On Thursday 1st July, Royal Mail announced the launch of a new set of stamps celebrating 70 years of the British comic character Dennis.
Six stamps look back at Dennis through the ages; from his first ever black-and-white comic strip in 1951, to important events in his life, including meeting his baby sister, Bea, adopting Gnasher, and even finding out that his dad is a grown-up version of Dennis from the 1980s. These stamps are based on original strips from Beano comics of the time.
A further four stamps, exclusively illustrated by the current Dennis artist, Nigel Parkinson, show the culmination of an exclusive comic strip. The strip, written especially for Royal Mail is featured in the Presentation Pack. The story focuses on Dennis’s birthday celebrations and includes a brief ‘history of Menaces’. The light-hearted episodes end with a birthday surprise, with the final comic strip frame revealing the four new stamps.
Natasha Ayivor, Royal Mail said: ”For seven decades Dennis has been entertaining children by getting into all manner of mischief and mayhem. Generations have experienced the excitement and anticipation of reading about Dennis’s latest prank. Royal Mail is delighted to be honouring Dennis and Gnasher with a set of stamps as the ultimate birthday present.”
Mike Stirling, Editorial Director of Beano Studios said: “Dennis has stamped his personality across first class laughs and mischief for generations of children. We believe everyone has a little bit of the Dennis spirit within them, so can’t wait for fans big and small to take delivery of this amazing piece of Dennis history. This incredible stamp collection really pushes the envelope of philately flattery for our hero.”
Royal Mail collaborated with Beano Studios on selecting all the stamps and associated imagery featured in the issue.
Dennis through the years:
Dennis – ‘the world’s wildest boy’ – was first brought to life in a pencil sketch on the back of a cigarette packet in January 1951. Seventy years later, his mischievous pranks and cheeky grin have not only earned him a place in the hearts of readers of all ages but also ensured that he remains one of Beano’s most famous creations.
Dennis made his first appeared in issue no. 452 of Beano, dated 17 March 1951. It would be another few weeks before he donned his legendary red and black striped jumper, but in this half-page strip, illustrated by artist David Law, readers were offered their first glimpse of the cheeky schoolboy in action as he ignored signs to ‘keep off the grass’ at a local park with hilarious results.
Prior to 1954, Dennis’s strip appeared either in black and white – as per his very first appearance – or supplemented with red, but in February of that year, ‘the world’s wildest boy’ went on his first full-colour adventure on Beano’s back page. Of course, full colour only heightened the mischief, and as Dennis embarked on a day of trainspotting, he not only tricked the train station staff to get onto the platform but ultimately found himself driving the train.
In August 1968, Dennis’s life changed forever when he met a stray Abyssinian wire-haired tripe hound whom he decided to name Gnasher. In the first story featuring the now infamous duo, Gnasher proved that he was just as much of a prankster as his human pal when he swiped a bone from one of the ‘pampered pooches’ at a local dog show – and a fight ensued. Gnasher would go on to star in his own strip from 1977.
After 26 years on the cover of Beano, Biffo the Bear was finally ousted from the front page by Dennis in September 1974. It was a change that had been hinted at two years previously, when Dennis announced his desire to star on the front cover while featuring in a Biffo strip, and it is one that, over the years, has proved incredibly successful – Dennis has appeared on the front cover of almost every issue of the Beano since.
Dennis first met his porcine chum Rasher in May 1979, when he spotted the ‘fine porker’ jumping on his trough at Wurzle Farm. After Dennis agreed to take Rasher off the farmer’s hands, the pig further endeared himself to Dennis when they ran into Walter Brown and he pushed over Dennis’s arch-nemesis, breaking his piggy bank. In 1984, thanks to his popularity with readers, Rasher was given his own strip, which ran regularly in Beano until 1988.
Shortly after Beano celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1998, Dennis’s mum and dad had a big surprise in store for Dennis: his mum was pregnant! In the 19 September issue, Dennis’s little sister – Bea – arrived. Although Dennis was initially hesitant at the prospect of having a girl in the family, it turned out that Bea was not unlike her big brother when it came to causing mischief.
In May 2015, Dennis fans were left gobsmacked when Beano revealed that Dennis’s dad was in fact Dennis 30 years earlier. In the strip, footage was unearthed of Dennis Senior as a boy in which the youngster – dressed as Dennis from older editions of the comic – could be seen engaging in a variety of pranks that, in the present, suitably impressed his young son.
The stamps and range of collectible products are available from here.