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Friday, 4 December 2009

Sixth Tele! - Beano and Dandy In The Belfast Telegraph

Not so much news as "olds" but it is worth mentioning that the Belfast Telegraph gave away modern reprints of old Beano and Dandy comics during the week beginning 23 November 2009. The six issues were reprints of the Beanos and Dandys cover dated 22 & 29 November and 6 December 1975.

Like the comics reprints that were published in the Guardian in September this year, these Beanos and Dandys were direct reprints with nothing added such as a 'Given free with the Belfast Telegraph' flash. Unlike the Guardian, which reprinted comics from both the DC Thomson and IPC archive, the paper only dealt with DC Thomson titles.

The Belfast Telegraph is Northern Ireland's biggest selling local newspaper and is part of the Independent News and Media (INM) group which publishes the Independent newspaper in the UK and the Irish Independent in the Republic of Ireland.

The Friday before the giveaways, the paper ran an interview with DCT archivist, and former Dandy editor, Morris Heggie who talked about his time working on both titles. “I joined the company that publishes both comics, DC Thomson, in 1969 and had initially applied to become a journalist. I had gone to work there straight after I'd finished school. They took one good look at me and said that I'd probably be better off in comics..." Heggie goes on to say, "I started my career in the Beano. All of the story lines were written by a six-strong staff of young guys. It was a great environment and great fun to work in.”

He also shows the level of detail in DCT's records by pointing out, “in 1975, the Beano had a weekly circulation of around 400,000 – 500,000. But we actually sold 25,000 per week in Northern Ireland alone. We had a very big following in Ireland as a whole. In fact, the majority of the letters and jokes we pulled out of our post bag in 1975 — as back then everything was done by 'snail mail' — were from Northern Ireland.”

It is interesting to speculate that in the year that 247 people died in the Troubles in Northern Ireland and in London one of the presenters of the children's TV show Record Breakers was assassinated by the IRA's Balcombe Street gang, at least some of the Provence's children, denied the freedom to play in the streets and parks due to concerns for their safety, may have found a different outlet for their self expression.

The interview with Morris Heggie is on the Belfast Telegraph website.

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