'AGH! IT'S 'IM!' This was the cry that made
brave sailors quiver in terror, reduced tough old seadogs to
blubber, and made nervous wrecks out of even the most courageous of
captains... and that wasn't the only kind of wreck that was
guaranteed whenever there was a sighting of 'IM!
'Im, or rather 'e, was
Jonah, and, like his namesake in the Old Testament who was
swallowed by a whale, this Jonah didn't have much luck at sea. Like
a watery version of current Beano fall guy Calamity James, Jonah
was a floating disaster area. Any ship that was unlucky enough to
take him onboard - often those daft enough to rescue him from the
wreckage of his previous boat - would soon find itself sunk.
He may not have been
popular with his crewmates, but Jonah's nutty nautical mishaps were
a great favourite with Beano readers in the late 50s and early 60s.
Each episode was packed full of Goon-ish humour - 'The Goon Show'
was still running riot on the radio when Jonah first set sail - and
madcap incidents as Jonah's bad luck took hold of whichever vessel
he was on.
The writer would often
pass his densely packed scripts around The Beano office, getting
the rest of the staff to pitch in to ensure no gag was missed.
These 12 frame scripts would then be passed on to artist Ken Reid,
who would transform them into busy pages - often those 12 frames
would have grown to more than 30 after Ken had worked out the best
way to wring the maximum comedy from them.
Jonah last set sail in the
pages of The Beano in 1963, but while the sea-goon was gone, he
wasn't forgotten. His little sister, an equally disaster prone
schoolgirl by the well-chosen name Jinx, had her own Beano strip in
1963 and 64, again drawn by Ken Reid. Jonah himself resurfaced in
the pages of 'Buddy' in the early 1980s, before jumping ship to The
Beano's arch rival, The Dandy, in 1993, in a new series of
sea-faring misadventures drawn by Keith Robson.
For now, the seas are safe, but there's always the chance that
once again the oceans will ring to the cry of, 'AGH! It's