|Publisher||D. C. Thomson & Co.|
|Publication date||30 July 1938 to present|
|No. of issues||4,078|
The Beano is the longest running British children's comic magazine, published by DC Thomson in Dundee, Scotland. The comic first appeared on 30 July 1938, and was published weekly. In September 2009, The Beano's 3,500th issue was published. One of the best selling comics in the UK, along with The Dandy, the weekly circulation of The Beano in April 1950 was 1,974,072. The Beano is currently edited by John Anderson. Each issue is published on a Wednesday, with the issue date being that of the following Saturday. The Beano reached its 4,000th issue on 28 August 2019.
Its characters include Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids, The Numskulls, Roger the Dodger, Billy Whizz and Tricky Dicky. Earlier characters who have been phased out include Ball Boy, Les Pretend, Ivy the Terrible, The Three Bears and Pansy Potter. Some old characters, like Biffo the Bear, Lord Snooty, Baby Face Finlayson and Little Plum, have more recently made a return as "funsize" quarter-page strips.
The style of Beano humour has shifted noticeably over the years, though the longstanding tradition of anarchic humour has remained. Historically, many protagonists were characterised by their immoral behaviour, e.g. pranking (Dennis the Menace), dishonesty (Roger the Dodger) and even robbery (Baby Face Finlayson and The Three Bears). Although the readers' sympathies are assumed to be with the miscreants, the latter are very often shown punished for their actions. Recent years have seen a rise in humour involving gross bodily functions, especially flatulence (which would have been taboo in children's comics prior to the 1990s), while depictions of corporal punishment have declined. For example, the literal slipper – the most common form of chastisement for characters such as Dennis, Minnie the Minx and Roger the Dodger – has become the name of the local chief of police (Sergeant Slipper).
In 1921, D. C. Thomson had first entered the field of boys' story papers with Adventure. The success of this paper led to five further publications, The Rover and The Wizard in 1922, The Vanguard in 1924, The Skipper in 1930 and The Hotspur in 1933. Although The Vanguard folded in 1926, the others were a great triumph and became known as "The Big Five"; they ended Amalgamated Press's near-monopoly of the British comic industry.
Another success was the Fun Section of D. C. Thomson's Scottish weekly newspaper The Sunday Post, which included the two strips Oor Wullie and The Broons by lead artist Dudley Watkins, as well as other funnies and various puzzles and adventure stories. This gave R. D. Low, the head of children's publications at D. C. Thomson at the time, the idea to create another Big Five, this time of comics intended for both boys and girls and consisting mainly of 'funnies' and more lighthearted adventure and text stories. With the creation of The Dandy in 1937, he placed an advertisement in The Daily Telegraph to find new artists to create weekly comic strips for his second book, and Reg Carter (who had originally published Mickey Mouse comics throughout the 1930s) responded in January 1938 with a few ideas and sketches. Carter and Low's eventual idea would be an ostrich that misplaced his eggs, which would later become Big Eggo, the first cover star of the eventually-named The Beano on 26 July 1938; the comic takes its name from the English word beano, a short form of bean-feast, a term for a festive meal, or loosely "a good time". The third paper, The Magic Comic, aimed at a slightly younger audience, followed in July 1939, but ceased publication in early 1941, due to paper rationing. Wartime shortages also prevented the New Big Five project from being completed.
The first edition of The Beano was dated 30 July 1938, and sold at two pence. It was full of comic strips (such as Lord Snooty, Wee Peem, Dead-Eyed Dick, Tin-Can Tommy) and prose stories (Ping the Elastic Man, My Dog Sandy, The Wishing Tree, etc.) and was an instant success, selling 443,000 copies that week. A facsimile of the first issue's cover was printed on the back of issue No. 2,000. Before Law's "new big five" plan, comic strips were printed in newspapers and/or a tabloid format, but the styles The Beano and The Dandy compacted their stories as well as extended them to fit 28 pages, despite selling at the same price as the traditionally-styled Amalgamated Press comics (Comic Cuts and Illustrated Chips), and also began the boys' adventure newspaper books genre decline. Issue 272 (December 1945) was the first issue to sell over a million copies.
