Beano celebrates 80th anniversary with guest editor David Walliams

It is an icon for generations of children and was founded in Dundee shortly before the outbreak of the second world war.

The anniversary issue.
The anniversary issue.

Now the Beano is to celebrate its 80th birthday by appointing author and comedian David Walliams as guest editor.

The special issue, which will go on sale on 25 July, immortalises the children’s book writer in the comic strip alongside the Bash Street Kids, as well as characters from his best-selling children’s books, The World’s Worst Children.

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The comic will also feature Moe; a brand-new character exclusively created by Walliams, who debuts in a new strip called Moe’s Monkey Feet.

Loosely based on the comedian’s son, the story sees Moe using his amazingly dextrous feet to play pranks on other notorious Beano characters.

As well as writing his own comic strips, Walliams commissioned a special BeanoTown adventure, featuring legendary characters Dennis & Gnasher, Minnie the Minx and Bananaman, who all team up to defeat an out-of-this-world visitor.

The strip also nods to the comic’s 80 years of success, by including classic characters like Lord Snooty, Tin-Can Tommy and Pansy Potter.

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.”

He added: “I was thrilled to be invited to guest-edit the Beano, I felt rather giddy sitting in the Editor’s chair helping to create storylines and introduce my new character to the comic’s fanbase. As an official member of the Fan Club, as a child I’d wear my Dennis and Gnasher badges with such pride.”

Emma Scott, chief executive of Beano Studios, said: “It’s fantastic to work with David Walliams for our 80th Birthday bash – he’s brilliantly Beano – embodying the daft and rebellious nature which for 80 years has entertained kids and parents alike.

“On its 80th Birthday, Beano is more relevant than ever, spreading much needed cheekiness and inspiring kids to just embrace being kids, whether it’s on our award-winning, in our hit TV shows and the world-record breaking comic. Here’s to the next 80 years.”

The current editor is John Anderson, who has held the role since 2015. The comic has published 3,944 issues since it was founded in July, 1938. The name is believed to have come from the English phrase “beano” which loosely translates as a “good time” or a party.

David Walliams guest-edited the celebratory issue in exchange for a donation to YoungMinds, a charity fighting for young people’s mental health. Beano Studios is supporting YoungMinds’ work to engage children about their mental health across its platforms.

The 80th anniversary comic also sees the debut of another new character, called Mandi, developed with YoungMinds, who encounters everyday issues that can create anxiety or stress in children.

Walliams began writing children’s books in 2008, when he published his first novel, The Boy in the Dress, illustrated by the Sir Quentin Blake.