The Beano

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The Beano

“Comics are becoming the new pop art. The new post modern communication. This is not just comics, but a new breathtaking new multi-media format. Comics are the new culture.” (Kapur)

The development of comics is extremely important – firstly because it is a massive industry but also because it has huge cultural implications. An example of this is that in most movies based on fictional characters there is a ‘bad guy (or guys) that are trying to take over the world or trying to destroy stuff, and the good guys have to try and stop them from doing this. The bad guy is always trying to destroy the country that the good guy comes from or even the whole world, never a country that has nothing to do with the situation. This is because the country that was getting destroyed could be seen as a reflection of the perceptions the ‘other’ has of them. The dynamic and constant creation of new culture is key to the maintenance of cultural power. Popular culture not only fuels the development of new culture but also helps to bring back older styles.

Coming from a background of reading comics as a child, I have slowly seen a change in some of my favourites like The Beano and The Dandy. The differences are unbelievable - the prices for these comics have sky rocketed, and the content in them has adapted to suit the rules and norms of modern day society. With modern day children, the companies that produce these comics have to be incredibly careful with what they say and put in them as lawsuits have become more commonplace as a way to solve grievances. I’m going to be focusing on the Beano as my main comic that I will be comparing because it was one that I was bought every week without fail as a child, and I have seen the changes with my own eyes. These two comics I have chosen to compare to one another are separated by 31 years, therefore we should expect to see significant changes that have been made to the comic to be able to still sell it in the new world we live in today.

To start with the price of the comic on the left, which is the older one, was 9p back in 1981 and the one on the right is £2 in 2012 – clearly not all of this change can be put down to inflation.

Really this isn’t a comic book anymore - it has become a magazine that is made of out of plastic paper to make it stronger, but this also turns it into something that you don’t throw away. Comics nowadays are something that you can pick up, put down, go back to whenever you feel like it, then archive by putting it in a plastic wallet and keeping it for future generations to look at later on down the line. Older comics are becoming more and more expensive because you’re buying into the past and taking a snippet of it for yourself, even more so if they are in good condition. The older Beano comics children would buy, read and then throw away ready for when next weeks Beano came out - just like adults reading papers, you would read it then throw it away.

The way that the storyboard has been laid out is a classic modernist grid type format. On the cover on the left it is clear which way to read the story, starting with the left of the page and finishing with the last image in the bottom right hand corner of the page - just like a book. The newer comic’s cover has a very different approach with the content - firstly there is no story on the front cover, but lot of interaction with the viewer. Using Dennis as a way of communicating with the viewer using his slingshot and a tomato aimed outside of the boundaries of the comic, the 4th wall between the reader and the character is broken. It’s trying to create a more personal interaction with the reader to make them feel more involved with the comic. The new equipment that you can buy for games consoles force the player to interact with them using hand movement and gestures – an attempt to involve the player more directly in the medium - making the player pretty much part of the game itself. In comics there...
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