During the Second World War, The Beano and The Dandy were published on alternating weeks because of paper and ink rationing. D. C. Thomson's other publications also suffered, with the Oor Wullie and The Broons annuals falling victim to paper and ink shortages. Paper and ink supplies were fully restored shortly after the end of hostilities and weekly publication of The Beano and The Dandy resumed in 1949.
The 3,000th issue of The Beano was published in January 2000. The Beano is now the longest-running weekly comic, since The Dandy became a fortnightly comic in 2007, and later stopped publishing in 2013.
The Beano's weekly circulation in April 1950 was 1,974,072; it currently sells slightly over 31,000 copies per week.
Many issues included a free gift inside, such as sweets, water pistols, whoopee masks, cardboard pistols, glove puppets, and other toys. The Beano celebrated its 50th anniversary with a free poster that had a timeline of the comic's history on the back. Originally, free gifts would be attached inside the cover or strategically on the front so that it could distract the buyer from other comics next to The Beano on the shelves, hopefully excited for the next issue after reading it and eating/playing with the toys. Said gifts would not be a weekly promise, especially during the Christmas period when families' money would be saved for food and presents.
The Dennis the Menace Fan Club launched on June 1976 in the strip's 25th year. Readers would send in for a 30p membership card, two badges, secret passwords, and could write to Dennis for agony aunt-type advice. A badge that a lot of readers were after was a Gnasher badge with googly eyes and a fur-like texture. The fan club was instantly popular, recalls Euan Kerr in 1984; "The club enrolled over 2000 new members every week, well into the 90s and there were similar numbers of letters and drawings." A spin-off was introduced called Gnasher's Fang Club, and Gnasher would ask readers to send him stories about their pets' adventures which could be printed into the next issue. "The mailbag of little drawings of pets was several thousand per week," remembers sub-editor Morris Heggie. "And the popularity lasted and lasted."
2018 was the 80th anniversary, so D.C. Thomson released a limited-editioned 80 Years boxset, which contained eight classic comics, a free Gnasher toy, a double-sided A1 poster with the roster of 255 characters, an A4 poster for framing, and 4 A6 art cards.
The Beano is so popular that it had its own section of the Chessington World of Adventures theme park, "Beanoland". This opened in 2000 and survived for a decade before sponsorship was eventually lost. Most of the major Beanoland attractions remain in operation today but have been rethemed as "Wild Asia".
On 19 March 2012 Royal Mail launched a special stamp collection to celebrate Britain's rich comic book history. The collection featured The Beano, The Dandy, Eagle, The Topper, Roy of the Rovers, Bunty, Buster, Valiant, Twinkle and 2000 AD.
The original editor was George Moonie from 1938 to 1959; followed by Harold Cramond from 1959 to 1984.
Euan Kerr was editor from 1984 until he handed over the reins to Alan Digby in early 2006. Digby had been Beano Chief Sub Editor when Kerr first became editor, and later edited The Beezer. Kerr has returned to edit BeanoMAX as of issue 2 (see below). Following the retirement of Kerr, Digby took over as Editor-in-Chief of both titles. Digby retired in 2011, leaving Michael Stirling as the new editor.
The following editor of The Beano was Craig Graham, who joined The Beano once The Dandy announced its closure. Upon his arrival as editor, he made many changes to The Beano.
The Beano's first major revamp was in the 50th birthday issue of 1988, when the page number was increased, the comic had a wider paper style, and more colour was used throughout. Another occurred in issue 2,674, dated 16 October 1993, when the whole comic was now printed in full colour, along with some new strips such as The Numskulls, which had been moved from The Beezer.
No major revamps happened from then until 1998, when Dennis's baby sister Bea was born. The logo was rounded and embossed (but later flattened in February 1999), and there were 8 extra pages. Computers were starting to be used for articles and speech bubbles, rather than the usual hand drawn ones.
