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Quote of the Day | The most subversive comics of all

The Bash Street Kids

The Bash Street Kids

“Unfortunately, the curators of the exhibition ‘Comics Unmasked’ at the British Library have been overwhelmed by the Gothic vision, at the expense of every other contribution to the medium. And as creative as [Alan] Moore’s gothic is, it is still a lot less interesting than the material that has been left out of the exhibition. It is an aesthetic for adolescent boys who think that unhappy and twisted stuff is correspondingly profound, while comedy is trivial and facile. The truth is often the other way round, where horror and gore are really just sentimentality, prurient and moralistic at the same time, while comedy allows marvellous slippages of meaning that are much more intelligent [...]

The gothic does encourage some flashes of imagination, but it is quite taxing to see yet another raddled prostitute eviscerated – in spattered ink, of course – for the entertainment of troubled adolescents. How much wittier to peer through the Desperate Dan-shaped hole that Desperate Dan leaves in a brick wall – right down to the buttons on his shirt. Where are those truly subversive characters, the Bash Street Kids? They’ve been elbowed aside by the showroom dummies (an unintended self-satire) in the Guy Fawkes masks that loiter in the shadows of the exhibition, threatening nothing.”

– author James Heartfield, arguing that the British Museum exhibit “Comics Unmasked” omits the most subversive comics of all, kids’ comics like The Beano and The Dandy

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Robot Roulette | Mike Carey

It’s Saturday, which means it’s time for one lucky comic creator to spin the big wheel–of questions, that is. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where we’ve come up with 36 possible questions, and each week I will randomly select which of those questions our guest has to answer.

Our guest this week is Mike Carey, writer of The Unwritten, X-Men: Legacy, Hellblazer, Ultimate Fantastic Four, My Faith in Frankie, Lucifer and many other comics. My thanks to Mike for agreeing to answer some of our questions today; now let’s get to it …

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British comics bring mischief to the iPad

I grew up reading British comics, but because I lived in the United States most of the time, I couldn’t just trot down to my local newsagent to get the latest Beano or Dandy. My aunts used to send me bundles of them every now and then from Ireland, and the arrival of these big rolls of comics, wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string, was always a special event in our household.

The Beano and The Dandy featured one- or two-page stories, mostly about mischievous kids punking their parents, their teachers, or the local bully, and they had a goofy sensibility that was missing from the smoother, blander American titles we got at home — Archie, Richie Rich, Little Dot.

While they are less exotic than a package from a foreign land, the brand-new Beano and Dandy iPad apps still deliver the goods. Both apps offer the full weekly comic at a reasonable price ($1.99 for most issues, 99 cents for one of the Dandys), plus a handful of back issues for free. The Beano is almost unchanged from the days of my youth, with old favorites like Roger the Dodger and the Bash Street Kids still causing rather mild trouble for all around them, while The Dandy is a bit edgier, with more short strips, fart jokes, and a comic called The Bogies that’s about boogers. (It’s funny and not particularly mucus-oriented but … eew.) However, it also features the very talented Jamie Smart breathing new life into the classic Desperate Dan (about an enormous cowboy who doesn’t know his own strength) and contributing a delightfully goofy newer strip “Pre-Skool Prime Minister.”

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