Beano Studios looks to reimagine DC Thomson comic character archive for TV, reportedly leading with teenage Dennis the Menace live action series

Dennis the Menace - early art © Beano Studios/ DC Thomson
© Beano Studios/ DC Thomson

Beano Studios are reported to be looking at bringing updated versions of several DC Thomson Media characters to the small screen, including a teenage version of the Beano’s Dennis (aka Dennis the Menace), Hotspur’s Nick Jolly The Flying Highwayman and Marina, a young girl who could see into the future, from girls comic Spellbound.

This news might explain the apparent disappearance of character revivals from Commando, which began last year, although we’re expecting to hear about the war comic’s 60th Anniversary plans for 2021 later today, as part of Thought Bubble Digital Comic Con.

(16/11/20 Update: the team at Commando seem to be playing their cards close to their chest, unless I missed something. There has been an announcement about giving readers the power to pick reprints),

Revamped for TV? “Nick Jolly, The Flying Highwayman” from Hotspur. Art by Ron Smith. Image: DC Thomson Media

Entertainment news site Deadline has reported Beano Studios has started developing a YA adaptation of Dennis the Menace as a live-action series with the character as a teenager flitting in and out of trouble with the police, working with Matthew Barry, one of the writers on the Netflix reboot Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

The web site also reported Beano Studios is in talks to develop the project, which may have a darker tone similar to the E4-screened drama Skins, in both the United States and the UK.

Hand in hand with this rumoured project, Deadline reports Beano Studios is looking to take advantage of the boom in classic IP for broadcasters and streaming platforms, making more of the some 2000 plus characters and strips owned by DC Thomson Media, spanning all genres, from the humour of Beano to adventure in Commando and past boys comics such as The Crunch, Hotspur, Starblazer and Victor, and girls comics such as Bunty, Judy, Mandy and Spellbound.

Spellbound Issue 49 featuring "Marina" on the cover
Spellbound Issue 49 featuring “Marina” on the cover

DC Thomson Media owns characters dating back to the 1920s, including some that could be considered superheroes long before they became popularised in US comics.

Hotspur’s King Cobra was revived for STRIP Magazine by John Freeman, with art from Wamberto Nicomedes and unpublished work by Batman artist Trevor von Eeden and John Ross
Hotspur’s King Cobra was revived for STRIP Magazine by John Freeman, with art from Wamberto Nicomedes and unpublished work by Batman artist Trevor von Eeden and John Ross

Earlier this year, prompted by an enquiry about revisiting the short-lived STRIP Magazine revival of another Hotspur character, King Cobra, revamped by myself, Wamberto Nicomedes and, later, John Ross, developed under license from DC Thomson Media, both published and unpublished pages from the project were shared with DC Thomson staff.

Deadline reports Beano Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Mark Talbot, who joined the company from Episodes and Flack producer Hat Trick last year, is responsible for this TV push.

Talbot confirmed he was looking to reimagine many DC Thomson characters for a modern audience, although he would not confirm reports of a new Dennis the Menace revamp, a character celebrating his 70th anniversary next March.

He says Beano Studios are looking at different revamp routes with a number of writers, including YA adaptations inspired by shows such as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Riverdale as well as slightly older-focused comedies and dramas.

Writers involved include Veep writer Ian Martin, Vice Principals and Divorce writer Stephanie Laing, Juno Dawson, author of The Gender Games, and Tobi King Bakare, an actor and writer who appeared in HBO and BBC drama I May Destroy You.

“Some writers come to the IP and remember it from their childhood and others come to us and say they’ve never heard of ‘Nick Jolly The Flying Highwayman’, but they’ll take a look,” Talbot told Deadline, noting considerable excitement from potential US partners in DC Thomson’s back catalogue of characters.

“When you look at Marvel, think about how many incarnations there have been of Batman from the 1960s with Adam West all the way through to Batman Lego and at the same time me and my wife can sit down and watch Christina Bale and Tom Hardy going at it for two years. It’s the same IP but it can serve two different audiences and that’s the same beauty with the Beano,” he added.

DC Thomson Media has an incredible archive of characters, and of course, there have been no shortage of projects outside of comics featuring many of their characters, including Dennis the Menace, Bananaman, and many more. This is a very exciting development, but should come as no surprise, given rival 2000AD owners Rebellion’s push into film and TV in the past 18 months.

We look forward to developments, although It should be noted that the development of both animated and TV series can take a long time. Beano Studios announced the development of The Magnificent Misadventures of Minnie, based on Beano character Minnie the Minx back in 2018, working with Lime Pictures – but no further announcements have been made. An announced Bananaman movie also morphed into a musical.

Read the full report here on Deadline

Which DC Thomson characters would you live to see on the small screen, from Beano, Hotspur, Starblazer, Bunty and more? Brassneck? The Supercats? Spoofer McGraw? Q-Bikes? King Cobra? Let us know – comment below!

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.



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