DC Thomson – publishers of The Beano, Commando and other comics, as well as newspapers and magazines – has just launched a new creative company called Beano Studios, which aims to become the number one choice for seven to ten year olds for “boredom-busting entertainment”.
In addition to giving an all-new look to the beano.com web site – due to be revealed in the Autumn – Beano Studios, which has its headquarters in London, will also create, curate and deliver entertainment for kids across multiple touchpoints, including new film and TV programmes, a digital platform, live theatrical experiences, consumer products and the comic and annual.
Beano Studios, which was quietly registered as a company back in March, has been set up by DC Thomson to run the Beano site and will also take over the management of the print version of the comic, which sells around 38,000 copies a week.
As well as Beano.com, content will also be offered to readers through sites such as YouTube and PopJam, and available across multiple mobile devices – and a new Dennis the Menace TV series, made with CGI, is in development.
A new digital entertainment network will launch in Autumn 2016, packed with content that Beano Studios says will be “true to the spirit of The Beano“.
“A load of naughty irreverence and rebellion goes a very long way to spark children’s imaginations and Beano has delivered a funny antidote to the boring grown-up world for almost 80 years,” said Emma Scott, CEO of Beano Studios.
“We are taking the Beano spirit, we aren’t simply trying to transfer the comic online,” she told Dundee-based newspaper The Courier. “And we will marry it with the best of the web, commissions from independent producers, YouTube, user-generated content – whatever fits with the Beano ethos.”
“From a parents’ point of view, the digital space has become a wild west of unpredictable environments where children might be pressured to grow up too quickly,” she also said. “Only 18 per cent of parents feel there are enough safe, good quality digital destinations for kids. We’re here to change that. To build a safe, trusted world full of cheekiness and energy where kids can be themselves, have fun and live in the moment.”
“Beano Studios is different to anything currently available for kids,” added James Neal, director of content, who was previously Director of Content at Ginx TV. “We’re all about big and bold entertainment aimed at seven to 10.
“Whilst there are a lot of entertainment options for early teens and grown-ups, with social networks and content from broadcasters and vloggers alike, there is no single digital destination for children aged seven to 10.”
Elsewhere, the first TV production under the Beano Studios banner is Dennis and Gnasher – Unleashed. Set to air in autumn 2017, the new series sees Dennis and Gnasher portrayed in CGI animation for the first time in a new 52 episode series.
The company says the new show is “a laugh out loud, high octane ride through the larger than life world that is Beanotown. It places Dennis as our hero, surrounded by his friends, solving (and often inadVertently creating!) adventures full of action, humour and true Beano spirit.”
On board at launch with the new company are Nigel Pickard, launch director for CBBC and Cbeebies at the BBC, as non-executive director, and Jodie Morris, the former managing editor of C4.com, as head of digital content.
Beano Studios is also exploring plans to take Beano characters to bigger screens and stages worldwide. The new company, which began recruitment last year, has its own editorial team combining the best of kids “know how” from the comic, in addition to securing key talent from family and entertainment networks like DreamWorks, Channel 4, Radio 1 and Disney.
As well as a totally fresh take on The Beano characters people know and love, they will be creating, commissioning and curating an array of new content designed to embrace the Beano spirit of everyday rebellion, imagination and big laughs. Everything from involving video stories to light-touch news, listicles, games and inspiration for kids to unleash their imagination, get outside and explore.
The company seems conscious of miss-steps in previous digital makeovers for their titles and keen to emphasise The Beano comic, edited by Craig Graham (with Mike Stirling as Editor-in-Chief), will stay true to its classic comic-strip roots (after DC Thomson shut The Dandy in 2012, the UK’s oldest children’s comic, it took that comic online following its 75th anniversary. Sadly, the attempt to give the title a digital breath of life failed and the online site was shut).
The Beano will, however, get a “refreshed approach” and feature “more wide-ranging characters,” and continue to evolve as kids’ needs change, while living up to Beano‘s heritage, “so that every generation continues to laugh with the comic”.
• There’s no Beano Studios web site just yet, although DC Thomson has registered beanostudios.com as a domain. You can find a little more about the project on the Beano Studios page on business site LinkedIn here – and of course jeep an eye on beano.com for developments, like The Beano on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter @beanocomic
The Beano and respective imagery © DC Thomson
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.