Not so Dandy (30.12.03)
Some depressing chatter being picked up on Al's
Comics UK forum over
the last month. The word amongst the wise is that
publishers DC Thomson
may be on the verge ditching 'The Dandy' from
their weekly comics run and
leaving 'The Beano' standing alone as their sole
surviving weekly comic.
Certainly, these look like being 'desperate' times for
this top title...
'The Dandy' and 'The Beano' have been with us for the
best part of
a century now, and they've become as institutionally
British as fish'n'chips
and tea and crumpet. 'Keep a Dandy handy' is the phrase
we know and love,
and many of us have over the years. But there
aren't so many doing that now.
Circulation guestimates seem to be varying widely,
from 20,000+ to 100,000+
copies being sold a week, but everyone confirms
that sales have certainly
been in decline of late.
Funnily enough, up until recently there was talk of
'The Dandy' being revamped
and reinvigorated for 2004, but everything seems to
have turned heels over
noggin in the last few weeks. Now the title appears
to have been dropped
from publishing lists from February 2004 and its future
hangs in the balance.
Will it resort to ongoing reprints and reruns,
a la Fleetway and their 'Buster'
comic back in the 1990s? Will it be merged with its
more popular brother
'The Beano'? Or will Desperate Dan, Corky The Cat and
the gang simply be
filed away in that great comic character library
in the sky...?
Who knows. But anywhichway you care to look at
it this is a desperately sad
turn of events for comics fans, especially given
the recent success stories
of 'Striker 3D' and 'Lucky Bag Comics', both of
whom have carved themselves
a tidy niche in the comics world and given much
hope that a comics
revival could be getting underway at last. Certainly
too, the artistic talent is
still out there and chomping at the bit for work.
The regulars at Al's excellent
comics site are united in their efforts to
try and persuade DC Thomson away from such a dramatic
act, but in
the end, only bumper sales count in a business
environment and 'The
Dandy' simply isn't getting them - or at least,
getting enough to satisfy
the demands of its Dundee publisher. Mind you,
a spin through recent
editions of the title points to a rather jaded
comic. 'The Dandy' has simply
lost its joie de vivre. It feels like many of
the strips are only there to fill the
pages, or aid in the promotion of the latest toy
or confectionery line.
(Witness six pages devoted to a rotten 'Beanotown
recently). At least the likes of 'Lucky Bag'
wears its heart on its sleeve
- or rather - it's sweets in its bag...
And here's one final thought to get you quaking
in your quilts this Christmas:
If 'The Dandy' is teetering like this, how soon
before 'The Beano' slips to
edge of a similar comics crevasse...?
The Hound will be keeping his fingers crossed
for the comic. And so should
you. Keep a Dandy handy now - before it's too
The Dandy ComicsUK
Oh Fungus, where art thou...? (21.12.03)
Now here's a curious omission from the UK's Christmas
schedules: 'Fungus The Bogeyman'.
First published back in 1977, Raymond Briggs'
'Fungus The Bogeyman'
introduced us to the foul festering race of Bogeymen
who dwelt below
ground, and whose daily return included making
visits above ground to
spook us surface dwellers with their noxious gases
Many folks have found inspiration from the character
- amongst them
Sir Paul McCartney, who penned the song 'Bogey
Music' in Fungus'
honour. And there there's Yours Truly who, of
course, features Fungus
in his Gentleman
Briggs mini site section here at Toonhound.
Way back in May
2002, the BBC put to bed years of speculation when
they announced their plans to film a TV mini-series
of the book. At the time,
a broadcast slot of January 2003 was penciled
in, but alas, this date
came and went without a hint of slime or bogey.
Step forward to April
this year, and here again were the BBC heralding
the imminent arrival of their said production. As The
Fungus was to be brought us to us in glorious
green CGI, and directed by
Stuart Orme via a script from Mark Haddon,
author of much lauded and
admired novel 'The Curious Incident Of The Dog in The
production was to star Fay Ripley and Martin Clunes
as the father and
mother of a young girl who gets trapped with Fungus
The BBC told us the show would be ready for broadcast
for some time
in the autumn, and Abbey Home Media were crowing about
picked up the home video rights for the UK and
Australia - which was
all jolly exciting...
...Until, autumn came, and poor Fungus didn't
show up on the schedules.
But we did get another teaser from the BBC press
office. In their Autumn
press pack they posted a synopsis of the series,
confirmation of the star
names involved and the star writer adapting the
work, and - most
importantly - a new broadcast schedule. Now we were
told the mini-series
would reach our screens over Christmas 2003, with
lots of slimey shenanigans
scheduled around the broadcast between 29th December
and 4th January.
What's more, a quick check on various video
sites confirmed and indeed,
still confirm, a December 27th home video/DVD
...Which brings us up to Christmas 2003 itself,
and the holiday schedules
now set in stone for all to view in the festive
edition of 'Radio Times'.
But - woe! - there's no hint of Fungus within
its many pages. Not a single
ball of bogey, nor dribble of slime. Fungus, it
seems, has slid out of the
schedules back down his bogeyhole. So when can
we expect the not-so-jolly
green giant to finally appear on our screens,
and what about that there
Well, the series has certainly been filmed. Or
at least, principal photography
has been completed. But a little bird tells me
that the production has had
a bit of bumpy ride, technically speaking. A CGI
Fungus was always going
to be a complex undertaking, and those technicalities,
coupled with a
somewhat restrictive budget have, I hear, set
the project on the back foot
again. That means no Fungus for Christmas, on
TV or video. From what I've
been able to ascertain the bogeyman is still coming
- of that there's no doubt.
