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Beano celebrates 70 Years of Dennis

Beano celebrates 70 Years of Dennis

Today the iconic Beano comic is celebrating 70 years of its most famous character and the nation’s favourite ten-year-old, Dennis. 

Instantly recognisable with his red and black striped jumper and spikey black hair, the character first skyrocketed to fame after appearing in a Beano strip on 17th March 1951 and has been entertaining generations of children ever since. 

A commemorative issue of the comic, guest edited by TV star and prankster extraordinaire Joe Sugg, is available in stores today (Wednesday 17th March). The 48-page bumper edition of the comic includes multiple strips penned by Sugg himself. 

In ‘Birthday Prankaggeddon’ Sugg teams up with Dennis to unleash the ultimate prank on the residents of Beanotown, including a Dennis transformation of his girlfriend Dianne Buswell’s hair. Part of the strip storyline was inspired by an episode of the 1990s Dennis animated series that Joe watched as a child. The comic also features a four-part strip ‘I am Dennis’ which sees the whole of Beanotown unleash their inner Dennis to save their favourite mischief-maker from a dastardly plot by the Mayor and Walter Brown.

The special issue also features a pull-out Menace Family Tree poster which traces Dennis’s heritage and celebrates the many generations of Dennis who have entertained children over the last 70 years. The ultimate collectible for fans, it confirms that Dennis’s dad is the 1980s-era Dennis grown-up and his grandad is in fact the original 1951 Dennis. It also reveals some new ancestors of Dennis including Pranks and Prejudice author Jane Aus-Den, rebel Dennis Fawkes and the prehistoric Menacesaurus.

To celebrate the anniversary, Beano has also revealed 70 facts (full list in notes to editors) about the nation’s favourite rebel. 

Top 25 facts about Dennis 
1Dennis was born when the editor of Beano, George Moonie, heard a music hall song called “Dennis the Menace from Venice”.
2Dennis’s surname is actually Menace. Mum and Dad are Sandra and Dennis Menace.
3Dennis arrived in Beano No. 452, dated March 17, 1951.
4The American comic strip of the same name debuted in US newspapers in exactly the same week… a complete coincidence!
5Dennis lives at 51 Gasworks Road, Beanotown.
6Dennis’ birthday is March 17 – although he’s always 10 years old.
7Dennis’ first comic-strip appearance showed him walking into the park with his father, where a sign is planted informing visitors that they should ‘Keep Off the Grass’ – his first brush with killjoy grown-up rules!
8The CBBC CGI animated series Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed! First aired in November 2017 and is now in its second series.
9Dennis didn’t wear his iconic red and black jumper in the first comic –he wore a shirt and – horror – tie!
10Dennis’s fan club has over a million members, including Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movie franchise.
11The first three artists to draw Dennis were all called David.
12Dennis’ legendary dog Gnasher is an Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound.
13Dennis found Gnasher wandering the streets of Beanotown in 1968.
14The instruction to the artist first tasked with drawing Gnasher was to ‘take Dennis’s hair then give it a face and four legs’.
15Dennis was billed as the “World’s Wildest Boy”.
16When George Moonie wanted to introduce more rebellious kid characters, he started with Minnie the Minx, ‘a female version of Dennis the Menace’.
17Dennis and Minnie first appeared together in the same comic strip in 1954.
18Dennis acquires his iconic striped jumper in April 1951, although his friend Curly is seen sporting it in earlier episodes.
19Dennis’s jumper is red and black because those were the two strongest colours of ink available to printers in the 1950s.
20It was revealed in 2015 (issue 3932) that Dennis’s father was the Dennis the Menace from the 1980s.
21Dennis replaced Biffo the Bear as Beano’s cover star in 1974.
22In 1993 on the cover of Beano No. 2674, Dennis used a hosepipe to spray the whole cast of the comic with technicolour paint, marking the first Beano to be printed in full colour throughout.  
23Dennis’ first cover story consisted of him using the issue’s free gift, the Happy Howler, to torment people at an opera.
24Dennis has a little sister Bea, who was born in issue 2931, dated 19 September 1998. She got her own comic strip – Beaginnings – in issue 2935.
25The original Dennis and the new Dennis have subtly different designs. The order of the red and black hoops on their jerseys are opposite – the original Dennis wore black-red-black-red from the collar down. Today’s Dennis wears red-black-red-black from the collar down.

Famed long-time Dennis artist, Nigel Parkinson, has also drawn ‘the Evolution of Dennis’; a bespoke illustration commissioned by Beano demonstrating the subtle changes to the character’s appearance over the decades.  

Mike Stirling, Editorial Director of Beano Studios said: “We’re celebrating 70 years of Britain’s favourite ten-year-old! For 70 years, the Menace family has been spreading laughs and unique Beano cheer across multiple generations of children and adults alike. It’s fantastic to see the impact today’s Dennis has on kids, just like his dad and grandad did before him for readers in the 50’s-80’s.

We believe that everyone has a little bit of the Dennis spirit within them, so this March 17th, on his birthday, we’re encouraging everyone to be more DENNIS for one day to see how many laughs and smiles you can spread.”

The special edition comic also celebrates Dennis fans young and old with a special fan page. It features readers such as Jack from London who sent in a picture of him alongside his grandad Jack wearing Dennis’ iconic red and black stripes.

To say thank-you to Joe Sugg for being guest editor of the special comic Beano has gifted him the cover art as a NFT (Non Fungible Token) making him the first to own a Beano cover in this digital form.

For fans wanting to experience Dennis’s birthday celebrations, this Easter visitors to Kew and Wakehurst can enjoy Dennis & Gnasher’s Big Bonanza, including a giant 3D Beano comic strip and an interactive trail where you can join Dennis and his friends on a mission. This autumn, the festivities will continue at Somerset House with Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules; a major exhibition featuring original comic drawings, never previously seen in public and rare archive artefacts, alongside works from leading contemporary artists who embody the Beano spirit of rebellion. Dennis’s milestone has also been marked with his own dedicated tartan. Created by  tartan rebels Prickly Thistle, the range goes on sale today. More celebrations will be announced in the coming months.

About The Author

Rebecca Ash

Rebecca is the Editorial Director at Total Licensing Ltd. She can be reached at becky@totallicensing.com

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