The Beano #422
Medium: comic
Year: 19 August 1950
Country: UK
Keywords: The Beano, UK kiddie comic
Format: 12 pages
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 6 January 2021
There's no significance in randomly choosing issue #422. I've been buying some random issues on Ebay.
Compared with issue #1, it's lighter and feels less dry. (It's shorter, for a start, so reading it is less like hard work.) It's still two-thirds adventure serials, but half of those are in illustrated-panel format and the text stories all have a gag strip at the bottom of their second page.
It's also funnier. Issue #1 makes you feel like an alien asking "what is this Earth thing called humour?" 1938 was another era. This, on the other hand, is fun. What it's not yet, though, is anarchic, despite the screaming nightmare that is Pansy Potter. Dennis and Gnasher started in 1951, while Lord Snooty's on a break.
Biffo the Bear (1948-99, by Dudley D. Watkins) = the cover star, with Big Eggo merely standing next to the masthead. He's one of the Beano's long-runners, with over fifty years of strips... but I never used to see the point of Biffo. Here, though, he works. It's a gentler age. He buys a savage watchdog, but it's scared of its own shadow. Using soap, he makes it foam at the mouth. "I must be a fierce dog after all!"
Have-A-Go Joe (1949-51, by Bill Holroyd) = has super-strength (as is common in comics) and is a good-natured but dopey goofball. I quite liked him. "Do or die - he'll have a try!"
The Magic Lollipops (1941-51, by Allan Morley) = an innuendo opportunity. Get your mouth around them and it's magic. "Suck 'em and see!" (Morley also created Sammy's Super Rubber, while Holroyd created Wandering Willie.) This strip's nameless hero has a bag of lollipops that do anything the sucker wants. Here, they make a criminal run backwards into the arms of the policeman who's chasing him. Very odd.
Incidentally, both of these are half-page strips... with nine panels. (Today, that would be a full page.) They're both proper (if simple) comics stories, whereas the 1938 Beano included the equivalent of lots of four-panel newspaper strips.
Ding-Dong Belle (1949-51, by Bill Holroyd) = pretty cool. She's the tough, gun-toting sheriff of Cactusville, the home of Desperate Dan. However she's also a dumpy old lady, probably someone's granny, and she believes in good manners. I liked her a lot. "Stick 'em up, you - and stop making balloons with that bubble-gum when I'm speaking to you!"
Here, she shoots her way out of magic bubble gum.
Maxy's Taxi (1947, by George Drysdale) = a bottom-of-the-page quickie, but with a funny visual gag. The taxi's a pre-war model, incidentally, so it was an antique even in 1947.
Sammy's Super Rubber (1950-51) = the revered Allan Morley's last Beano strip. DC Thompson once said that their comics might close without him, but his style belongs to an earlier era. (Sammy's Super Rubber looks more of a period piece than The Magic Lollipops, mind you, because the latter's been coloured.) Sammy's rubber makes things invisible. I'd call it surreal rather than funny.
Finally, the back page has Pansy Potter in Wonderland, aka. the Strong Man's Daughter. (She appeared intermittently in 1938-2014 and in other magazines, created by Hugh McNeill.) Yup, another character with super-strength. This, though, was a strange period when she lived in a world of nursery rhyme characters. She's friends with See Saw Margery Daw, but Jack-in-the-Box wants to make trouble. Don't be Jack. WHAT THE HELL DOES SHE DO TO HIM??? Pansy waits until he's grabbed a fairground electric shock machine, then pulls his feet and stretches him like rubber until he's about five metres tall. "Ha! Ha! He can't let go the handles until the current is switched off!"
She then rolls him into a ball, bounces him on the ground and posts him through his own letter box.
These are also better than in 1938. I wouldn't have minded reading these every week. They've all got a cool gimmick.
Deep Sea Danny's Iron Fish stars a boy and his evil-looking robot submarine. Danny meets some South Pacific natives with regrettable speech patterns. "Me want nothing. Me see big fish drifting on reef and hurry out plenty quick. This fine canoe!" Oh dear. That aside, though, this is a good, exciting story that even has a cliffhanger ending. A sullen, jealous bastard throws a boy to sharks.
The Iron Fish looks cool too. This serial was still running in the 1980s, albeit in a different magazine.
Jack Flash (1949-58) is a flying boy from the planet Mercury. Here, he plays golf. That's surprisingly fun, thanks to some obnoxious jerks showing up.
Ting-a-ling Bill (1950) is another Wild West series. Cowboys, sheriffs, horse-thieves, etc... and Bill himself, an ape with super-strength. He tore down a prison door because he wanted a bell. "Ting-a-ling" is its sound.
Finally, there's Jimmy and his Magic Patch (1944-1959). It's on his shorts and it lets him time travel. "Jimmy Watson was as happy as a dog with two tails." He visits George Stephenson and his train that goes at the breakneck speed of ten miles per hour! Unfortunately, some coachmen mean mischief. They want to protect their trade!
That was a good magazine. Simple and short, but good. Some of these characters are worth reviving, e.g. Ding-Dong Belle, Pansy Potter and maybe some of the text adventure heroes. If I'd been a child in 1950, I'd have read this.