Dennis and Gnasher (formerly known simply as Dennis the Menace and Gnasher) is one of the best-known British comic strips. Created by editor George Moonie, artist David Law, and sub-editor Ian Chisholm, who sketched the character on a cigarette packet when Law was struggling to visualise him, the strip first appeared in issue 452 of The Beano, dated March 17, 1951.
The central character in the strip is a troublemaking boy in a stripy red-and-black jumper. His dog, an Abyssinian Wire-Haired Tripe Hound named Gnasher, first appeared in 1968. Other additions to the Menace clan include Dennis' pet pig Rasher (introduced 1979) and his baby sister Bea (born in 1998); he also owns Splasher (a fish) and Dasher (a spider) and once bought a hamster. His best friends are Curly and Pie-Face. Amongst the regular victims of the menaces are Dennis' long-suffering parents and the local softy, Walter.
There have been changes to his look. Originally he was in black and white, wearing a suit and striped tie, but from fairly early on into the present day, he's been wearing his famous red-and-blacked striped jumper.
"Dennis the Menace - the World's Wildest Boy!" Those were the words which introduced this character to the world on 15 March 1951. He's now the longest-running character in The Beano's 70+ year history. That first strip introduced us to Dennis and his ever despairing father. Although Dennis's Dad was seen walking a dog, that dog wasn't Gnasher. He didn't appear until later.
For seventeen years, Dennis was a lonesome menace, terrorising neighbours and bullying Walter, the good boy who lived across the street. He was sometimes seen with generic friends, but they didn't have names. The first strip didn't include Dennis' famous red-and-black-striped jersey either, but this appeared within a few months. These early strips were drawn by David Law, who also created Beryl the Peril for The Topper. Dennis quickly became a readers' favourite and the first Dennis the Menace Annual (called the Dennis the Menace Book) was published in 1955 (and ran until 2010).
In late 1967, readers were introduced to Dennis's lookalike female cousin Denise, who stayed with the family for a time. As a sidekick, she was short lived. In 1968, the writers decided to give Dennis a permanent companion: a pet dog who shared Dennis' black spiky hair and had teeth like granite. Thus Gnasher was created. He debuted as a stray, who later turn out to be an Abyssinian Wire-haired Tripehound. In his first story, Dennis took Gnasher to a dog show, where Gnasher chased all the other dogs. Afterwards, Dennis's dad turned up, and ordered Gnasher to join Pup Parade, the spin-off strip featuring the pet dogs of the Bash Street Kids. Gnasher did appear there, but was quickly alongside Dennis again. Ever since, they have been inseparable. In 1970, Gnasher's name was added to the strip's title. Months later, David Law died, and David Sutherland took over artwork duties.
Dave Sutherland era
Having occupied the back cover since the late 60s, in 1974, Dennis finally took over the front cover as well, replacing Biffo the Bear. At the same time, he gained his own fan club, The Dennis the Menace Fan Club (incorporating Gnasher's Fang Club).
At around this time, Dennis and Walter both gained two friends. Dennis's new friends were Curly, who had appeared in the 1960s but was previously neutral, sometimes being seen being friendly with Walter; and Pie-Face, whose favourite food is obvious - pies, with any filling. The 1996 animated series revealed that his real name is Kevin, which was referenced in an issue of Beano Superstars. Walter's two new friends were Bertie Blenkinsop and Spotty Perkins, with Walter now being nicknamed the Prince of Softies.
Later, Dennis's dad's mother, referred to as Granny, would start making regular appearances. Originally, she was another authority figure of whom even Dad was scared, for she had a slipper called the Demon Whacker. In the late 1980s, with slipper punishments now outdated, she got a new personality, and bacame an OAP biker menace, in her own strip Go, Granny, Go.
Earlier, in 1975, Gnasher had also got his own spin-off, called Gnasher's Tale. That strip unfortunately contradicts his origin story from 1968, as it shows a puppy Gnasher and a toddler Dennis. In 1979, Dennis also adopted a pet pig called Rasher, who also got his own spin-off story.
In 1986, the Beano had the first of several Dennis-related publicity stunts: Gnasher ran away! He was missing for two months, during which time, Walter's pet poodle Foo-Foo took over the Gnasher's Tale page, which became Foo-Foo's Fairy Story.
When Gnasher returned, it was revealed that he was a father! He had sired six puppies, Gnipper, Gnatasha, Gnorah, Gnancy, Gnanette, and Gnaomi. The girl pups were all adopted by other people and would only ever make cameos in the Beano, although Gnatasha's new family apparently live in Beezertown, as she appeared in the Beezer and Topper in the early 1990s. Gnipper would join Gnasher in his own strip, which was renamed Gnasher and Gnipper. It was now set in the present and showed Gnasher teaching Gnipper the ways of doggy life, such chasing cats and postmen, or burying bones.
In 1993, the Beano went full colour. This saw Dennis's strip expand to three pages, vacating the back cover, while Gnasher and Gnipper was also now in colour. The Menacecar would often be used in this era.
David Parkins era
In 1998, David Sutherland went into semi-retirement (he still draws Bash Street to this day) so Dennis was taken over by David Parkins. His first few strips were a story arc with a mystery element. Why was the spare room being decorated in softy colours? Why was Dennis's Mum ill? Why did his Dad not care if Dennis misbehaved? The answer would eventually be revealed... Dennis's Mum was pregnant!
