The Beano celebrated its 81st birthday recently, the first issue published with a cover date of 26th July 1938 – but that date isn’t it’s actual birthday, and neither are the cover dates for other British comics, either…
Most would tend to go by the printed cover date when celebrating the birthday / launch of comics. It seems that like artist Lew Stringer, I’m in a bit of a minority in trying to keep a check on the original “on sale” date of a comic. (That, or, I’m turning into Pedantic Stan!)
This aim is of course not helped when magazines, web sites and even comic publishers use the cover date to mark their birthdays.
Most cover dates of British comics actually are designed to inform newsagents when they should be taking a title off sale, not the date of release. Yes, I know – confusing, isn’t it?
Lew Stringer also notes the cover date issue is even more confusing for comics published mid-week like the Beano, Battle, TV21, Dandy, Topper and others. They’d still carry the week-ending date but would be on sale until the following mid-week – Wednesday in TV21‘s case, for example.
The cover date of the first Beano was Saturday 30th July and its off sale date was 2nd August, the day the next issue was released.
Back in 1988, as part of The Beano comic’s 50th birthday celebrations, a huge Beano comic cover was created on Scarborough Beach; an exact replica of that week’s Beano cover. Check out this video posted by the Scarborough News, posted last year, which re-visited the day 30 years on, it has some great footage – including an interview with Euan Kerr, the then Beano Editor, and dozens of retro Beano T-shirts!