MEMBERS of Montrose Probus Club were held spellbound at their recent meeting when they welcomed guest speaker David Torrie.
A graduate of Edinburgh University, David is a former editor of the ‘Dandy’ comic and his talk evoked many boyhood memories of various publications which emanated from the press of D.C. Thomson of Dundee. The Dandy was first published in 1937, followed by the Beano in 1938.
Apparently there was a promise given to those employees who volunteered for active service during the First World War that their jobs would be secure if and when they returned. With only one casualty there was an excess of workers, so it was decided to start producing some boys’ papers. ‘The Adventure’ was first published in 1921, followed by ‘The Rover’, ‘The Wizard’, ‘The Skipper’ and ‘The Hotspur’. These were collectively known as the ‘Big Five’. In 1936 Oor Wullie and The Broons in the Sunday Post were created.
It was pointed out that the Dandy was, on the whole, more commonly read by boys and the Beano by girls. The first edition cost 2d and consisted of 28 pages. First edition copies can now fetch around £20,000 in auctions. During the Second World War, when paper was scarce, the comics were drastically reduced in size. It is fascinating to learn that the editor of the Dandy was on Hitler’s ‘hit list’ of journalists, as the comic was used as a means of subtle propaganda against the Nazis.
Korky the Cat and Desperate Dan were always featured in the Dandy right until it stopped in 2012. The characters in the Beano seemed to change over the years. Biffo the Bear appeared in 1948, Dennis the Menace in 1951, Roger the Dodger the following year and Minnie the Minx in 1953. The Bash Street Kids came in 1954, based apparently on Dundee High School. Apparently the Home Office objected to scenes of corporal punishment when Dennis was being smacked or if fireworks and bonfires were being advocated. Political correctness has even infiltrated the world of the children’s comics.