IT is a British institution that has entertained generations of children. Now, for the first time in its long history, the Beano is producing a comic for adults, featuring a few familiar faces.


A comic for grown-ups?

Since it was first published 82 years ago, the Beano has given youngsters a giggle thanks to the adventures of characters such as Dennis the Menace and his dog Gnasher, Minnie the Minx and the Bash Street Kids, and although grown-ups may have had a laugh as they flicked through the pages, they are now the demographic for the new publication, “BeanOLD”


It’s a first for the Beano?

The pull-out section in this week’s issue is intended to raise a smile, with the editorial director of Beano Studios, Mike Stirling, saying that both children and parents should enjoy it. “We just wanted to cheer everyone up,” he said. “One thing we noticed was that our readers were feeling a bit sorry for the adults in their lives.”


Who are the familiar faces?

None other than Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his former chief advisor Dominic Cummings, with the latter’s dubious trip to Barnard Castle - which he said he had taken during lockdown in a bid to test his eyesight - inspiring a strip that sees him driving toward the castle, with Johnson in the back of the car alongside Beanotown’s Mayor Brown. After a prang, a policeman tells Cummings: “I'm sorry, sir, but I'll have to give you a ticket for driving without glasses.”


Other stars include…

As part of a wider story involving a plot by the Mayor to steal Beanotown’s Christmas presents, the cast list includes Captain Tom Moore, Marcus Rashford and Greta Thunberg.



Plenty of references to 2020 are inlaced - from toilet roll shortages and zoom meetings, to home-schooling and the delayed James Bond movie.


Young readers inspired the introduction of politics?

Stirling, who co-wrote the pull-out, said the Beano has a team of “trendspotters”, youngsters who let the writers know what children are into right now, who advised them that Johnson and Cummings had been big talking-points for the average 10-year-old. One “trendspotter” said Cummings was the one who “broke all the rules”.


Is the Beano the best place to address such issues?

It has taken on big issues before - wartime editions frequently poked fun at Hitler. Meanwhile, its practice of ensuring consequences for bad behaviour suggests it is. “Although our characters are always really naughty and misbehave, our readers are very moral,” Stirling said. “When our kid characters break the rules there’s always a consequence for doing so.”


A kid’s eye view?

First published by Dundee-based DC Thomson in July 1938, the Beano's circulation was close to 2 million a week in 1950. Changing times saw the circulation fall, but today’s readership is closer to 40,000 weekly and rising during lockdown. Stirling said: “We could all benefit from thinking a wee bit more like kids… the optimism, hope and moral worldview that kids always have”.