Since April 2007, The Beano has had five revamps to help it keep up to date. The first occurred on 7 April 2007. The logo was raised using a heavy black drop shadow, and the body of the lettering and its yellow trim were separated by a subtle 3D groove effect. The website address was looped inside the "O". This logo had been used in the Beano Club for one issue in 2006. Two new comic strips were introduced, these being The Riot Squad and Fred's Bed, reprints from Hoot and The Breezer and Topper respectively. There was a record number of uncredited reprints, with the likes of Ivy the Terrible, Calamity James, Les Pretend also being reprinted.
The second happened on 27 October 2007. The logo was still grooved, but was now back to the rounded style which it had from 1999 to 2006. It was quite similar to the original rounded logo from 1998, which was flattened the following year. The number of reprint pages was cut from 4 to 2, but more started to appear after about a month. Two new strips were also added, Johnny Bean from Happy Bunny Green and London B412. The price increased to 99p across the whole UK.
The third was the least major revamp. The background was changed from one colour behind the logo and another behind the Dennis strip to one single colour or a pattern, such as red and black stripes. New fonts were being used on the front cover, and the "Pocket money price" logo had been changed to a large "WOW! 99p" which was usually placed in the top corners. No new strips were added this time, but the amount of reprints went up to 5, sometimes lowering back to 4 per week, and an extra Dennis strip was added on the inside back two pages.
The fourth revamp, which happened with the issue dated 18 October 2008, is the most major revamp to date. There was a return of Billy the Cat inside, as well as a new Super School strip by Lew Stringer. The price rose to £1.25 per issue. Different characters appear on the 'O' each week in a cleaner and tidier embossed logo. New headline fonts were introduced (CCZoinks); the balloon font was also changed to Cloudsplitter by Blambot. But the main change was the paper style, which had finally changed from newsprint to a glossy paper, much in the style of the inside pages of the then companion papers Dandy Xtreme and BeanoMAX. The only difference between these paper styles is the front cover, which was thicker on the Dandy Xtreme and BeanoMAX, but the same as the pages throughout in the weekly Beano.
As of late 2010, The Beano is printed by BGP and the comic is now in an A4 format. A mild revision of style accompanies this with balloon font changed to CCTimeSaleLower, an upper and lower case font and a much larger Beano logo on the cover. The font CCZoinks appears to have less prominence with CreativeBlockBold taking centre stage. The Beano Club was closed down in 2010 and its pages changed to Beano VIP with more online presence. The paper is still glossy, but the paper stock gives it a matte feel. At the start of 2011, the Beano VIP pages were dropped from the comic, but the online features remain.
In the issue dated 12 October 2011, there was another revamp. The comic was expanded to 36 pages, and the paper stock was made smoother. The Number 13 and The Germs strips returned as reprints. A reader's page was also reintroduced, this time titled the Menace Gallery. After two appearances, this was renamed The Treehouse.
In the issue dated 28 January 2012, The Beano's cover changed. The logo was now more like the logo from 1972–1998, but with "The" inside the B much like later versions of the logo. The special "O"s that had appeared sometimes in the last year were also kept. The first panel of the Dennis & Gnasher strip also appeared on the cover, like from 1972 to 2008, but the "This Week in Beanotown" feature still appeared across the bottom.
In late 2012, Craig Graham took over as Beano editor and revamped the comic. As a result, two mini-strip pages titled "Funsize Funnies" were introduced and featured Simply Smiffy, Rasher, Little Plum, Les Pretend, Pup Parade, Baby Face Finlayson as well as two new strips Gnash Gnews and Winston and also introduced artists such as Wilbur Dawbarn (who took over Billy Whizz from Nick Brennan), Lew Stringer (not seen in the Beano since Super School), Alexander Matthews, Paul Palmer and Nigel Auchterlounie. Auchterlounie soon took over writing Dennis the Menace and Gnasher also which had returned to its pre-2009 style with new characters from the 2009 TV series. In January 2013, Biffo the Bear, Pansy Potter, Lord Snooty and Gnipper were added to the Funsize Funnies, introducing Graham Howie to the Beano and being the return of Wayne Thompson. Later that year, two new comic strips were added called Big Time Charlie and Tricky Dicky (relaunch of the classic Topper star) and Stunt Gran, BamBeanos, BSK CCTV joined the Funsize Funnies replacing Gnash Gnews, Pup Parade and Pansy Potter. Puzzle pages frequently appeared in the comic now, with Jamie Smart and Lew Stringer originally drawing the puzzles, and later on other artists such as Steve Beckett and Barrie Appleby.
