‘Beano’ reveals Dennis The Menace’s father is actually 1980s Dennis (Wired UK)

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In a familial twist worthy of Star Wars or Shakespeare, The Beano has revealed that Dennis The Menace… is not Dennis The Menace.

At least, not the Dennis the Menace you might assume.

In the most recent issue of The Beano, it is confirmed for the first time that Dennis’s dad is a grown-up version of the 1980s-era Dennis The Menace.

While you may remember Dennis The Menace’s dad in his older, balder, Hitler moustache-sporting incarnation, the comic made a historic shift on 25 August 2012 by introducing a spikey-haired new ‘dad’. The comic also shifted the father-son relationship from its painfully old-fashioned combative (even abusive) tone, to one that was sometimes adverserial, but also friendlier.

Now the reason for that empathy between Menace Sr and Menace Jr is finally clear. In the latest instalment of the long-running comic, dated 2 May, Dennis’ father is running for mayor of Beanotown. But the election takes a dark turn when his opponent — Dennis’s nemesis Walter’s own father — decides to run an attack ad. The film features scenes of destruction from Dennis’s dad’s youth, in which it is finally made clear that the older Menace is in fact a previous incarnation of the famous character.

The strip uses a classic red-and-black colouring style to swap between the past and present day, showing the older Menace smashing a greenhouse, riding an elephant and scraping a car with his 70s-era bicycle. The retro Menace has the sensible shoes and ringed socks from older strips, but the same trademark grin. The film doesn’t play well with the audience in the story, but Dennis likes it: “they must have hurt your chances at the election, dad, but I thought it was great,” he says, somewhat movingly.

The original Dennis was quite different to the current incarnations — and so was his father.

DC Thompson

Mike Stirling, editor-in-chief at DC Thomson, confirmed that the strip did mean what it appears — that the current Dennis is at least the second prankster to hold the title of Menace-in-Chief.

“This revelation made a few folks drop their bacon sandwiches!” he told WIRED.co.uk. “It does seem to suggest some sort of Back to the Future style time-bending, but it’s something that’s always been there in the background of the story.”

Stirling said that the revelation had been hinted at in previous editions of the comic, but had never been this emphatic.

“Our editor, Craig Graham, and Nigel Auchterlounie, our brilliant writer, decided to share it with our readers as part of our Beanotown Election story arc. It’s been hinted at before, usually through Dennis’s gran’s reminiscences, but this is probably the most emphatic public exposition.”

The latest issue of the Beano, containing the revelation

DC Thompson

Stirling said that the timeline of the various Menaces was not definitive — there’s no established canon over which fans can obsess on the scale of Doctor Who, for instance, and this is still very much a weekly comic, not a sci-fi epic. Dennis the Menace first appeared in 1951, and has gone through many periods of change and adjustment. The Beano now features content about Minecraft and Nintendo games as well as classic strips like Bash St Kids and Roger the Dodger. But Stirling confirmed that Beano fans’ attachment to “their” Menace is at least an element in the ongoing story of Dennis, Gnasher et al.

“Everyone loves the Dennis the Menace they remember from when they were a kid and this explains why that’s the case,” he said. “There’s no definable lineage, but there can only ever be one Dennis at any time. It serve as a salutary warning that even the coolest kids can become boring grown-ups. Everyone should always read The Beano as an antidote to this!”

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1 May 2015 | 10:57 am – Source: wired.co.uk


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