80 years ago, just before the start of the Second World War, a new comic appeared in Scotland – The Beano, published by DC Thomson, who to their credit still retain offices in Fleet Street, one of the last publishers to do so as the big firms have all moved out.
The Beano is the longest-running British comic and it’s success it due to how it has changed over the years to appeal to a new generation of readers. Yes, when I was young it, along the the Dandy, were essential reading – in those days, each cost 3d (2.5p) and were an essential pocket-money expense (and negotiation). You couldn’t wait to see what the Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, Lord Snooty and the Bash Street Kids were up to this week.
In 1950, the Beano’s weekly circulation was astonishingly just short of 2 million, quite a feat, and in 2019 the 4000th anniversary edition will be published. I should have kept all those old editions from my childhood – what would they be worth now?
The characters have now moved into digital media, but it is not the same. Celebrating 80 years of The Beano at the V&A, key characters are waiting for you on the staircase while the exhibition includes preparatory layout, script and artwork for edition no 3913 published in December 2017.
Amusingly, there are accusations that Jacob Rees Mogg is developing his identity based on Walter the Softy. What do you think?