I've worked on a considerable number of comics over the years.
I worked on Beano from 1988-89. I must have been so good that a mere 17 years later I was back in Beanotown and worked there again from 2006-2013, which included a stint as the Editor of Beano, BeanoMAX and various other aspects of the Beano brand.
I wrote most of the major Beano characters at some time or other - Dennis and Gnasher, the Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger and Bananaman. I also wrote for the Dennis and Gnasher TV series, on which I was Creative Consultant. I was also script editor on the Beano radio series.
I wrote most of the stories in the Beano in that period at one time or other but the most fun I had was with Meebo & Zuky, the most over-the-top, violent story the Beano ever had. They even killed each other and went to Hell - but weren't allowed in because they'd lower the tone of the place. Laura Howell provided some top class artwork for that story, which really made the absurd cartoon violence work so well..
50TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE
70TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE
I worked on the Beano's 50th birthday issue and was also there for the 70th and 75th birthday issues. I was on the Dandy for the 60th, but I did attend the party - in fact we organised it.
I treasure these signed copies of those landmark issues. They're a reminder of happy times and some of the incredible talents who became great and dear friends.
I spent two stints on the Dandy, from 1986-1988 and then from 1993-2005. For the last five years of that time I was Deputy Editor.
I wrote Desperate Dan, Bananaman, Cuddles & Dimples, Bananaman, Korky the Cat and countless other stories, while working for the legend that is Morris Heggie, the finest comics man I've ever met. He's also pretty much the finest human being I've ever met. His kindness and generosity are legendary at DC Thomson. I'm really fortunate to have worked with people like Morris, Ally Bernard, the self-professed legend and icon Ian Gray, Dan McGachey, Craig Ferguson, Claire Bartlett... and a long list of chums on Editorial who spent (and in some cases still spend) their days making kids laugh. Is there a more noble way to earn your corn than that?
I think it's worth flagging up the effort put into comics by the artists. The artists who draw the pages are the ones who get most of the plaudits, and possibly rightly so - but there are lots of other kinds of artists - these days it's designers who apply speech balloons by computer and design feature pages, but in the past there were hand letterers who added the BIFFs and the BANGs - that was wast they did all day. There were the colourists who made the pages vibrant and bright and there were the balloonists, who added the speech bubbles. They - particularly the balloonists - were an integral part of the team. Why single out the balloonists? Well, they were in the offices (mostly) but the others were up in an art dept of... maybe 70 people? It really was a factory,
50TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE
60TH BIRTHDAY ISSUE
Here's a thing. I was the only member of Editorial to work on both the Dandy's and the Beano's 50th birthday issues. There's was eight month gap between the comics birthdays and in the intervening period I was moved to the Beano.
I loved these special landmark editions. They just had an extra bit of zing and they reminded me of the history that we wee part of.
The Broons and Oor Wullie
These two iconic comic strips from the Sunday Post are a part of Scottish culture. I handled them from 2005-2006, when I was working in the Comic Projects, and I wrote some scripts for the stories during that time. I've written more since going freelance.
This was the very first comic I worked on. I read proofs of the final issue of the Nutty but I don't think that's enough to make me a Nutty Boy. The Hoot was a joy to work on. It had a great atmosphere in the office. I worked with some fantastic artists like John Geering, Barrie Appleby, Steve Bright and David Mostyn and with great comic writers like Morris Heggie, Al Bernard and Duncan Leith. It was a terrific place for a young lad of 18 to learn his trade... and to fall in love with the business of making comics.
The Hoot only lasted 53 issues, and I sloped off to the Dandy when that comic absorbed the Hoot... but it was a great year, and I was very lucky to work with great artists and great writers who were also just terrific people.
The Beezer then The Beezer and Topper
From 1989-1993 I worked on the Beezer and then the Beezer and Topper when the two comics merged. We had a hello of a lot of fun working on the Beezer and Topper. It was a lot of hard work and we didn't have the marquee names the other comics had but we did put out an interesting and innovative comic.
My favourite job of the week was writing Edd the Ghost, which was drawn by David Mostyn. We tried to get pathos as well as gags in there. I always imagined the character as being voiced by David Jason if he was doing it for Cosgrove-Hall, who made Dangermouse and Count Duckula.
While we were working on the Dandy we took over the small pocket comics which had been called the Dandy Comic Libraries. We re-branded them Fun-Size Dandy for long reasons I won't bother you with. They were a lot of work over and above our regular weekly work but they were so much fun to do. We were able to experiment with new artists, new stories and different story techniques. I wrote a lot of stories for the Fun-Sizes because I really enjoyed writing them. I wrote half a dozen stories for a superhero character, The Comet, who migrated to the weekly Dandy and the Dandy Annual. I had a blast working on these.
The thing with The Comet was that he had to be a very Dandy type of superhero. The comic hadn't run that kind of strip for a while. I took my lead from ITCs TV shows of the 60s and 70s, meaning there would be fun and thrills but it also had to be funny - or at least fun.
This episode is from the weekly story, Fall of the House of Wax.
My last six months on-staff at DC Thomson was very happily spent working on Commando, editing scripts and writing text stories for the cover flaps. I've had fun writing scripts for the Commando over the past year or so, working with current Commando C.O. Gordon Tait and his predecessor Kirsten Murray, who have both done a great job with the title.
Some strips I wrote
MEEBO & ZUKY
from the BEANO
from The DANDY
MINNIE the MINX
from The BEANO
from The DANDY