A Brief History of 'The Beano', Scotland's Beloved Comic

The Beano
The Beano | © Charles Dyer/Flickr
Tori Chalmers

When the word ‘Beano’ is uttered, thoughts of Dennis the Menace, Beryl the Peril and the Bash Street Kids spring to mind, along with glorious childhood memories and a hefty dose of nostalgia. More than just a comic, however, a legacy as long as Dennis’ misdemeanours sits amidst the witty puns, hilarious happenings and endearing characters.
First published on July 30, 1938, The Beano is one of the most popular and best selling comic strips to date and has appeared in over 3500 editions. The brainchild of DC Thomson, a publishing house based in Dundee responsible for producing over 200 million comics, magazines and newspapers annually, there’s no denying its status as a beloved pride and joy of Scotland.

Dennis the Menace and Gnasher

The Beano, which was initially pinned as a boys’ comic, is now regarded gender-neutral. From 1921 onward, DC Thompson gained appreciation for creating the ‘Big Five’, a series of popular story papers for boys. Riding on this success, the ‘Fun Section’ of the Scottish weekly newspaper The Sunday Post introduced the iconic strips Oor Wullie and The Broons by prolific artist Dudley Watkins. This welcomed response led to the birth of The Dandy and The Beano. Today, only five copies of the very first Beano issue remain, one of which was auctioned in 2004 for £12,400.

Vintage Comics

A testament to the comic’s enduring success, the year 2000 saw the 3000th Beano issue. Diehard enthusiasts will note the great number of revamps over the years – some tiny, others significantly larger. Those with a discerning eye will also spy the occasional crossover between Beano characters, seeing as they all live in the fictional land of Beanotown.

The name ‘Beano’ is an English word that literally translates to ‘a grand old time’ or ‘a bean feast’ (an annual feast for workmen in the UK during the 19th century, courtesy of their bosses).

Throughout the years, a number of editors have taken the wheel at The Beano, the first being George Moonie in 1938. Craig Graham, the current editor, took the reins in 2012. In turn, the vast majority of the most famous Beano characters are the masterpieces of esteemed Scottish comic artists.

Beano blast from the past

When it comes to The Beano, anarchic humour reigns free. Look at Dennis, the despicable and disrespectful rogue with a serious distaste for authority; or Roger, with his dishonest tongue. With time, various tweaks have occurred in tandem with shifts in social trends.

To commemorate The Beano‘s 70th birthday, August 2, 2008 was declared Gnashional Menace Day. Children were sponsored to mimic Dennis and a special 40-page issue – guest edited by longtime Beano fan and Wallace and Gromit creator, Nick Park – was also published.

Unwavering in appeal, 2016 saw the arrival of beano.com, an online platform for kids (and grown-ups) to experience the enchanting nature of The Beano wherever they may go.

Dennis gathering wood for a bonfire

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,665 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article