The Beano is now 81 – here’s a look back at the comic’s 50th birthday!

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…

The first issue of The Beano, published in 1938, offered at auction with the original 4-page colour flyer for Beano Numbers 1 and 2. The Beano flyer has each character profiled with full page stories of Morgyn The Mighty, Rip Van Wink and Contrary Mary.

The first issue of The Beano, published in 1938, offered at auction with the original 4-page colour flyer for Beano Numbers 1 and 2. The Beano flyer has each character profiled with full page stories of Morgyn The Mighty, Rip Van Wink and Contrary Mary.

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.

Beano Issue 2396

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!

With thanks to Phil-Comics Auctions for the link and Beano 2396 cover

 

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Humour Comics

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2 replies

  1. Cover date is 30th, 26th was the actual launch day. Also, the cover date is the Saturday of the week the issue was on sale, not the off sale date. They didn’t start putting an off sale date on the cover until a few years ago.

  2. Everyone loves the Beano, and for the most part loves the ones they read, as times move on. No matter what era you loved the Beano your in for life and that comfortable warm mushy feeling when you dig out your Beanos to walk down memory lane again always stays with you!

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