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Meet the all-new Dennis The Menace as The Beano gets a face lift for TV

April 11th, 2018 by Ciaran McElherron Comments

Beano Studios was launched in 2016 and uses character from the UK’s longest surviving comic The Beano and is now aiming to gain traction in the competitive global market.

In its heyday The Beano sold over 2 million copies and while the studio is new, the properties that it draws its inspiration from have the faint musty whiff of age about them.

Owned and published by DC Thompson since 1938, The Beano has been read by many generations of British children and was known for its “subversive rebelliousness” that poked fun at authority figures and teachers; the most well known characters of the “funny book” were Dennis the Menace (not the American version with blonde hair but rather the red and black jumper wearing menace pictured above), Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids, all of whom have now been given a virtual makeover and some of the veteran characters have been tweaked to make them more inclusive.

One of the most popular new characters from the rebooted Beano is Rubi, a gadget-loving girl in a wheelchair: “Her popularity is off the scale because she is a very with-it young girl who is in firm control of what’s going on in the gang,” says Emma Scott, founder and CEO of Beano Studios.

The Iconic Dennis the Menace has been brought into the 20th century and is now more of a nuisance than a menace who will sport an American accent when the programming is played for US audiences.

“Dennis and his friends are mischief makers but they don’t set out to do any harm, they’re really good to other kids,” Scott says.

“They get themselves into scrapes because they like to test the boundaries and take risks. That’s a universal truth about all children.”

Scott has also stressed that the revamped Beano is to be a “broad digital entertainment platform” and has hired digital specialists from Channel 4, the BBC, Youtube and Twitter.

Beano.com debuted in autum 2016 and will be given a U.S. launch in the next few months, the site features online games (“Spot ‘The Beano’ characters from their jumpers,” Scott says), videos (“How to draw a pug in 20 seconds”) and listicles (“Explanations for the Bermuda Triangle”) all terribly suited to the poor attention span of today’s 12 to 15-year-olds

Driven by Beano.com, remarkably, the comic’s print sales (around 35,000 a week) have recently grown by 10% in the U.K.

A 52-part animated series, “Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed,” is a hit for U.K. kids’ channel CBBC. The show has been sold across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australasia and a sale in the U.S. is being targeted.
“We don’t collect data around individuals or use cookies,” Scott says. “That allows us to work with advertisers. The bar is quite high to be COPPA-compliant, but it is important that we are. Choice is a great thing if you know what you’re looking for. But not if you’re relying on happenstance to find something.”

Crucial to the continued success of Beano.com (more than 1 million users have visited the site) is keeping up with kids’ changing tastes. So-called Trendspotters (a panel of 20 9-to-12-year-olds) are sounded out weekly to find out what’s going down in the playground. This research shows that President Trump is a constant source of fascination: “When we cover him we get disproportionate traffic,” Scott says.

“He comes up a lot in their world in school. In the UK they’ve got clear ideas about him, irrespective of social class or where they live. It surprised us and it’s not going away. They worry about him. They don’t understand why he doesn’t like Mexicans. To them, he is a bit of a villain.”

Doesn’t sound like The Beano we grew up reading but everything changes, right? Right? Is this thing on? Hello?

Source: Variety

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Ciarán McElherron is 37 years old and living in Belfast with his wife Clare and an assortment of cats and a dog. He caught the nerd bug the first time he saw a lightsaber ignite and Luke Skywalker has been his hero ever since. He watches too much TV, reads too many Marvel comic books and plays way too much Football Manager. Sylvester McCoy was his Doctor and when he grows up he would like to be He-Man