The Dandy Book 1985
Medium: comic, book
Year: 1984
Country: UK
Keywords: The Dandy, UK kiddie comic
Format: 142 pages
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 22 January 2021
THE JOCKS AND THE GEORDIES (1975, 19 pages) and BULLY BEEF AND CHIPS (1967, 6 pages) = holy shit. Both of these are incredibly violent long-running strips by Jimmy Hughes. (He's not the most sophisticated artist, but I quite like his work. He gives Bully Beef a disturbingly pert bottom, though.) Anyway, all these stories have incessant gratuitous physical abuse until the abuser eventually gets a violent comeuppance. The only difference is that Chips is innocent and Bully Beef is always evil, whereas the Jocks and the Geordies are egalitarian. They take turns at being the bullies. (It's quite an interesting dynamic, actually.)
"Famous Jocks/Geordies From The Past" involve fatalities. Geordies get fed to sharks, scalped and led hypnotised to Lover's Leap (269 feet), while half the Jock clan gets poisoned by Count Geordie Borgia. The dialogue can also cross a line at times, although I was amused by the Jocks repeatedly calling the Geordies "rotters".
DINAH MO (1983, Ron Spencer, 6 pages) = delightfully ugly, but also flat-out malicious. A violent, troublemaking anti-hero in the tradition of Dennis the Menace.
DUMB BELLE (1979, Jan Sitek, 3 pages) = lame writing, but funny art. Belle makes trouble by accident because she's stupid... but I love how she looks.
ROLLO (10 pages) and JACK SILVER (10 pages) are non-comedic adventure stories about child heroes who foil crooks. Rollo is basically a ballet strip, but the protagonist's male and so his sport is roller skating. Meanwhile, Jack Silver is SF with spaceships, alien planets, swoophounds, rust beetles, hypnosis, laser cannons and (I think) a water pistol. Surprisingly, they're both quite good.
BRASSNECK (10 pages) and WINKER WATSON (9 pages) are similar in length, but tipping further into the comedic and/or cartoonish. I love Winker Watson, but I prefer Eric Roberts's 1960s art. (What we have here is very similar, but less scratchy.) Similarly, with Brassneck, I love the character but prefer Bill Holroyd's 1960s art. He's such a goofy-looking robot that it's pure gold to see him in a realistically drawn strip, but he gets less and less interesting as the art gets sillier. He's still okay here, though.
Then, finally, PETER'S POCKET GRANDPA (1975, Ron Spencer, 7 pages) is brilliant because of the grandson's name. "Peter Parker's Grandpa came off worst when he had an argument with a gipsy. The gipsy used a strange power to shrink Grandpa to midget size." Yes, that's right. It's Spider-Man. The actual story's forgettable, but never mind. (The Dandy had previously had a similar strip called Jimmy's Pocket Grandpa.)
HARRY AND HIS HIPPO (1979, Ken H. Harrison, 7 pages) = the title tells you everything you need to know about this one. It's sort of okay, although the hippo itself is adorably gummy-mouthed. It looks like someone's granny.
DESPERATE DAWG (1973, George Martin, 4 pages) = openly a copy of Desperate Dan, but more cartoonish and with everyone a dog. If pushed, I might decide that I preferred this canine version.
DESPERATE DAN (1937, here by Ken H. Harrison, 21 pages) = they're okay. I read them placidly enough. Dan causes no end of damage, including a European holiday where he smashes so many famous landmarks that it's eventually revealed to be a dream. He also nearly kills a circus performer.
FROGVILLE TENNESSEE (6 pages) = a light-hearted Western where everyone's an animal. Frogs keep thinking it's funny that a vulture's trying to eat them.
KORKY THE CAT (4 pages) = yes, he's still here. He doesn't really fit the house style any more, but I don't mind him.
THE SMASHER (4 pages) = yeah, him too. Natsuki thought this actually was Dennis the Menace and I had to explain that they're different characters. (The Smasher has a checked top.)
THE BURRD (4 pages), MICKY THE MOUTH (4 pages), SCREWY DRIVER (1 page) and TOM TUM (1 page) = are all forgettable, although The Burrd's okay. Screwy Driver is actually a revived 1950s character, but the evidence here doesn't suggest that he was particularly worth reviving.
Overall, the book's fine. It's quite varied, with quite a lot of violence (Jimmy Hughes, Dinah Mo), light-hearted super-strength (Desperate Dan/Dawg, Brassneck), straight adventure strips (Rollo, Jack Silver) and a miscellaneous collection of comedy characters. It's got several longer stories among the (mostly) two-pagers. It's perfectly good stuff.