Gnashional Menace Day and the 70th birthday
As a celebration, in partnership with the CLIC Sargent charity, 2 August 2008 was Gnashional Menace Day, where children were sponsored to behave like Dennis. The anniversary was also celebrated with a 40-page issue (instead of 32 pages; the 60th birthday issue also had extra pages, 48 instead of 24) guest edited by Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, price £1.50 (not 99p) and an issue of Classics from the Comics devoted to The Beano. There is also a special 64-page book available, The Beano Special Collectors Edition: 70 Years of Fun, giving a brief history of the comic. In The Beano's home city of Dundee, a special exhibition was held at the University of Dundee featuring original artwork and other memorabilia loaned from D.C. Thomson – it ran until 20 September 2008. In London The Cartoon Museum showed the exhibition Beano and Dandy Birthday Bash! from 30 July to 2 November 2008, featuring original artwork from all eight decades of both The Beano and The Dandy, including work by Dudley D. Watkins, David Law, Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid as well as David Sutherland and many contemporary artists. There were events for children throughout August. There was also a special coffee table book, The History of The Beano: The Story So Far, published by Waverly Books.
75th anniversary, changes
In the 75th Anniversary Special, The Beano had yet another revamp introducing celebrities as regular characters. As a result, all of the Funsize Funnies as well as the two new recently added comic strips Tricky Dicky and Big Time Charlie plus the reprinted Calamity James were all dropped. Bananaman came out of Geering reprints after being in them for over a year with Wayne Thompson reprising the role of artist after drawing him previously in The Dandy from 2010 to 2012. Roger the Dodger was taken over by Jamie Smart and Ball Boy was taken over by Alexander Matthews and completely relaunched. Nigel Auchterlounie also took over as scriptwriter of The Bash Street Kids and Bananaman, as well as now both writing and drawing The Numskulls which itself had had a huge relaunch with one-off celebrities replacing the role of Edd starting with Ant and Dec.
12-year-old artist Zoom Rockman also joined The Beano in this issue, drawing Skanky Pigeon which appeared monthly. In the issue after the 75th Anniversary Special, fourteen new comic strips joined The Beano with twelve of these becoming the new Funsize Funnies stories, all of which are parodies of either a celebrity or television show: High School Moozical, Neigh-Bours, Celebrity Believe It or Not, I Pity the School, Murs Attacks, Ashley's Banjo, Coronation Bleat, Jose's Back, Simon's Bowel, Guess Who?, Watch-Hog and Danny Diddly O'Donoghue as well as two new one-page stories to replace Tricky Dicky and Big Time Charlie: El Poco Loco and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turkeys.
Stu Munro also took over as both puzzle page artist (as he did in The Dandy) and The Dandy's Madvertisements were brought back with Stu Munro once again drawing them. Since the 75th Anniversary Special revamp, The Beano has now gained Andy Fanton, Stephen Waller, Dean Rankine, Garry Davies and Rick Eades all from The Dandy and the only original Beano artists that remain in the comic are David Sutherland, Laura Howell and Nigel Parkinson since Barrie Appleby, Barry Glennard, Hunt Emerson and Dave Eastbury all appear to have gone.
There were several milestone releases for the 80th anniversary in 2018. As well as the 80th Year boxset full of prizes, issue 3945 was guest edited by actor-turned children's author David Walliams and had a large crossover story about Bash Street School opening the Beanotown's 1938 time capsule and discovering a map, which leads to robots and a giant tentacle monster breaking out to attack the residents. There was also a flashback panel of the time capsule being sealed which featured a handful of comic strip characters from the first issue, later helping the present day characters discover how to defeat the tentacle monster, named Simon.
The Beano was also the face of the 2018 Summer Reading Challenge, called Mischief Makers, which included a special Dennis the Menace novel tie-in called Dennis the Menace and the Chamber of Mischief by Beano artist Nigel Auchterlounie. The Dennis the Menace Fan Club was re-launched as a phone app, rebranded as The Dennis and Gnasher Fan Club, and allowed readers free membership, printable badges, and pranks. On television, the Sky Kids show SO Beano! aired; a TV show with special guests, children presenters, and fun and games, in a similar style to Friday Download and Scrambled!
