A BEANO BIRTHDAY
Eighty-years-old? Dennis the Menace! Surely not! Yes, it’s true, The Beano, muchloved by children of several generations, will be 80 years old on July 30, having first been published in 1938. Were you an avid Beano reader? Terry Redhead investigates ...
Can you believe it? Dennis the Menace is now 80 years old
It has made thousands of youngsters (and some not so young readers) chuckle for almost 80 years. Were you a fan of The Beano? Or perhaps you preferred The Dandy? Maybe your parents insisted you had something a little more educational, like Look and Learn? For the girls, perhaps it was Bunty, Twinkle or Jackie? Just what was it about comics that fascinated us all in our younger days? Can you remember eagerly awaiting the weekly delivery of your favourite? Or perhaps you rushed to the newsagents and collected it yourself! There were so many comics, most enjoying their heyday from the 1950s to the 1990s. But it is The Beano which carries the mantle as the longest running British children’s comic. Published in Scotland by D C Thomson, the weekly circulation of The Beano in April 1950 reached almost two million. Today, each issue is published on a Wednesday but carries the issue date of the following Saturday. it currently sells around 30,000 copies each week. Its famous characters include Dennis the Menace and his dog Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids, The Numskulls and Roger the Dodger. Over the years the style of the comedy in the stories has shifted, though the tradition of anarchic humour remains. For decades the strips glorified behaviour like naughty pranks and bullying (Dennis the Menace), dishonesty (Roger the Dodger) and even robbery (Baby Face Finlayson and The Three Bears). The sympathy of the reader was assumed to be with the miscreants like Dennis, but most are usually shown to be punished for their actions. Recently there has been a rise in humour depicting bodily functions, especially flatulence, while depictions of corporal punishment have stopped. The slipper, the instrument of pain meted out by Dennis the Menace’s father, has become the name of the local police chief, Sergeant Slipper. It was back in 1921 that D C Thomson first entered the field ofboys’ story papers. Then in 1937 The Dandy was born, followed by The Beano the next year. The Beano actually took its name from the English word ‘beano’ which can be loosely interpreted as a good time. There are only 12 copies of the first issue in existence and only five known copies of the second issue. A copy of the first issue sold for £12,100 in 2004. A first issue of The Dandy was sold in September 2004 for £20,350.
During the Second World War, The Beano and The Dandy were published on alternating weeks because of paper and ink rationing. The 3,000th issue of the Beano was published in January, 2000, and since The Dandy became a fortnightly publication in 2007, The Beano has taken over as the longest-running weekly comic. In 2012, Royal Mail launched a special stamp collection to celebrate Britain's rich comic book history. The collection featured favourites including The Beano, The Dandy, Eagle, Topper, Roy of the Rovers, Bunty, Buster, Valiant, Twinkle and 2000 AD.
Desperate Dan (The Dandy) and Minnie the Minx (The Beano) captured in stone in the centre of Dundee, home of D C Thomson.