DELVING into the mischievous antics of its colourful characters has been a rite of passage for children since the Beano was first published.

And although Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx still look as youthful as ever as you flick through the pages, the comic is celebrating its 80th birthday.

A series of events have been staged to mark the landmark anniversary and the comic’s editorial director has pledged it will continue to laugh at the world “via a kid’s-eye view” in the years ahead.

Created by DC Thomson in Dundee, the Beano hit stands on July 30, 1938 as a companion paper to The Dandy, which went on sale eight months earlier.

In an age free of modern technology, it built a loyal following, going on to sell almost two million copies weekly in the 1950s.

With a copy of the comic sold every 17 seconds in the UK now, it continues to endear itself to youngsters today as parents introduce their children to the characters they loved when they were young.

In Dundee, the McManus museum has been renamed McMenace for an exhibition on the comic, including original artwork, a first edition of the Beano, fan club memorabilia and a history of publishers DC Thomson, with visitors encouraged to dress up as their favourite characters.

Actor and children’s author David Walliams has guest edited a commemorative issue also marking the anniversary.

In his editor’s letter, Walliams said: “What I always loved about the Beano was that it felt naughty. It was a comic that you should read under the duvet with a torchlight. I don’t think I’d have got into writing my books without Beano.

“When coming up with characters for my TV shows and books, I’d imagine them all as larger than life characters, much like the ones in Beano. The comic is quintessentially British and as long as there are children who like to laugh there will always be a place for the Beano.”

Most of the Beano’s best-known characters were introduced to the pages of the Beano in the years after its launch, with the first edition fronted by Big Eggo The Ostrich who kept his place there for a decade before being ousted by Biffo the Bear.

Very few first issues of the Beano remain in existence, with one selling for more than £17,000 at auction in 2015. Dennis the Menace is the longest-running character to appear in the comic. He made his Beano debut on March 17, 1951, but the “World’s Wildest Boy” had to wait until May 5 of that year to be given his trademark black-and-red stripped jumper.

Beano has also diversified to target a new online audience, launching in 2016, which has been visited by 2.5million children. Meanwhile, 1.86 million copies of Beano were sold in 2017, with latest figures showing a 7.9% year-on-year increase in sales, recording weekly sales figures of 37,542 copies.

To further mark the special birthday, Beano have relaunched the infamous Fan Club, offering free membership and printable club badges and certificates.

Mike Stirling, editorial director of Beano Studios, said: “Everything about Beano has always evolved naturally, inspired by the kids we speak and listen to, every single day.

“They’ve ensured the situations our characters find themselves in are always relatable to every generation. It’s all underpinned by our philosophy of laughing at the world via a kid’s-eye view.

“Our online hub, - the fastest growing kids’ website in the UK - and No 1 smash-hit Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed animation series now mean more kids than ever before are enjoying Beano-inspired everyday rebellion.”