Classic comics also returned in a three-panel format in issues, mostly starring Big Eggo, Biffo the Bear and two special holiday books were published: a summer special and a Christmas special. Meanwhile, the 2019 annual included a double-page inner front and back cover full of 255 characters that have appeared over the comic's publications.
A number of strips in the comic have run for a very long time. The top five longest running Beano comic strips are, in descending order, Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, Bash Street Kids, Roger the Dodger, and then the last holder of the title before Dennis, Lord Snooty. Dennis the Menace's famous red and black jersey had formed the colours of a few of the Beano characters' clothes (Minnie the Minx has the same, although the placement of the stripes is a bit different; Ball Boy's was a vertical red and black; Roger the Dodger has a chessboard design top, and Danny (from the Bash Street Kids) has a similar cap), but they have changed for Minnie and Ball Boy (Minnie at one point had a red and yellow top and Ball Boy's strip is now black and blue).
There are frequent fictional crossovers between Beano characters, with most of the characters living in the fictional Beanotown. Many of the comic strips in The Dandy are drawn by the same artists, and crossovers between the two comic magazines also occur occasionally. Quite often, one magazine will make a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the other (e.g., a character meeting an elderly lady, and stating that she's "older than the jokes in The Dandy"). In the strips, it is expressed that the two towns are rivals with each other and before The Dandy did a drastic format change they had an embassy in Beanotown which many of the town's citizens attempted to overrun, but failed (the embassy had no existence in The Beano). This rivalry inspired the spin-off computer game Beanotown Racing, in which various characters from both comics could be raced around points in Beanotown, including the Embassy. The game was given a large amount of advance publicity in the comics, with storylines often revolving how the characters each acquired his/her vehicle.
Occasionally there are longer than usual strips, for example, a strip of sixteen pages rather than the usual two pages. These longer strips include The Bash Street Kids Adventures written and drawn by Kev F Sutherland which since 2004 have featured parodies of famous comic strip images, including Amazing Fantasy's first Spider-Man cover, Action Comics' first Superman cover, and most recently the cover of X-Men No. 100.
During the 1980s, The Beano ran a 'Readers' Request' feature where readers could request for a particular comic strip to feature in the Beano. This led to the return of dropped characters, including Little Plum, Baby Face Finlayson and The McTickles, but also led to the introduction of new strips such as Little Monkey.
Reader polls started to appear in the 1990s, allowing the readers to rate the strips in the comic. These polls have been quite influential, as they indicate which strips the readers like best, and strips that have performed poorly in these polls were usually dropped.
On a number of occasions, The Beano has allowed its readers to vote for which new strips they want to appear in the comic. This usually consists of three new comic strips being run for a number of weeks and the readers can vote on which strips they prefer and the one that receives the most votes stays in The Beano. Readers have been able to cast their votes via telephone, or more recently viaThe Beano website.
The first such vote occurred in 1995 with Vic Volcano emerging as the winner. In the 1997 competition, two new strips were added permanently, with Tim Traveller winning and Crazy for Daisy the runner-up. By the early 2000s, these competitions were named Comic Idol (in reference to Pop Idol). In the 2004 competition, the margin between winner Joe Jitsu and runner-up Colin the Vet was 1%, so both strips were added to the comic.
The most recent incarnation in 2010 featured three new strips, Meebo and Zuky, Home Invasion, and Uh oh Si Co!. Meebo and Zuky won, with Home Invasion finishing as runner-up, though only Meebo and Zuky were added to the comic. In 2011, the Dandy did a similar competition where readers voted for their favourite out of four strips, entitled Strictly Come Laughing (a reference to Strictly Come Dancing).
Since 1982 the comic, along with The Dandy, has also run "Comic Library" titles. Released monthly, these titles are a feature-length (usually about 64-page) adventure, featuring a character from the comic itself. They are available in A5 size only. In 1998, these were replaced by the Fun Size Beano. Fun Size Comics were discontinued in late 2010.
