It's official. "The Dandy" isn't going
anywhere, apart from "up". That's
because publishers DC Thomson have finally put
to bed months of unruly
speculation about their classic comic. From October
7th, "The Dandy"
gets bigger and broader in its appeal, with new
strips, facelifts for older
stars and plenty of free gifts to boot. And accompanying
will be a wave of advertising and promotion across
The relaunch follows on from a whole bunch of
research commissioned by
the publishers, asking today's kids what they
wanted from a weekly comic.
As a prelude to the relaunch, we've already had
a big fat
pdf. Press Release
from the publishers, and a swathe of tie-in news
stories on the BBC, ITV, and
in the national press. Much of the tabloid news has
focused on that star
turn, Desperate Dan, with news that he's to become
slightly more "cartoony"
in design, and that he's to lose his gun and spurs
and become more PC for
a modern audience. Well, that's actually slightly
skewed, because although
these changes are occurring, if anything, Dan
is reverting to his cowboy past
once more, which is great for older fans - and
he'll still be drawn by the brilliant
The strip generating the most buzz stars a chap
called Dreadlock Holmes,
who's supposedly a streetwise "cool kid". The
strip's being drawn by Steve White
and hopefully, the lad won't be as irritating as
Fleetway's Watford Gapp "King of
the Rap" who sprung up in "Whizzer &
Chips" in the late 80s. Then there's Jak,
a trouble-making school boy and "Office
Hours", which will take readers behind the
scenes of a fictional editorial team as it struggles
to put a weekly comic together.
That one seems to be in keeping with past strips from
both DC Thomson and
Fleetway, and surely leaves the door open for
many in-jokes and tomfoolery.
Elsewhere Bananaman, Ollie Fliptrick, Blinky and
Owen Goal remain,
and they'll still be drawn by their usual artists.
Cuddles and Dimples return,
but they'll now be drawn by Nigel Parkinson.
So will it all work? - Will "The Dandy"
scale unprecedented heights upon its
relaunch? - We'll just have to wait and see. Look
out for the first revamped
edition on October 7th, complete with a free rubber
it blows a big fat raspberry at the opposition...
Call him Shaun (23.09.04)
Here's some cracking news from CBBC today. They've
a 40 part series from Aardman Animation, starring
and named after,
Wallace and Gromit's woolly friend Shaun the Sheep.
As you're probably well aware, Shaun was the canny
lamb who costarred
in the third Wallace & Gromit film, "A
Close Shave" and went on to grace
innumerable Tee-shirts and licensed
products. CBBC's controller, Dorothy
Prior, has opted to fully-fund the new series
which starts production at
the end of the year. That's an interesting move,
because most toons of
this ilk are funded via co-production money. C21media
speculates it might
be to be meet the channel's government-imposed obligations
to the UK
animation sector. It'll be even more interesting to
see if other series get
the same treatment. The Beeb's connections to
"Wallace & Gromit" extend
right back to A
Grand Day Out, and in the past, the channel has made a
great fanfare about their association, putting
the stop-motion stars on the
cover of "Radio Times" and even commissioning
a special series of
"Wallace & Gromit" idents for their
Shaun's not the only Nick Park creation to earn
himself a spin-off show. Last year,
ITV fanfared the arrival of their "Creature Comforts" series
a groundbreaking peak-time slot just before "Coronation
talking animals went on to score lots of awards
"Shaun the Sheep" should reach our screens
in 2006. Awareness for the
production ought to be sky-high around then, given
that the "Wallace & Gromit"
movie should be snaffling up box office takings around
the world. According
to the BBC, the new series will see Shaun getting
up to various antics, including
synchronised swimming in the sheep-dip and dressing
up as a scarecrow.
And by 'eck, this could be a cracking little production,
it really could...
Some sweet news today, regarding "Postman
Pat" and his creator John
Cunliffe, and the Post Office which inspired his
jolly creation. You may recall
that the office at Beast Banks, near Kendall in
the Lake District was closed
down in June
2003. Well, now an official commemorative plaque has been
unveiled upon the site, honouring its famous literary
connection. A rather
splendid gesture indeed, and handsomely-timed,
given Pat's recent return
to our screens...
As for the site itself, well, incredibly Mrs Goggin's
Post office has now been
converted in to a living room. What's more, there's
an interesting twist to
this tale because the the plaque was officially
unveiled by the Mayor of
Kendall, who just so happens to be the wife of
the last sub-postmaster
of the office, who just so happen to own said
Pat's twenty-five years young now, and I don't
mind saying it again:
His new show is a treat...
Goodness. There we were, just a few short
months ago, celebrating the
record-breaking sale of a first-edition "Beano"
comic at auction. Well now
look what's happened: That first-edition of "The
Dandy" that Compal
offered up for auction
in Mayhas gone and trumped it. And how.
This particular first-edition was in practically
mint condition and what's
more, it was the only-known edition to still have
the original free gift included
(an express whistler that still works). The estimate
was put between
£3,5000 - £4,000, but given that records
had just been broken by that
"Beano" comic, interest in the final
figure was high. In the end, the
comic was sold for a jaw-dropping £20,350.
That's more than £8,000
higher than that earlier record. And it was sold,
funnily enough, to
the same publicity-shy chap who'd bought that
"The Dandy"s record-busting sale comes
at a time when speculation
about the comic's future is still rife. Depending
on where you look for info,
the title is either perilously close to being
merged with "The Beano",
or dropped all together, or on the cusp of a spanking
new facelift and
talk even hints at the removal of Desperate Dan from
the comic, because he's considered too old-fashioned
for today's readers.
