Supermarkets across the country can expect to see a sudden shortage of candles today, as the nation celebrates the 80th birthday of a cultural icon: yes, it’s The Beano’s big day!
The comic, which is the same age as Bernie Madoff, Joyce Carol Oates, and Kofi Annan, slid into pre-war newsagents up and down the United Kingdom in 1938. Since then, successive generations of future illustrators and artists have spent long nights under their duvets basking in the giddy glow of the Bash Street Kids’ latest antics, a torchlit Les Pretend sowing the creative seeds of the near future.
Having outlasted its closest rival, the always oddly dowdy Dandy, Dennis and the rest of the motley crew that make up The Beano can have a big night out later, safe in the knowledge that they’re sitting pretty at the top of the kids’ comics tree.
Over the years, The Beano has given us some of the most visually memorable figures of the 20th century – Plug! Calamity James! Billy Whizz! Minnie the Minx! Ivy the Terrible! – and the comic has decided to step firmly into the 21st by introducing a brand new app-only fan club. A prank-heavy digital offering, the revamped Dennis and Gnasher Fan Club is available to download now, and presumably retains the pleasantly innocent feel that The Beano has always carried with it.
There’s something distinctly pre-modern about The Beano and perhaps that’s where the continued appeal – for some readers at least – lies. It is Just William with a slightly naughtier edge. You get the sense that neither Fortnite nor Facebook exist in whatever parallel universe the Numskulls find themselves in.
Before downloading the app, or rushing out to the nearest Co-op to catch up on whatever madcap hi-jinks Roger the Dodger’s up to this week, why not dip into the It’s Nice That archive and see what The Beano illustrator Kev F Sutherland had to say about drawing for the comic.
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