The Beano comic
is a long-running British
, published by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd
The comic first appeared on 26 July 1938 and was published weekly, during the Second World War, The Beano and The Dandy were published on alternating weeks due to 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 soon followed. As of 2007, over 3000 issues have been published. The Beano is currently edited by Alan Digby, who replaced Euan Kerr in summer 2006. Euan Kerr now edits the BeanoMAX, a version of the Beano for older readers.
Its iconic characters such as Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, and The Bash Street Kids have become known to generations of British children. Earlier generations will remember other notable characters which have been phased out, such as Lord Snooty and Biffo.
The comics were distributed in some of the British colonies or former colonies as well. Because they were sent by seamail, they would go on sale some weeks after the date shown on the cover.
A number of strips in the comic have run for a very long time. The top five longest running Beano comic strips are, in ascending order, Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, Bash Street Kids, Roger the Dodger and, 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 had the exact same top, Ball Boy's strip 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 the colours have changed for Minnie and Ball Boy (Minnie at one point had a red and yellow top and Ball Boy's strip now being black and blue).
There are frequent fictional crossovers between The Beano and Dennis and Gnasher, 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 comics and The Beano also occur occasionally. Quite often, one comic 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).
The Bash Street Kids Adventures written and drawn by Kev F Sutherland 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 #100. Sutherland created the rival schools to Bash Street, St Posho's and St Asbo's. He also revived old characters from the archives including Biffo the Bear, Keyhole Kate, Pansy Potter The Strongman's Daughter, and Desert Island Dick.
The Beano comic takes its name from the English word beano which can be loosely interpreted as a good time.
The first edition of The Beano was dated 30 July 1938, and the 3000th issue was published in January 2000. It continues as of 2008, and so far (September 2008) there have been 3449 issues published. There are only 12 known copies of the first issue in existence, and only 5 known copies of the second issue (not including facsimiles).
A copy of this first issue sold for £12,100 on 16 March 2004, which was at the time thought to be the highest price ever paid for a British comic at an auction. The current highest price is £20,350 which was paid for the first issue of The Dandy on 7 September 2004. The Beano is also the second longest running comic, the first being The Dandy, which is also published by the same publisher.
The Beano is so popular that it has its own theme park, Beanoland, at Chessington World of Adventures. This opened in 2000, but is under threat of closure as the contract will expire at the end of 2008.
The original editor was George Moonie, from 1938-1959, followed by Harold Cramond, 1959-84. Euan Kerr was editor from 1984 until he handed over to Alan Digby
in early 2006. Alan had been Beano Chief Sub Editor when Euan first became editor, and later edited The Beezer
. Euan has returned to edit BeanoMAX
as of issue 2 (see below).
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
, which still runs today, although they became reprints in 2006.
The comic also ran A4-sized Beano Specials
in the early 1990s, which later were renamed Beano Superstars
. These were similar to the Comic Library series. The last few 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 were 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 aimed for 10-13 year olds. The first issue was a Comic Relief
special featuring assorted celebrity
Since April 2007, the Beano has had three revamps to help it keep up to date.
The first occurred on April 7
2007. The logo was made to seem it was jumping out, and was embossed using Photoshop
. The website address was looped inside the "O". This logo had been used in the Beano Club for one issue in 2006.
Also in this issue, there was a record number of uncredited reprints
, with the likes of Ivy the Terrible
, Calamity James
, Les Pretend
, Riot Squad
and Fred's Bed
now being reprinted. In certain areas of the UK, such as Lancashire
, the price was risen to 99p, while elsewhere it remained as 85p.
The second happened on October 27
. The logo was still Photshop embossed, but was now back to the rounded style which it had from 1999-2006. It was quite similar to the orginal 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
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.
Gnashional Menace Day and the 70th Birthday
The 70th anniversary issue of the Beano will have a cover date of August 2nd 2008. As a celebration, in partnership with the CLIC Sargent
charity, August 2nd will be Gnashional Menace Day, where children are sponsored to behave like Dennis. The anniversary will also be 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, this has also happened to The Dandy on one occasion, see here
) 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
, telling a brief history of the comic. In the Beano's home city of Dundee, a special exhibition is being held at the University of Dundee
featuring original artwork and other memorabilia loaned from D C Thomson - it runs until 20 September 2008. In London the Cartoon Museum will be showing the exhibition Beano and Dandy Birthday Bash!
from 30 July to 2 November 2008. It will show 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 will be events for children throughout August.