Derek the Sheep finally put out to pasture…

Well, it had to happen one day, and today is unfortunately that sad day.

This month sees Derek’s final appearance in a Beano mag for the foreseeable future.

After 7 long, mad, crazy years, 70-odd stories, including 5 Beano annual appearances, his own book published by Bloomsbury, a Booked Up Booktrust selection shifting 24000 copies of said Bloomsbury book, a French edition under the moniker Norbert Le Mouton, and everso nearly his own cartoon series; Derek The Sheep has chomped his last blade of grass for the BeanoMax (or The Beano for that matter).

A new editor = a new direction = a kick up the bum for Derek the Sheep out the back door.

It’s been a brilliant, fairly surreal experience writing and drawing for such an esteemed comic as The Beano the last few years. Hats off to my original editor Euan Kerr for taking the chance on me and Derek and for his childlike glee and enthusiasm for the stories I produced. Thanks also to Alan Digby for keeping me in sheep stories (he also asked me to draw some Bash Street Kids Singled Out strips a couple of years ago, but my marriage blew up that very same week and I never found time (or perhaps inclination) to draw it. Life, eh?). And to John Anderson on the BeanoMax for asking me to be a regular contributor 18 months ago cos he was such a fan. Sir, you have been a great support and editor.

Derek wasn’t exactly like anything else in the Beano (still isn’t), so it was quite a risk for Euan to stick Derek in back in the day. But the risk paid off thanks to overwhelming support from young fans and parents alike. Well I say overwhelming, for all the fans giving Derek 10/10 in the  polls, there were just as many giving my stories 1/10 with very little in between; but the sheer fanaticism of those who loved him helped keep Derek a regular fixture in the Beano.

And that, for me, has been the best part about working on the Beano – the fans.

Whenever I was feeling down, or lacking in confidence over my work, I’d get an email in my inbox from a fan telling me how much Derek and his crazy antics would mean to them. One dad told me how he and his son would recite Derek’s adventures in the car on the way to school; another lad would carry Derek’s book around school all day, every day and all his mates would take the mickey, but he didn’t care. I’d even get emails from teachers telling me how a whole classroom would regularly fight over who gets to read Derek’s book at reading time.

Emails like these would instantly blow the cobwebs from my brain and I would triumphantly knock out another crazy adventure.

Fans, I salute you!

So what’s next for Derek?

Well, there’s a theatrical version of his nonsense from Legend Theatre, coming to a school or children’s theatre near you for one thing. And there was talk of maybe another French edition of Norbert Le Mouton. I’ve even been tinkering with the idea of bringing out a Quarterly Derek magazine to sell with the play…

Whatever happens, I’m sure Derek will be back in some form or another before you know it. Watch this space 😉

Undercrackers!

Hooray! This week sees the release of a new issue of the monthly mag Beanomax, which, as we all know, means another stupid DEREK THE SHEEP story! “Woohoo!” the nation cries.

This month features Derek looking after idiot savant Bernard the Goat whose shed has blown away. Bernard likes to eat underpants, so it’s all about the pants for two whole pages. I even get to use the word “undercrackers” (I love that word).

Here’s an hilarious panel:

Ho ho. And what japes are had!

I did have a scene where Rodney the Bull and Dave Goose were flushing loo paper down the toilet, but there just wasn’t room to fit it all in. The shame.

Here’s Rodney looking all innocent, DVD-extra-stylee:

And here he is in the strip all dressed up in loo paper:

So please rush out and buy the Beanomax, cos it’s brill and I’m in there every issue. Oh yes.

New Derek!

Hooray! It’s another month, which means there’s another Derek in the Beanomax!!!

This month Derek and his sheepy pals are woken from their woolly lazy world and are subjected to the raving loony that is Clarence the keep-fit sheepdog.

Here’s a marvelous sequence:

So sprawling was this story, that it’s a TWO-PARTER!!! Yep, so you have to wait a whole month to see how it finishes. And its totally nuts, I tell ya.

And while you’re busy buying the Beanomax, pick up the exciting new Dandy featuring loads of brand new strips! Shamefully I didn’t have time to contribute a strip due to my over-burgeoning schedule (including work on my BRAND NEW graphic novel coming out from Walker in about a year’s time. Woohoo!!! More on this soon. It contains dinosaurs is all I’m saying at the mo’…).

Anyway, good luck to the Dandy and all its contributors!

Ta ra!!

Independent on Sunday update

Got sent a jpeg of the print copy of Sunday’s interview for the Irish Sunday Independent!

Here it be…Ain’t I handsome.

I might publish the full unabridged version one day, which includes my fantastic beans on toast joke. I told it on twitter and it really made Jamie Smart laugh, so it must be funny.

Run for the hills, Derek is here!

Woohoo! It’s that time of the month again i.e. a new issue of Beanomax hits the shops. And a new issue of Beanomax = a brand new Derek the Sheep story!! Yay!!!

That’s 9 Dereks in a row now. I totally OWN that mag! And I’ve just sent off the 10th, which is a two-parter and everything. W00t.

Here’s a panel from this month’s mad Derek strip:

Hahaha!!! Chaos ensues etc.

Please buy the Beanomax and support little ol’ Derek and the rest of the Beanomax crew. Sales have gone up 5%, halting a dramatic slide since he’s been in there (not that I’m saying it’s down to Derek or anything, just pointing out a jolly coincidence… or am I…?), so what are you waiting for? Buy the thing!!!

Ta!