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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Comic Cuts: "Give your kids a comic..."

Bel Mooney the Daily Mail is telling readers of her problem's page (25 July), "Instead of giving counselling, give your kids a comic."

Mooney briefly discusses 'Teddy Tail', the long-running Daily Mail comic strip—the first of its kind in British newspapers, which began life in April 1915. Teddy was "the mouse that will make your children laugh", originally drawn by Charles Folkard. Hugely popular (there were numerous books of his adventures, a club (the Teddy Tail League) and annuals), Teddy finally went to the great cheese factory in the sky in 1960.

"There were no speech bubbles; the narrative was beneath the pictures (or at the side) and the storylines were tame," says Mooney of an annual she has managed to find. "No matter. Think what was going on in the world in 1915 when Teddy Tail first gave pleasure with his innocent pranks. He was needed. And Beano's longevity reminds us how much children still need the energetic, subversive humour of The Bash Street Kids and Dennis the Menace. Pressured by school and by SATs fiascos, they need to laugh."

That's true for all of us. It's eight o'clock on a Saturday morning, and the coffee hasn't started to kick in. Thirty-five years ago, I'd have been legging it down to the newsagent to pick up my copy of Valiant, alternatively being dragged and dragging the dog along for his morning walk. The newsagent was about fifteen minutes walk and I couldn't wait to get there to find out what was happening this week to Rick and Charlie Wild, Louis Crandell and Tim Kelly. Nowadays I head online to scan through the headlines in the newspapers first thing in the morning and I'm thinking of weaning myself off them because I'm sure it's responsible for me starting the day miserable or angry. Thirty-five years ago it would have been the first week of the summer holidays and we'd have been celebrating the beautiful weather and every day had the promise of infinite possibilities. Nowadays, it's all knife crime and the cost of gas and electricity soaring.

My point isn't that I've turned completely into a miserable old git but that we could all do with a laugh. I'm thinking: establish a cheerful mood first thing by cruising through some of the very funny web-comics that are available on the internet; get started on the day's work while my brain is fresh; don't look at the papers until at least 9 o'clock or even 10 o'clock.

The little pessimistic devil whispering in my ear tells me the reality will probably be: spend too long looking at web-comics; start work late and distracted wondering what's been going on in the world. Where's that little optimistic angel when you need her for balance?

On Wednesday I wrote "By the time you read this I should have the Sci-Fi Art book just about in the bag." I wasn't fibbing: I managed to finish and send off the introduction. Thursday and Friday were a complete change of pace: translating The Robots of Danderzei for the next StormThe Collection volume due in a couple of months. I've still to do the introduction but I'll hopefully have that wrapped up on Sunday leaving me free to start something fresh on Monday morning.

More good news: Frank Bellamy's King Arthur has been sent off to the printers, as has The Art of the Trigan Empire, a catalogue of Trigan artwork for sale via the Illustration Art Gallery. I wrote a brief introduction to it a month or so ago. Both should be out in time for the London ABC Show on Sunday, 21 September, where I shall be sat, pen in hand, while people wander past with sideways glances and puzzled looks wondering who the heck I am. Wasn't he the guy who sat next to Syd Jordan last year? Or maybe a few people will take pity and ask me to sign something.

Ahhh... welcome back optimistic angel.

(* Teddy Tail © Daily Mail; Calvin & Hobbes © Bill Watterson; Trigan Empire © IPC Media.)

1 comment:

Richard Sheaf said...

both books sound great, hopefully I'll be at the ABC show to get them then.