But I've a sneaky suspicion he won't be with us until
later next year now. In
fact, you can already see him being lined up for Easter, provided
no more slime-ups with the production schedule - Let's
keep our filthy
fingers crossed for this much-delayed venture...
Park's plasticene pals (11.12.03)
Oh, what a treat for toon fans last night. Alan
Yentob's documentary slot
on BBC1, 'Imagine', this week looked at the history
of animation and the
shift from drawn animation to computer work. 'From
Pencils To Pixels'
featured clips and interviews with numerous professionals,
Lasseter to Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, and
clips from 'Spirited Away',
'Back In Action', 'Toy Story', 'Gertie The Dinosaur',
'Little Nemo In Slumberland'
and many more, and it was a most intelligent and
But best of all for us News Hounds, tucked away
within its fifty fab minutes
was an interview with Nick Park in which he discussed
the development of his
plasticene pals Wallace and Gromit and his appreciation
for Miyazaki. And there
on the desk beside him we were given tantalizing glimpses
of characters evidently
from 'Park's new Wallace and Gromit film'...
Are Lady Tottington
or Victor Quartermaine here? - No names
and interestingly, no 'Were-Rabbit' title named,
but Yentob's voiceover told
us he was speaking with Nick a day before filming
was to begin on the
movie. And Park himself teased us with the notion
of it being an old-fashioned Hollywood horror
film set in the wilds of north-west England. Something
we already knew, of course, but - oh - how frighteningly
fun it all sounds.
Maybe these were merely background characters,
or mock-ups, or
prototypes. Who knows. It's still cracking stuff!...
Valiant voices (02.12.03)
Chocks away, everyone! - Vanguard Animation have
at last officially
announced the lineup of voices for their CGI feature
'Valiant'. The film
focuses on the exploits of a lowly wood pigeon
with aspirations to join
the ranks of the elite Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon
As mooted just
over a year ago Ewan McGregor will be voicing the title
character, with Sir Ben Kingsley portraying falcon
leader General Keyserlingk.
Jim Broadbent, Rupert Everett, Hugh Laurie, John Hurt and
are also on board.
The film itself is now in production at a new CG studio
complex at Ealing,
with Gary Chapman directing, and John H Williams of
'Shrek' fame producing.
They are now shepherding a crew of 95 through the production
with an eye on completion some time around December
Bob builds a BAFTA! (01.12.03)
Well now, Sunday night (30th November) was most
definitely a night
to remember for Bob The Builder because - at last
- after several attempts,
the jolly Christmas special 'Bob
The Builder: A Christmas To Remember'
picked up a Children's BAFTA mask for Best Animation.
Bob's win came at the expense of Toonhound fave,
'Bounty Hamster', and
even more a surprise, beat Cosgrove Hall's 'Albie'
too. Maybe that one already
had enough trophies to be getting on with? But
what the heck, 'A Christmas
To Remember' is very touching, and if you can
ignore the associated hype
you'll find a top-quality production there - well done, Bob,
HIT and HOT
And well done Wales too. Or rather, well done
the Welsh animation
industry, because Cardiff's Siriol Productions
picked up the Best Pre-School
Animation BAFTA for 'Hilltop Hospital' and S4C
guru Christopher Grace
was presented with a special award for his contribution
programming over the last thirty years.
Siriol's win stopped Collingwood O'Hare's from
collecting three shiny
awards in a row. It was Siriol's third BAFTA, coming
some 16 years
after their first award for 'SuperTed' and eleven years
after their Cymru
BAFTA win for 'Under Milk Wood'. Tony Collingwood
lost out with his
second nomination too, for his writing achievement
on 'Yoko! Jakamoko!
Toto!'. This time, knights-in-armour spoof 'Sir
Gadabout' won the vote.
Still, it was rather smart him getting a nomination
The Welsh animation industry must be jubilant right
now, with this year's
wins following last year's triumph for 'Sir Gawain
And The Green Knight'
(Best Animation 2003) - hoo boy-o!...
Perky passes on (01.12.03)
Sad to hear about the death of Michael John
last week. For years, Michael
was the voice of Perky Pig - or if you like,
one half of 'Pinky & Perky' the
all-singing, all-dancing, all-fooling pigs brought
to life by Jan
and Vlasta Dalibor
back in the 1950s. Michael's partner-in-squeaky-pitched
vocals was Charles
Young and together they sang their way through
and associated recordings. By the way, Perky
was the blue one, just in case
you can't tell them apart!...
'Pinky & Perky' knocked those 'Pop Idol' wannabees
into a cocked hat,
with hit after hit - both in the singles and album
charts. They released some
16 albums in all. And those original shows
were very funny - surprisingly so
still today. The Just Group had plans to
bring them back a couple of years
2000, July 2001), but their misguided
effort never made it to
Well, Christmas is upon us and it's time for Yours
Truly to take a well-earned
break. Updates and additions will be slow over
the festive period, but never
fear, normal service will resume from January
5th (or at least, as near to
normal as things ever get round here!).
The TV schedules are, as always, stuffed-to-busting
with top toons to catch
up with, so you can expect a steady trickle of
new additions in the Toonhound
indexes upon The Hound's return.
Have a great Christmas and New Year one and all.
And here's to a
Till next time!