But The Hound still reckons much of that doom-laden
chatter is just that:
Idle chatter. DC Thomson have cleverly kept their
comics alive for
seventy years, whilst others have fallen foul
of the changes in publishing
trends. Dan may be "desperate", but
his comic probably isn't. Especially
with all this record-busting publicity swilling
At last, this week we've seen the launch of the all-new
"Postman Pat" on
the BBC. It's been quite a wait, mind. Entertainment Rights
fanfared their plans
for an all-new series back in September
2002, and the extended episode
"The Greendale Rocket" premiered
on DVD last year. But finally, fans can
catch up with Pat's terrestrial arrival...
The BBC2 broadcasts opened with that self-same Greendale
Rocket story, and
it's a rather fine little film. When the school kids
find the old Greendale train
the whole village works to get the engine back to rights
in time for the opening of
the new railway station. Pat, Jess, and all of their old
friends are present and
correct, but Greendale just got bigger, with more kids
at the local school,
and we now have the Bains family - Ajay and Nisha, and
their kids Meera
and Nikhil - here to restore and maintain the titular
As animated by Cosgrove Hall, with puppets by Mackinnon
Greendale and its population are both instantly familiar
and subtly modernised.
The effects team bring us virulent country weather;
torrential rain and its ilk.
There are some lovely little touches, like blowing leaves
and rippling water.
And modern movie-making techniques allow us to see some
on Pat's red van as it twists and turns on its merry
way. Then there's the Greendale
Rocket itself, transformed from rust to restoration
and accompanied by clouds
of pishing steam. The major new additions, however, come
in the form of mouths.
That's right, Pat and the gang now "talk" to one
Fans will be even more smitten by Jess. Pat's pal is
always up to something
in the background. The poor moggy gets blown away
with Pat's letters in one windy
scene. Plus there's a lovely little sequence featuring
Pat and Ted, in which Jess is
seen sliding side to side on the bonnet of the post
van as the two chaps lean
on the vehicle...
In all, then, this was a lovely little tale well told with
new songs to jig along to
and one hopes the rest of the series is just as good.
The Beeb have gone to town
with their broadcasts, adding interstitials before and
after the episodes and even
reproducing a full-size version of Mrs Goggins' Post
Office. If you missed "The
Greendale Rocket", remember, the
DVD is still available. Meanwhile, the series
continues weekdays at 8.30am on BBC2 - Welcome back, Pat!
Ah me, a webmaster's work is seemingly
never done. As regular visitors to this
little place will know, I've been slowly but surely
working my way through the
various site sections over the last couple of
months, upgrading pages and adding
new series and creations to the indexes. So after
a brief delay whilst I caught
up with a bit of offline living, I'm now turning
my attentions to Toonhound's very
poorly puppet section.
Them there pages have been sorely neglected of late,
with dead links a-plenty and old index pages hanging
around which date right
back to the start of my online enterprise. Stay tooned for
lots of updates,
amendments, revisions and additions there over the
And stay tooned too, for another Toonhound
interview, online as soon as
possible. You might recall, last month I promised
you another Q&A with a
former Fleetway artist. Well, that chap is the
multi-talented Glyn Wall. He's
one of Fleetway's unsung heroes of yore. He created
Tom Horror's World
and went on to write scripts for very many of
your favourite Fleetway stars.
Glyn's little page has been pushed back in the
schedule by an unfortunate
turn of events. My Inbox fell apart at the start
of the month, resulting in the
loss of a stack of correspondance and contact info
- Glyn's included.
It's been hugely frustrating putting everything
back in order...
Now let's turn from frustration to sadness, because
tomorrow (20th Sept)
is going to be a very strange day for The Hound.
Why? Well, that's because
it's the day that a
certain trilogy of DVD discs gets their much-anticipated
mega-launch across galaxies far far away and beyond.
Those DVDs are the
original "Star Wars" films, of course,
and they're pertinent and poignant for
myself because of the close family connections
father was the
fight arranger on the three films. He co-ordinated
all of those flashing lightsabre
duels and he also appeared on screen as the infamous
Tatooine Tusken Raider,
various Stormtroopers, an Imperial Scout, Larouf
Gafoe, and others. What's
more, he even gave Yours Truly a look-in on "fame",
by somehow scooping
me and a brother a stint playing Jawas in "A
New Hope", and a third brother
of mind got a blink-and-you'll-miss-him role in
"Empire". On top of that, the
family got to attend Gary Kurtz' fabulous "Star
Wars" Christmas parties
we even got to travel with the crew for three
months during filming of "Return
of the Jedi" (or "Blue Harvest"
as it was surreptitiously known at the time).
If you're a regular here at Toonhound, you'll
know my father passed away
from a stroke, back at the end of March this year.
In his latter years
he spent many a happy time abroad at numerous
Sci-Fi conventions around
the globe where he meet fans and talk about those
"Star Wars" days. And
one of the very last things he did was to sit
down for an interview to be included
in the trilogy
box sets. I've not seen what's on it, but he told us he was chatting
for over an hour, so as you can imagine, the family
will be intrigued to see
how much makes it in to the final edit. Intrigued
and saddened, of course, to
see his final "performance". But I reckon
he couldn't have asked for a
When I can, I try to shoehorn time for my
father's web site in to my schedule.
He picked up more than 1,000 film and television credits
over the years
and I've made it my duty to track down as many
appearances as possible
and identfy them on the site. "Peter Spotting"
has always been a fun family
game, and it's picked up even greater significance
since his death...