Who remembers the Beano comic?
Well in 1951 Dennis the Menace appeared for the first time… Well a long time has passed and Dennis is still strong in today’s comic strip.
Dennis and Gnasher (previously titled Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, and originally titled Dennis the Menace) is a long-running comic strip in the British children’s comic The Beano, published by DC Thomson, of Dundee, Scotland. The comic stars a boy named Dennis the Menace and his Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound Gnasher.
The strip first appeared in issue 452, dated 17 March 1951 (on sale 12 March 1951), and is the longest-running strip in the comic. The idea and name of the character emerged when the comic’s editor heard a British music hall song with the chorus “I’m Dennis the Menace from Venice”. The creation of Dennis in the 1950s saw sales of The Beano soar. From issue 1678 onwards (dated 14 September 1974) Dennis the Menace replaced Biffo the Bear on the front cover and has been there ever since.
Coincidentally, on 12 March 1951, another comic strip named Dennis the Menace debuted in the US. As a result of this, the US series has initially been retitled Dennis for UK audiences, while the British character’s appearances are often titled Dennis and Gnasher outside the UK.
Dennis is the archetypal badly behaved schoolboy. The main recurring storyline throughout the years features his campaign of terror against a gang of ‘softies’ (effeminate, well-behaved boys), particularly Walter. Walter finds himself in unfavourable circumstances on many occasions, although he sometimes gets the last laugh. Author Michael Rosen states, “In most children’s books a bad child gets made good – but the great thing about Dennis is he never gets better.”
Dennis the Menace and Gnasher were first drawn by David Law (1951–1970), then David Sutherland (1970–1998). David Parkins took over in 1998, but due to his other work commitments, Nigel Parkinson and Jimmy Hansen have drawn the lion’s share of the strips for some years, and Parkins has not drawn Dennis since 2006. More recently, Tom Paterson has drawn some second Dennis strips for the comic’s rear pages.
Barrie Appleby did the artwork for the Beano Superstars series, which, towards the end of its run, resorted mostly to strips based on the TV series. In 2011, he took over as Dennis’s main artist. Upon the November revamp of The Beano, Nigel Parkinson took over as Dennis artist as Barrie Appleby had moved back to drawing new episodes of Roger the Dodger. During this revamp, Dennis was returned to his previous appearance and personality – Nigel Auchterlounie began writing for Dennis a month after and made Dennis (and the other characters) have wider personalities. Nigel Auchterlounie has proven to be a very popular writer since taking over Dennis. Dennis and Gnasher have remained mascots of The Beano.