Dennises, and comics art, somewhat OT :-)

minnow at minnow at
Wed Nov 12 14:20:32 EST 2003

Charlie wrote:

>I've since found the following URL which tells the whole story...

and I am glad I hedged my bets, because the chap we were worrying about in
the mid-eighties obviously wasn't someone who'd died in 1970!  So not David
Law and not Dennis the Menace.

There were other things in Beano, though.  In the 50s and early 60s there
were Minnie the Minx, and the Bash Street Kids, and Lord Snooty and his
Pals, and Biffo the Bear, and even, though he arrived a little later than
the others I think, Billy Whizz.  (Which is a silly thing to say about the
fastest boy on earth but hey.)  And I can remember Baby-Face Finlayson, the
Cutest Bandit in the West, as a newcomer.  And copyright for all of them
will have belonged to the publisher and not to their creators, back in the
50s and 60s.

Shocking when one looks at it, but the really shocking thing is how badly
they looked after that work.  There was a horror story that did the rounds
about an artist who finally managed to get them to agree that he had a
right to have his actual work back, the pages he had drawn for them, and
found when he went to collect it that quite a lot of artwork, not just his
but everything at random, had been used at one point to spread on a wet
floor where a roof had leaked, and had been walked on until it was
completely unrecognisable pulp.  That insanely stupid act will have lost
him (and also the publishers, because other artists' work that went that
way may actually have belonged to them) thousands of pounds: each page
could have been sold (with copyright provisos, obviously) for a couple of
hundred or more to collectors of such things.  Original artwork even from
1980s independent b&w comics was fetching 80 or 90 quid a page, at the
time: a Minnie the Minx page for instance, from the early 60s, would surely
have fetched more than that.

None of the publishers took the value of original artwork from comics
seriously.  The Evening Standard didn't look after the Modesty Blaise
originals very well either: one whole story is likely never to be
reprinted, because the originals for it were stolen by some bright lad who
worked for them and sold off at 40 quid per three-panel strip, at
Westminster Comics Mart, in the mid-80s.  I find it very frustrating that I
shall probably never know what happened before and after the single strip
(three panels) someone bought for me as a present -- if I had been there, I
might have realised this was stolen property and reclaimed the whole lot
for Peter O'Donnell, but unfortunately I wasn't...

Missed opportunities.  *sigh*  I know that the man from Titan who is a
Modesty Blaise fanatic and was responsible for the Titan reprint books
being done, and who *was* at that Mart, was literally tearing his hair when
he realised what had happened right under his nose!  First and I think only
time I ever saw anyone do that.  He didn't even have long hair, either.


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