Today is the official Birthday of British Comic/Instituation/National Treasure The Beano.
The first issue was dated July 30th 1938, 75 years ago today. (It actually went on sale on July 26th, but The Beano say their Official Birthday is today, and who am I to argue?)
Now, like most British kids, I grew up reading The Beano, as well as the assorted Summer Specials, Comic Libraries, and Annuals every Christmas.
In fact, I used to read most of the DC Thomson weeklies through the Eighties and early Nineties – The Dandy, Beezer, Topper, Nutty, Hoot! – now, sadly all gone. But, after the final – 75th Anniversary – issue of The Dandy last December, The Beano is the only one left. And, what with last wednesday’s issue being it’s official Birthday issue, that means that, as of tomorrow, it becomes the longest running UK comic ever (although, issue count-wise, it overtook The Dandy a fair while ago, as The Dandy had a three year run as the fortnightly Dandy Xtreme in the late Noughties).
As I’ve said, I grew up reading The Beano, probably from around 1984 til 1995. By that point, at the age of sixteen, I had two younger brothers and a younger sister, who were heading towards comic reading ages. So as I moved on to study Art A-level, I also moved on from the DC Thomson and Fleetway comics I’d been reading for the past ten years or so, and started reading 2000AD and Judge Dredd comics, although, it must be said, that never quite worked for me, and it didn’t last long.
So, by the late nineties, I was back to reading my siblings’ Beanos and Dandys, although my own eighties comics had mostly gone – either lost in house moves, or by my siblings as they, as toddlers, began to ‘read’ and draw, and colour in the pictures…
As you probably know, for the past couple of years or so, I’ve started collecting old comics again, as well as buying the last couple of years of The Dandy‘s run, before getting back into buying The Beano every week at the beginning of 2012.
I’ve now built up a collection of 190 Beanos, 110 of those dating from between 1980 and 2006. I’ve also got 12 Beano Annuals, a Dennis the Menace annual, A special book from 2011 celebrating Dennis’s 60th Birthday, plus seven of the Beano-Dandy ‘Golden Years’ books, first issued in 1988.
And on top of that, there’s the 1988 Summer Special, this year’s Special Summer Special, which looks back at, and tells the story of, the history of The Beano.
And, finally, Beano Super Stars issue 66, from 1997 (sadly, I’ve no Beano Comic Libraries).
If I’d carried on reading these comics as I got older, I’d like to think I could have perhaps become a professional comic artist. I have managed to get to know, and become quite good friends with, some of the professional artists through Twitter and Facebook. But as it is, as I imagine you know, I’m just an enthusiastic (and, Hell, talented!) amateur, but I enjoy what I do.
And to celebrate The Beano‘s 75th, I decided to draw my own take on original cover star Big Eggo:
I also decided to mark the occasion by wearing my Dennis the Menace tie, but that just looks stupid. especially with this shirt.
So, I’ll just end by saying Happy Birthday, Beano. Here’s to another 75 years…