|Cover art by Nigel Parkinson.|
Some might have expected it to be a retrospective issue, but that requirement is covered by the Beano: 80 Years of Fun bookazine (or even better in the box set with 8 facsimile back issues). The weekly Beano is aimed squarely at the kids, so it's lively and story-led.
It is still somewhat special though. It has 8 extra pages, is guest-edited by David Walliams (known to a lot of kids for his children's books as well as his X-Factor appearances) and includes an extra-length story featuring Beano stars past and present.
Sadly, the extra-length story has pushed out Big Eggo this week, but he'll be back the week after.
How has the Beano survived when all other traditional humour comics have long gone? I think it's down to two main factors...
The Beano has maintained the same core characters since the 1950s; Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids, and Roger the Dodger. (Add Billy Whizz to that too, who's been running - pardon the pun, - since 1964.) Other strips come and go, but those five strips are constant. Parents and grandparents recognise those characters and the "Beano style" so they feel confident that the comic is suitable for their kids.
Other comics, such as The Dandy, Buster, and Whizzer and Chips, retained a few core characters but mostly used to bring in new characters all the time. This meant the identity of the comics changed somewhat, being the same in name only. That said, The Dandy's 75 year run was nothing to be sniffed at.
By maintaining the brand, everyone knows what the Beano is and regards the core characters as friends. Even better, that they interact within each other's strips and all live in 'Beanotown'.
2) Adapting to change.
Although maintaining a recognisable 'Beano brand', the comic has also changed with the times so that new generations can relate to it. Dennis is no longer the bully who picks on 'softy' Walter and ends up getting spanked. That type of character became tired and outdated years ago, and modern Dennis is more likeable albeit still mischievous. The Beano has a more diverse mix of characters now too, and subsequently is appealing to a more balanced mixture of both boys and girls.
Maintaining the status quo and adapting with the times isn't an easy balance to take but the Beano has achieved it and proves to still be a popular read. (Sales have even increased in recent times.)
So... Happy Birthday to the Beano and long may it reign!