Image Size: 742 mm X 550 mm
Paper Size: 898 mm X 716 mm
Edition Size: 175
Peter Blake has collaborated with The Beano to create a special limited edition print celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the much-loved comic. Coriander Studio was initially approached by The Beano’s publisher DC Thomson in early 2013, after Blake’s work was referenced extensively by Wayne Hemingway in the creation of the new style guide for The Beano. The artist also readily acknowledges the great visual influence that the comic has had on his own work, making him an ideal choice for this 75th Anniversary Project. Further conversations led Blake to focus upon the Bash Street Kids comic strip, which was devised by Beano editor George Moonie in 1954. Moonie had based the strip on the view from his office window in Dundee, where he would see schoolchildren pouring out of the gates of Dundee High School.
Taking the Bash Street Kids as his inspiration, Blake has recreated a scene representing Moonie’s view from the Beano office. The comic strip children have been substituted for the High School pupils seen against the backdrop of Dundee High School.
Blake’s image typifies the exuberance and fun of his pop art work, which explores all streams of popular culture, often focussing particularly on childhood reminiscence and nostalgia- hence his fascination The Beano, which he enjoyed as a boy. The irreverent themes and flouting of authority explored in The Beano echo some of the key tenets of pop art: flouting the rules of the fine art establishment. Many of Blake’s works feature found printed materials such as photographs, comic strips or advertising texts, combined with bold geometric patterns and the use of primary colours, here he has created a silkscreen edition based on a collage of cut-out Beano characters. In choosing to superimpose the colourful Beano characters in front of a monochrome vintage postcard-style image of Dundee High School Blake is continuing to explore a template that has inspired much of his recent collage-based works from the Venice Suite (2009) to his Homage to Damien Hirst. (2011). The contrast between the staid and sombre background of the school and the chaos of the rampaging Beano characters is striking. In fact the apparent chaos is not as chaotic as it may appear at first glance; Blake’s composition has been meticulously planned- he places characters in colour at strategic locations in the image bringing the viewer’s focus into the scene as well as creating compositional balance. Though based around the concept of The Bash Street Kids flooding out of school, all the key Beano characters appear in the image including Dennis the Menace, Gnasher, Billy Wizz, Lord Snooty and Minnie the Minx. Blake mixes old and new illustrations showing how the Beano has developed over 75 years.