The comic also ran A4-sized Beano Specials in 1987 with full coloured pages, which later were replaced by Beano Superstars which ran for 121 issues from 1992–2002. These were similar to the Comic Library series. Some of the last issues were printed versions of episodes from the 1996–1998 Dennis and Gnasher animated TV series. A Beano Poster Comic series was also printed in the early 1990s.
The Beano Specials returned in 2003, and are now published seasonally. The issues were numbered, and the first one was a Dennis and Friends special, the last a Christmas reprint special. These were replaced by BeanoMAX in early 2007.
On 15 February 2007, the first issue of a monthly comic entitled BeanoMAX was published. The sister comic features many of the same characters; however, the stories in BeanoMAX are written in a longer format meant for 10- to 13-year-olds. The first issue was a Comic Relief special featuring assorted celebrity guests. The magazine has been rebranded several times since 2013, and is currently known as EPIC Magazine.
Plug was a comic based on the eponymous character from The Bash Street Kids that began with issue dated 24 September 1977, and is notable for being the first comic to make use of rotogravure printing. The magazine similar in style to I.P.C's Krazy which had started the previous year. It contained uncharacteristically outlandish material for D C. Thomson, as well as later including celebrity appearances in the comic.
The comic revealed Plug's full name to be Percival Proudfoot Plugsley and also gave him a pet monkey by the name of Chumkee. Plug's strip was mostly drawn by Vic Neill but other artists, including Dave Gudgeon drew some later strips. Other strips included Antchester United, Violent Elizabeth, Eebagoom, Hugh's Zoo and D'ye Ken John Squeal and his Hopeless Hounds.
The venture was unsuccessful, in part because the comic cost 9p, with the Beano at the time only costing 4p and most of its rivals priced similarly. It merged with The Beezer on 24 February 1979.
Dennis and Gnasher
The brand new Dennis and Gnasher was launched separately from The Beano in September 2009.
Dennis and Gnasher got their own TV series on CBBC from 7 September 2009 to accompany the comic's new look. This was their second, having also had one in 1996, which ran for two series on CBBC, The Children's Channel, and Fox Kids. It also marked the debut of this Dennis in the US, as The Beano is not distributed in the US and the title is taken by the newspaper comic strip- the series aired from 10 October 2010 to 10 December 2013 on what was then known as The Hub (now renamed Discovery Family).
44-page special issue 4062, with cover date 21 November 2020, during a lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic had an eight-page adult pullout named BeanOLD, with cartoons poking fun at British politicians such as Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, and with appearances by Greta Thunberg, Captain Tom, and footballer Marcus Rashford. The slogan was "2020 has been tough. So tough that even grown-ups need Beano".
On 8 June 2016, it was announced via a press release that The Beano would now form a studio under their name. The studio would be used to bring their characters to life via other forms of media, such as television, film and live performances, to allow their properties to be distributed around the world for all audiences. Soon after the announcement of the studio's formation, news was released about a new television series based upon the company's famous Dennis the Menace property which, unlike its previous versions, would be created in CGI rather than the classic 2D-style drawing. The studio would also revamp the website beano.com. On 6 November 2017 the first series of Dennis & Gnasher: Unleashed! was aired on CBBC and in February 2019 it was announced that CBBC had ordered a further 52 episodes.
- The Beano Summer Special
- The Beano Annual
- Beano album – popular name for Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966) as Clapton is reading the comic in the cover photo
- List of magazines published in Scotland
- MAD magazine
- British comics
- List of Beano comic strips
- List of Beano comic strips by annual
- The Beano timeline
- Beano Video
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When Beanotown suddenly becomes Boring-town Dennis decides to take action. Rediscovering the legendary Peashooter of Everlasting Fun is his only hope, even if it means he has to face the ferocious Gnashersaurus rex to do it! His quest leads him to the mysterious Chamber of Mischief, a tricky labyrinth of puzzles and games – which Dennis needs YOU to solve. Join Dennis, Gnasher, Minnie the Minx and Walter on this interactive adventure and help restore Beanotown's unpredictable awesomeness!
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