The brand new Dandy annual's out (I just got it for my birthday) and, for the very first time ever, I'm in it. I've written and drawn versions of Strictly Come Dancing and the Great British Bake-Off starring all the great Dandy characters. For the first I've had the chance to draw everyone from Desperate Dan to Korky The Cat to Keyhole Kate to Beryl The Peril. Ah yes, Beryl.
You might notice, when you get the annual, that I've drawn two very different Beryls. That's cos, when I drew the Bake-Off strip, my only reference were the 2015 and 2014 Dandy annuals, which featured the animation-style Beryl designed by Karl Dixon, which had been running in the weekly Dandy until its demise in 2012. You see we prepare these things so far in advance, that the 2016 annual wasn't on sale when I delivered that artwork. I finally got a copy after I'd sent off the art, at which point I realised they'd reverted, for the 2016 annual, to having Beryl drawn in a pastiche of her classic 1960s look (re-done, I'm guessing, by Wayne Thompson? Someone put me right). Hence the in-joke, above, which appears in the Strictly strip which, luckily, appears after the Bake-Off strip in the order of the book.
Some gags have hit the cutting room floor, sadly. I'd rather I'd been asked to change them at script stage rather than gone ahead and drawn them, only to have someone Photoshop them out and add their own dialogue. But, believe me, I've had far worse edits before. Here it was obviously decided that cats licking their own bumholes was one truth too far for the kids. Then, in the Strictly strip, when Brassneck has been dancing with the TV camera, his punchline has changed slightly...
I was quite pleased with the "slo-mo, slo-mo, quick quick slo-mo" ballroom dancing gag. You can't please everyone. Another visual gag that bit the dust was making my Winker Watson sub-plot match up with Wilbur Dawbarn's artwork elsewhere in the Dandy annual. His strips are drawn monochrome, with just a little spot colour, so that's what I did for mine. When you get the annual you'll see someone's gone to the effort of recolouring all the Winker segments. Here's how they originally looked...
And one final stylistic change we had to make along the way was the lettering. I make a point of doing my own if I can, just so it reduces the likelihood of anyone rewriting every single word of my dialogue as they go along lettering it (yes, that has happened before now). I even went to the effort of downloading and matching the exact typeface used in the Dandy annuals 2015 and 2014, a caps and lower-case arrangement around which I designed the rest of the page. Then the 2016 annual came and you can guess the rest. Here's what the first version of Bake-Off looked like (complete with monochrome Winker Watson peeking in).
I'm chuffed and delighted to be in the 2017 Dandy annual, as well as writing scripts for this year's Beano annual. I do hope they'll have me back again.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.