Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist

Nigel Parkinson, Cartoonist
Picture taken back when we were allowed to go outside and meet people

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Terry Deary and Paul Gravett (and Eddie Mair)- Bad Show. (But at least Gary Northfield got a Nice Mention!)

I don't normally respond to uninformed opinion, but I think I will this time.

Listening to Paul Gravett  a 'comics expert' (sic) and Terry Deary ('author' of Horrible Histories, a childrens' book) pontificating about the 'Royal Visit' issue of The Beano on Radio 4 this evening, I was struck by how little they know about The Beano of today.
Mr Gravett, whose understanding of comics stopped in about 1988, proudly informed the listening public that 'Beano scripts are written inhouse by staff' while Mr Deary scoffed 'shouldn't be written by cartoonists'. Now, it would have been nice if someone, anyone, on the BBC's PM programme who knew anything about the subject had been on too. They were complaining that The Beano is stuck in the past and needs to do something new and modern. This is after them reading one issue, this week's, which is, I'm sure you'll appreciate, not a regular issue- it was done to coincide with a Royal Visit and needed to be a bit different, even a bit 'safe'- there is a protocol, etc, etc, come on, it's just one week. We routinely parodied, trashed and mocked famous people every week in The Dandy, but sometimes you've got to be nice to them.

So, to Mr Gravett, no, a lot of the scripts are not written inhouse anymore, many of them are now written by outside writers, such as Dennis The Menace and Gnasher which is more often than not written nowadays by Nigel Auchterlounie, and I bet if Mr Deary or Mr Gravett read one of his stories they'd most likely find it was 'something new and modern'.

Mr Deary seemed obsessed with corporal punishment, which was banished from the Beano about 30 years ago. Mr Gravett was keen to talk about the revolution in The Beano of 60 years ago. Yes, but have you tried seeing what a current issue is like (Royal issue aside)? of course not. Mr Gravett was pleased to promote the excellent Gary Northfield as an example of what The Beano could be doing (er- should you tell him or should I?) and suggest we all dash to our nearest Waitrose (I'll book the train ticket now, Paul) to pick up the comic HE proudly reads, The Phoenix. Nice plug. By the way if they DID sell it in any Waitrose I've ever been in, I would buy it. They don't. But do buy Gary's book, The Terrible tales of The Teenytinysaurs, though, it's brilliant, as usual.

Paul Gravett, a comics 'expert' (sic) remember, was on TV last year bemoaning The Dandy's demise and blaming it on the fact that it was 'stuck in the past'. If he'd picked up a 2010-12 copy, he wouldn't be smugly parading outdated nonsense like that. The Dandy of that era was nothing if not modern. Many criticized it for being TOO modern, for breaking too many links with the past.

Terry Deary, changing the subject to his own books, chortled snidely about books written by writers (er, I get it, I think) being better than anything by 'cartoonists'. Fine. I wonder how well your books would have sold originally without the allure of the 'cartoons' by Martin Brown, Mike Phillips and Phillip Reeve? Your publisher put them on the cover, after all. Don't be so shy next time, Terry, get them to ditch the 'cartoons' and just print your rather slender little volumes in all text. I just bet they'd be a real success.

Anyway, all publicity is good publicity, so thanks, guys, for the publicity!

You can enjoy the show here for the next 6 days (the bit I'm moaning about starts about 51 minutes in).


Kid said...

As you point out, anyone who says The Dandy expired because it was 'stuck in the past' doesn't know what they're talking about. And, as far as I'm aware, knowing what you're talking about is one of the qualifications of being an 'expert'.

Lew Stringer said...

Well said Nigel. It's disappointing (and sometimes disheartening) when supposed champions of British comics haven't kept up with the changes in the most popular UK titles. Paul usually knows his stuff, and his book Great British Comics is a very good read, but he seems to have missed out on the changes in The Dandy and The Beano over the last few years.

Harry Rickard said...

Fantastic points made here, Nigel - at leas there are people like all of us who actually do know what we're talking about, eh? It's disgusting that these people were even allowed to discuss the comic if all they were to do was continuously (and inaccurately) criticise it.

This week's issue was one of the worst I've read in a while due to the amount of continuation errors and very anti-menace stories - but at least I understand why that is and know The Beano is usually better. They should have got people who actually know their stuff about comics on there such as you and Lew - at least then they could actually hear about The Beano of today rather than the ones from 20-30 odd years ago.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, it's a shame that the two guests invited to talk about The Beano spent their time sneering at it. Paul is quite entitled to think the work we do for today's Beano is "bland" of course, if that's the way he views it, but I can't see the point of him running down The Beano in order to big up The Phoenix. Surely many readers (such as Harry here) buy BOTH comics, and appreciate them of their own INDIVIDUAL merits. There's no need to knock one comic down to praise another.

Hopefully any upcoming media discussion about The Beano's 75th anniversary will be more balanced.

spleenal said...

Yes, I didn't write the royal visit.

My only rejected script was a Corporal Clott story that featured a royal visit and a mishap with munitions.

So I fully support that decision :)