This revelation marks a milestone, as it was the first time a British comic had covered that subject. The result was a baby sister, eventually named Bea and always dressed in yellow and black stripes. As she turned out to be just as naughty as Dennis, although her 'pranks' were usually of the scatalogical variety, she also got her own story. Initially called Beaginnings, it was later titled Bea the Mini-Menace. Bea is short for Beatrice, a name which is just as old-fashioned as Dennis, but which also allows for a clever running gag. When Bea misbehaves, one of her parents (usually Mum) will shout "Bea! No!" — which of course spells out Beano, the name of the comic.
Although a Dennis and Gnasher cartoon series was running on CBBC at the time, Bea appeared too late to be included, as the second series in 1998 would be the last. At this time, The Beano Club launched, causing the Dennis the Menace Fan Club to fade into the background and eventually cease.
From 1999 onwards, Parkins began to draw Dennis less frequently, with David Sutherland occasionally filling in during the first half of the year. Later in 1999 Nigel Parkinson became Parkins' understudy. Originally only drawing the occasional Dennis strip, by 2003 he was drawing the strip almost exclusively. In 2002, Jimmy Hansen was added to the group of Dennis artists, and by 2006- the year that David Parkins produced his last Dennis strip- he was drawing Dennis about as often as Parkinson.
In April 2007 Tom Paterson was added to the list of Dennis artists, and the following year would introduce a second Dennis strip to the weekly comic.
TV Series era
Dennis moved into a new era with the launch of another animated series in 2009. Some drastic changes were made. The strip was retitled "Dennis and Gnasher", and all the characters were redesigned — Walter, for example was no longer a softy, and instead became a cunning know-it-all who schemes to ruin Dennis's fun. Dennis uses his weapons less often, and most of his menacing now happens in the pursuit of fun, rather than maliciously. Rasher has been replaced by a new pig called Harley, and he and Gnipper now belong to Granny. Sergeant Slipper was slimmed down, and the Colonel lost his hat — both characters had been created for the 1996 cartoon. Several new characters were introduced — teacher Mrs Creecher, joke shop owner Mr Har-Har, rock star's daughter Athena, and Dad's boss Mr Scrimp.
Other than the change of art style to match that of the television series, Dennis' artist roster stayed the same. The influence of the TV series on the strip slowly began to wear away shortly afterwards, and by the beginning of 2011 Dennis was behaving far more like a menace again. This coincided with an artist replacement- Nigel Parkinson, Jimmy Hansen and Tom Paterson were replaced by Barrie Appleby in March 2011.
Throughout the year saw the return of various characters that had previously been axed as a result of the 2009 cartoon influence. Such characters included Foo-Foo, Rasher and Dasher.
Nigel Parkinson Era
The Beano was given a revamp in August 2012, and Dennis was revamped as well- the strip reverted to the "Dennis the Menace and Gnasher" title, and Dennis and Gnasher reverted to their pre-TV Series designs, although the majority of other characters remained the way they were. Dennis' parents, however, were given complete redesigns- courtesy of Gok Wan- to bring the designs in line with those of the television series that was set to premiere the following year. Several other changes were made to the strip to connect it with said TV Series during the following months- Mr. De Testa, who had been the Mayor of Beanotown in the 2009 cartoon, became the head of Dennis' school. Meanwhile, Mr. Scrimp, who had been Dennis' Dad's boss in the 2009 cartoon, became the new Mayor of Beanotown.
By the end of 2012 Nigel Auchterlounie had become the writer for Dennis the Menace. He gave the characters more three-dimensional personalities, and retconned the "revamped parents" story arc and created a new backstory in which the current Dennis' Dad is, in fact, Dennis from the early 1980s.
Various other changes have been made since the 2013 TV Series drew to a close, notably Walter's Dad becoming the new mayor of Beanotown.
Also Sprach Wikipedia
Dennis the Menace (known as Dennis the Menace and Gnasher since 1970) is a long-running comic strip featured in The Beano children's comic, published by D. C. Thomson & Co., Dundee, Scotland, in the United Kingdom.
The strip first appeared in issue 452, released on 15 March 1951 (cover dated for the off-sale date of 17 March), and is the longest running strip in the comic. From issue 1678 onwards (dated 14 September 1974) Dennis the Menace replaced Biffo the Bear on the front cover, and has been there ever since.
Three days earlier, on 12 March 1951, another Dennis the Menace debuted in the United States. The two strips should not be confused — as a result of this the US series has been retitled Dennis for UK consumption, while the British character's appearances are often titled "Dennis and Gnasher" outside the UK.
Dennis the Menace and Gnasher was first drawn by David Law (1951 – 1970), then David Sutherland (1970 – 1998). David Parkins took over in 1998, but due to his other work commitments, Nigel Parkinson and Jimmy Hansen have drawn the lion's share of the strips for some years, and Parkins has not drawn Dennis since 2006. More recently, Tom Paterson has drawn some second Dennis strips for the comic's rear pages. Barrie Appleby did the artwork for the Beano Superstars series, which, towards the end of its run, resorted exclusively to strips based on the TV series.
- Jonathan Petre, Scrawled on a pack of Players, Dennis the very first Menace, Daily Mail, 6 September 2009
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