First Issue: 30th July 1938
Last Issue: N/A
Copyright: DC Thomson
Inspired by the success of The Dandy (4th December 1937), The Beano Comic, as it was originally known, appeared on July 30th 1938. The Beano Comic’s first issue had seven full text stories, six conventional stories whereby the text appeared under the strip and the rest of the comic was composed of the groundbreaking technique of using speech bubbles within the strips. The success of both The Beano and The Dandy which both survive today is fortuitous due to the fact that they were released immediately prior to the outbreak of the Second World war in 1939. During the war, as Uncle Albert would say (Only fools and Horses), laws were drafted that led to a ban on the introduction of new publications and a rationing of paper supplies for existing publications.
Due to the growing success of The Beano Comic along with its sister paper, The Dandy, The Amalgamated Press, who were competitors of D C Thomson at the time, launched two rival comics using a similar format to The Beano and The Dandy. Radio Fun was launched on 15th October 1938 and knockout on 4th March 1939. Although the Beano and The Dandy are still being published to this present day, Radio Fun and Knockout ended their days in the early 1960s. D C Thomson also launched a third comic (22nd July 1939) called The Magic Comic but this was short lived due to increased market saturation during that period.
With the advent of the Second World War in 1939, many of the Beano characters were conscripted to help in the fight against the Nazi’s. Lord Snooty and his pals were often seen pitting their wits against Adolf Hitler and winning. Characters such as Pansy Potter, The Strongman’s Daughter and Lord Snooty & his pals helped encourage children to do their bit for the war by saving waste paper and metal.
The Beano also helped to teach the children about the dangers of playing with unexploded munitions whilst making light of what was a frightening situation for young children. With many dangers at sea and most raw materials going towards the war effort, there were soon paper shortages which led to the Beano appearing fortnightly instead of weekly.
On 17th June 1950, the name of the comic changed from The Beano Comic to simply The Beano. This change in name served to underscore what is considered to be the most innovative and fertile decade of The Beano’s history, the 1950’s. In 1951 came the entrance of “The World’s Wildest Boy”, Dennis the Menace drawn by David Law. In Dennis the readership had a hero whose job in life was to make adults’ lives a misery.
April 1953 saw the arrival of Roger the Dodger penned by Ken Reid and later the same year the girls had their own anti-hero in the form of Minnie the Minx (Leo Baxendale). The pen of Leo Baxendale was seen in action again in February 1954 with the first appearance of the Bash street Kids in a strip called “When the Bell Rings” and in June 1959 with “The Three Bears”. Many more characters have been introduced since the golden age of the comic many of which have joined existing strips such as Gnasher, Rasher and Bea.