that slouches towards Bethlehem we are in fact, cocooned inside the neatly boxed off world of speech bubbles, zooms, yoicks and other assorted japes, capers and larfs. Yeah, this is surely some kind of cartoon. Because how else to explain the lunacy that grips us?

Naughty public schoolboys: hilariously coiffured bullies; yah boo sucks public debate; lovable rogues and scamps winding up the public and getting away with it all; perhaps the odd full-blown scrap on social media with metaphorical fists emerging from the dust cloud; then a slap-up meal at the end of it (shared on Instagram of course) to make amends. 

It would be funny if it weren’t true. Regrettably the last laugh is likely to be on us. Our chaotic spree of menace has kicked the arse out of the neighbourhood. And I regret to say that a good slippering awaits, best roll up this particular comic and stuff it down your trousers. 

Bye readers.

One response to “Everything Beezer & Dandy?”

  1. Thank you for sharing the nice news. I'm glad to find it here.

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