By Lee Gale
For men of a certain vintage, a Beano annual was a guaranteed gift beneath the Christmas tree, sitting among a pile of pressies that might also include an Airfix plane or three, Matchbox car transporter, farm set, full football kit, five-colour torch and, if you were lucky, a gleaming Raleigh bike. Girls, of course, got dolls and prams. Flicking through the pages of your annual in the evening, stuffed to the gunwales with selection-box chocolate, there was almost a sense of joy that the protagonists in The Beano would usually end up tasting a size-nine slipper. Meanwhile, Walter the Softy was basically a frightening prediction of Shoreditch in 2018.
This year, The Beano celebrates its 80th birthday and to mark the occasion, Horace Panter, bass player with The Specials – and also one of Britain’s finest exponents of pop art and fine art – was invited to paint a series of compositions to be exhibited. The likes of Dennis the Menace, Lord Snooty and Billy Whizz were given the fantastically in-yer-face, wildly colourful Panter treatment, and can be seen at RedHouse Originals in Harrogate until 15 December.
In the more monochrome existence of The Specials, news has emerged that Britain’s reggae-tinged punk-pop kings have recorded a new album: Encore is to be released on 1 February. Panter puts down his brushes to tell British Ideas Corporation about his busy year.