Page last updated at 20:52 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 21:52 UK

Beano's 70th birthday celebration

Dennis the Menace
Dennis the Menace is one of the most famous Beano characters

Dennis the Menace, the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx are being celebrated in Dundee as the city says happy 70th birthday to the Beano.

The home city of the comic is marking the anniversary with an exhibition at Dundee University.

It explores the development of the artwork, comic strips and production processes over the decades.

A special event will also take place featuring past and present artists, along with a talk by the editor.

Dr Chris Murray from the university believes the comic was ahead of its time when it first appeared in 1938.

"When it starts it's very much different from the other British comics which are around at the time, they were very much like Rupert the Bear-type stories with an image with some text underneath," he said.

"The innovation of the Dandy and the Beano was that they were much more responsive to American comics like Superman and Batman and Mickey Mouse comics, which had word bubbles and were much more colourful and dynamic.

The Beano is still holding onto its past and its traditions, while also looking forward
Chris Murray
University of Dundee

"So the Dandy and the Beano really changed the face of British comics."

The exhibition will not just be looking at the well-known characters, but those people may have forgotten about - such as Tin Can Tommy.

He was a robot "son" built by a professor whose own child had died.

Tommy appeared in early editions and was created by Italian brothers, the Torellis.

The last the Beano's publishers, DC Thomson, heard from the brothers was when they sent a telegram before WWII stating that things would be back to normal soon and the two countries would not go to war.

Tin Can Tommy therefore did not live on to be as famous as Dennis or Minnie.

Mr Murray believes it is important all the characters - big and small - are celebrated.

And he feels the comic is still evolving - 70 years after it was first published

He said: "In some ways it's performing what it's always done - entertaining stories told in a very interesting way.

"If you look at the Beano today, what's surprising about it is the way in which the old favourites - things like Minnie the Minx are still told in a kind of style that we recognise from the golden age of the 50s and 60s.

"But other strips sit alongside them that use computer colouring, that use digital art and some of the artwork is very much influenced by manga - Japanese comics - which is very popular with younger comic readers at the moment, especially in Britain.

"So the Beano is still holding onto its past and its traditions, while also looking forward."

The exhibition runs at Dundee University's Lamb Gallery from 18 July until 20 September.

The special event featuring talks and tours is on 30 July.


SEE ALSO
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21 Nov 07 |  Tayside and Central
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Boy creates new Beano character
28 Apr 07 |  West Yorkshire

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