Q. What is Beano?
A. Beano is a dietary supplement that helps prevent gas. Beano contains a food enzyme from a natural source that works with your bodyâ€™s digestion to break down the complex sugars in gassy foods making them more digestible. It is the only natural product available that can help prevent gas.
Fnarr fnarr – no good to Johnny Fartpants then.
Of course we Brits know better; The Beano is actually a Great British Institution and today it’s an OAP; that’s right 65 years old. I never thought that Lord Snooty, Dennis the Menace & Gnasher, Minnie the Minx and all their pals would still be around at this time. But when you are seven you don’t think too far ahead. Sunday mornings we would all go to ‘the papershop’ – dodging the hoards of News of The World readers shielding the latest Nude Vicar expose from our young eyes as they headed off to the pub. The Beano front pages were, and still are, deliciously drawn; full of exuberance, colour and life – you just needed to buy it. Comic colour printing in the 70’s was still fairly primitive and for The Beano, aimed at seven year olds with pocket money burning a hole in their shorts – this meant most of the the stories were in one or two colours only but when you’ve never seen full colour lithography that doesn’t matter – it’s the stories that count after all.
Beanotown is a distillation of British life. Like the stripes on Dennis’s jumper, everything is clearly demarcated and polarised. No blurring of boundaries here – Gnasher is truly the doggiest dog a boy could have. The Bash Street Kids were truly the ‘class from hell’ before the term was ever invented. Dads are always avuncular uncomprehending authority figures who wear suits. Teachers still wear mortarboards and slap up feeds consist of piles of mashed potato with sausages sticking out – no Big Macs or sundried polenta in sight. Many of the stories too seem to be prophetic. Minnie the Minx invented ‘Girl Power’ 20 years before the Spice Girls were even born.
[ Strangely Gnasher produced five daughters in 1986: Gnorah, Gnancy, Gnaomi, Gnatasha and Gnanette. 5 out of control bitch dogs? nah they didn't release their first single until 1996 ] Billy Whizz anticipated the instant delivery culture of cyberspace too.
Funnily enough Billy was a favourite of mine and I continue to model myself on him today.
My only gripe with the present Beano is the character of Dennis the Menace. Dennis, from the time he first appeared in the early 50’s has a slightly thuggish wild boy look. Although the character evolved over the years he retained that slightly out of control and unpredictable quality. The Dennis drawings I remember from the seventies now look crude compared with today’s character but I think the roughness around the edges contributed to the menace factor. He’s just a bit too cute now methinks.
So many happy returns Beano.
I must away now to reload my peashooter.
Paul Morris’s Beano site – delightful with some truly Geekoid bits. I nicked the Billy Whizz pics from here – Paul does a great analysis of the visual devices used over the years to show Billy’s speed and has what appears to be definitive web information for many of the Beano artists and characters. Recommended
Martin Grayling’s Beano page with some nice historical cover shots and links to other sites and (now dated) guide prices should you have some historic Beanos to sell.
The official Beanotown Museum synopsis of the Beano Golden Age.
Beanotown official site – brilliant with loads to do including the unique musical experience that is the gnashaphone.
DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano, will be celebrating their 100th birthday in 2 years. I nicked all the pics from your site I confess please don’t sue me – look I’m encouraging people to go there and buy loads of stuff OK?