Screen printer John Patrick Reynolds is offering a new limited edition print of Dennis the Menace, based on an which first appeared in an edition of The Beano annual in the 1960s – and has inspired other similar illustrations of the character since.
Dennis the Menace, today simply “Dennis”, the star of Beano comic, first appeared in 1951. He has since become a kind of national mascot – what Asterix is to France, or Oor Wullie is to Scotland.
The character has gone through various phases since then, from the pocket-sized Satan of the 1950s, to the pugnacious youth of the 1960s and 1970s to the incorrigible imp of the 1990s.
In the early 1960s, he was joined by his Abyssinian wire-haired tripe house, Gnasher. who seems to be made of the same kind of thing as Dennis the Menace’s hair – the untamed explosion of black hair symbolic of the chaos they embody.
He is a gift to the screenprinter, from a graphic point of view, with his red-and-white sriped jersey and explosion of black hair.
“Dennis the Menace has one of the most recognisable faces in Britain. That chaotic shock of hair, that round face, that grin,” enthuses John, who has been creating screen prints based on DC Thomson comic characters for some years. “I like the simplicity and clarity of this screenprint: the black-and-white face, the splash of colour.
“And he’s also come to be associated with the colour red – the colour of the stripe on his football jersey,” John adds, ” So I’ve given the black-and-white portrait a red bar at the bottom of the page.
“Incidentally, the publisher DC Thomson didn’t always insist on Dennis having a red jersey – in the early days, annuals featuring the comic-book star would sometimes give him a blue or green top, depending on where in the book the strip fell as printing considerations dictated which pages had which colour.
The new portrait, offered at a different sizes is a handmade, limited edition screen print on mould-made, cotton paper, signed and numbered out of 200 in pencil by the printer, John Patrick Reynolds and available through The Comic Art Web Site, along with many other great artworks.
John has read comics all his life, since the 1960s, when he practically learned to read with them. “The Rover was my first love,” he recalls, “an adventure comic which was all-text. Every week it held stirring stories about everything from cyclists in the Tour de France to soldiers in the Second World War. The paper it was printed on was uncoated newsprint – I loved the way it felt in my hands. It was also well designed – I loved the way it looked, and loved the pictures.
“Now I’m a screenprinter. I discovered about 15 years ago that comics were a perfect fit for screenprinting. The medium is good at producing flat vivid colour and bold outline – just right for the stylised nature of comics.
“Soon after that, I was lucky enough to be the first screenprinter to gain permission from Britain’s top comic publisher, DC Thomson, to use its fabulous archive of images in my screenprints.
“So I am the first to produce screenprints of such icons as Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and my old favourite from The Rover (and then The Victor), Alf Tupper, The Tough Of The Track – and I’m proud of that.”
Beano © D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd