Beano marks 80th birthday
30 July 2018, 07:19
The Beano plans to continue to laugh at the world from "a kid's-eye view" as the comic celebrates its 80th birthday.
Home to characters such as Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids, it first hit news stands on July 30, 1938 as a companion paper to The Dandy which went on sale eight months earlier.
Created by publisher DC Thomson in Dundee, it sold almost two million copies weekly in the 1950s and has continued to be popular with children over the decades.
Most of its best-known characters were introduced to the comic in the years after its launch, and the first edition was fronted by Big Eggo The Ostrich who kept his place there for a decade before being ousted by Biffo the Bear.
Very few first issues of the Beano remain in existence, with one selling for more than £17,000 at auction in 2015.
Dennis The Menace is the longest-running character to appear in the comic.
He made his Beano debut on March 17, 1951, but the "World's Wildest Boy" had to wait until May 5 of that year to be given his trademark black-and-red stripped jumper.
A series of events have been staged to mark the 80th anniversary with Dundee's McManus museum renamed the McMenace for an exhibition celebrating 80 years of the comic.
It includes original artwork, a first edition of the Beano, fan club memorabilia, and a history of publishers DC Thomson with visitors encouraged to dress up as their favourite characters.
Actor and children's author David Walliams has guest edited a commemorative issue also marking the anniversary.
Walliams' features in the comic have a nod to other character staples from the Dundee-based comic, such as Lord Snooty, Tin-Can Tommy and Pansy Potter.
In his editor's letter, Walliams said: "What I always loved about the Beano was that it felt naughty. It was a comic that you should read under the duvet with a torchlight. I don't think I'd have got into writing my books without Beano.
"When coming up with characters for my TV shows and books, I'd imagine them all as larger than life characters, much like the ones in Beano. The comic is quintessentially British and as long as there are children who like to laugh there will always be a place for the Beano."
He guest edited the comic in exchange for a donation to UK charity YoungMinds, which focuses on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.
Beano Studios and YoungMinds also worked together to create a new character called Mandi, who will debut in the 80th birthday issue.
Mike Stirling, editorial director of Beano Studios, said: "Everything about Beano has always evolved naturally, inspired by the kids we speak and listen to, every single day.
"They've ensured the situations our characters find themselves in are always relatable to every generation. It's all underpinned by our philosophy of laughing at the world via a kid's-eye view.
"Our online hub, Beano.com - the fastest growing kids' website in the UK - and No 1 smash-hit Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed animation series now mean more kids than ever before are enjoying Beano-inspired everyday rebellion."