The Auntie Doris Years: 1937

The DandyMy nephew Michael used to love comics when he was a boy. It was how he learned to read. Never mind ruddy teachers! I used to get him a Beano or a Dandy when I called around, and usually a summer special when we took him to the caravan and one of the annuals at Christmas time. Any road, 1937 was a good year for comics. It was the year that the Dandy came out. With Corky the Cat on the front, and Desperate Dan inside. I knew it was safe to give him the Dandy, it wouldn’t give him any silly ideas, because it was made in Dundee at the same place where they made “the People’s Friend” (they still do), and just down the road from where they make Dundee cake (May contain ruddy great traces of nuts, stuck on with massive dobs of James Keiller’s Marmalade). They know about the good life in Scotland! Desperate Dan! He lived in the quaint British village of Cactusville in the county of Deadwood Gulch, you knew it was British because of the the presence of the Royal Mail Postal Service, with red postboxes General Post Offices and, later on, telephone boxes. But it was pretty ruddy American too, in a Wild West sort of a way, rather than a multinational fast food corporation sort of a way. Dan was good, wholesome and strong, a real role model for readers of the Dandy. But like all good British comedy characters, he was a bit dim witted too. Sadly, even though my nephew Michael was a keen Dandy reader, he never grew up to be particularly good, wholesome, or strong. He’s more the weak filthy minded type. The only thing he has in common with Desperate Dan is his ruddy dim wittedness. He hasn’t even got that in common with the other famous comic character who came out on the opposite side of the Atlantic in 1937. Batman is good, wholesome, strong, and not in the slightest bit dim witted. Just a right wing toff who enjoys beating up people who break the law, and thinks that putting them in a lunatic asylum and throwing away the key will solve everything. And I don’t even think that they have the Daily Mail in Gotham City, so where the ruddy hell he gets his ideas from, the Lord alone knows. So there we are, in 1937, with the spectre of Fascism over Europe, and in Britain and America, we are more concerned with desperate Dan and ruddy Batman, than in doing very much about it. Still, in the years to come, both Dan and Bruce would pitch in to fight Hitler in their own ways. Rather them than some sort of clean cut white man intent on using his superior strength and power to impose his narrow ideology onto a world of rich diversity. Superman didn’t come out until 1938. Auntie Doris’s pop pick of 1937. “They All Laughed” by Fred Astaire with Jonny Green and his Orchestra. Just look at him dancing with Ginger in “Shall We Dance” Have fun.. The war is two years away yet!

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