Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Postman Prat: The origin

It's been ten years this autumn since The Dandy was revamped and I was invited to contribute. An exciting time, as the UK's longest-running comic was to be completely rebooted with a new look but taking it back to its roots as a comic. (It had previously been running as a magazine for a few years, titled Dandy Xtreme which didn't quite work.) 

The characters I did for the Dandy in 2010 were two concepts created in-house by the editors. Kid Cops, about two kids bringing justice to their neighbourhood in daft ways, and Postman Prat.  

I recently found a memory stick containing my Dandy strips so I thouyght I'd show you a couple of pieces. Above are my initial roughs for Postman Prat and his colleagues. I'm sure I must have submitted finished drawings too but I seem to have lost those. As you can see, Prat was originally a much shorter, chubbier character to the one he developed into. Not sure why I changed it. Perhaps I felt a leaner figure had more flexibility for slapstick. His proportions were a bit odd originally. Comic characters often evolve as time goes on, as you'll see if you look at early versions of Dennis the Menace or Buster for example.

Prat was still a fairly chubby character in the first episode, seen below. This is the art as I submitted it, with balloons and captions added later by the D.C. Thomson designers. Postman Prat was originally written by editor Craig Graham but he's had a few writers over the years. I write the stories myself these days for The Dandy Summer Special and Dandy Annual.
Sadly The Dandy didn't last too long in its final revamp. It had already lost many readers in previous years and never recovered from its declining sales. Ironically the final issue in 2012 sold so many copies it had to be reprinted to meet demand! Where were all those readers weeks before? Some said they weren't even aware it was still being published! Ah well, so it goes! 

Today, The Dandy survives in specials and annuals and Postman Prat appears in a new story in The Dandy Summer Special that's out now. He'll also be back in The Dandy Annual 2021, on sale in July! 

Below: Postman Prat as he appears today, in the upcoming Dandy Annual 2021


James Spiring said...

I'd been buying the 2010-2012 Dandys every week, but that final issue was SO hard to find! Too many shops sold out within an hour of opening. I got my copy after -MikeD- on the Comics UK forum mentioned somewhere in a different part of Hull having a few copies, after the shops in the city centre had sold out. Annoyingly, one of my local shops did eventually get it in - four weeks late. I guess they'd sold out on release day and took that long to get more because demand was so high!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, that last issue had a lot of publicity and the speculators snapped them up. A pity they hadn't been as loyal as you in the preceding years.

Manic Man said...

one part of the demand was … the evil 'speculative market' (if spelt right).. a bane since the 80s mostly.. people brought copies cause the price would go up in future and could make money on it. Right now.. looks like prices range from £2 to £30... most unlikely to be selling for the higher range right now.. but give it a few more (20) years.

Some comic companies are still trying to play into that market with 20+ cover designs per issue ¬_¬ there was a reason it almost killed the market at a few times..

that said, when the Dandy did the first issue after the revamp away from the .. kinda awful 'extreme' era.. I wasn't too impressed.. Maybe if I was interesting in modern 'pop' culture and felt the comic was worth buying for 'Big Star Harry Hill', then maybe.. but.. wasn't enough of interest and while I did like some of the artists work, I felt some of there takes on older characters wasn't that much interest to me.. and I think we you start to go down that route of pop culture and video games.. you are now completing with stuff that is centred around that.. so.. you are more opening up to more rivals and going from being a lead to a follower..

Remember when it was now online only and Morris Heggie did the standard press rounds saying how it's gonna be better then ever? then died with a whimper..