Dennis the Menace (UK)

From Academic Kids

Dennis the Menace, as drawn by David Law

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 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 managed to grab the front cover, replacing Biffo the Bear, and has been there ever since.

Coincidentally three days earlier 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.

Dennis the Menace and Gnasher was first drawn by David Law (19511970), then David Sutherland (19701998) and currently David Parkins (1998 – ), though Nigel Parkinson also occasionally draws the strip. The main recurring storyline throughout the years features Dennis' campaign of terror against a gang of 'softies', particularly Walter. Bad things tend to happen to Walter quite regularly.

Dennis usually used to get away with his mischief for a while before ending up getting a spanking from his father. This involved striking the buttocks, for which Dennis' father used a slipper. Dennis' best defence involved sticking a thick book down his shorts. Despite the fact that a book is a markedly different shape from buttocks, his dad never noticed. Dennis' grandma also had a slipper, except it was made of elephant skin and called 'The Demon Whacker'. Since the 1980s, however, the slipper is no longer used.

Missing image
Dennis the Menace as drawn between and

A few weeks after the strip's launch, Dennis started wearing a striped red-and-black jumper, which along with his spiky hair has become his trademark. He uses his faithful pea shooter, catapult and water pistol.

A Dennis the Menace fan club was set up in 1976. By the time it was replaced with The Beano Club in 1998, it had reached over a million members (the millionth occurring in 1988), including Mark Hamill in 1979.

A Dennis the Menace animated cartoon began airing on BBC One (as part of CBBC) in 1996, with another series following in 1998. Originally called Dennis the Menace in the UK, for international broadcast, the series was renamed Dennis and Gnasher.


Over the years a variety of subsidiary characters have arisen.

Dennis' Dad, along with Dennis himself, appeared in the first strip. His hair loss is down to Dennis' menacing, and his real name has never been given. He also appears in both Bea and Gnasher and Gnipper. The real name of his wife, Dennis' Mum, has also never been given.

Bea is Dennis' little sister, born in issue 2931, dated 19 September 1998. She has her own strip (Bea) and sometimes appears in Dennis the Menace and Gnasher.

Gnasher is a black dog owned by Dennis (an Abyssinian wire-haired tripehound) who first appeared in issue 1363, dated 31 August 1968. He has extremely strong teeth that can leave teethmarks in seemingly anything, and is usually called upon by Dennis to 'gnash' their way out of situations; however, he usually prefers to bite the postal workers in the mornings.

Missing image
Gnasher- Dennis's dog sidekick

Since 1986 Gnasher has had a son, Gnipper, who appears with him in the separate strip Gnasher and Gnipper. He first appeared in issue 2286, dated 10 May 1986. Gnasher also has several daughters, their names being Gnatasha, Gnaomi, Gnanette, Gnorah and Gnancy, though these tend not to be seen much. He also used to have another strip, Gnasher's Tale, which began in 1977 and continued for another nine years.

Rasher is a pig (hence the name) and is Dennis' other loyal pet, first seen in issue 1920, dated 5 May 1979. He loves to eat swill and was rescued by Dennis. Rasher also has children, their names being Oink, Snort, Grunt, Squeal, and Squeak. He also used to have his own strip called Rasher, which started in 1984 and continued for another four years, bar a few one off appearances after that.

Dennis has also been seen with his pet spider called Dasher. He first appeared in about 1997, and was the mascot of the Beano website when it launched a year later.

Dennis also has two main friends. Curly was the first to appear, appearing a few months after the strip started in 1951. He has a lot of blonde, curly hair, hence his name. In a 1996 episode of the animated TV series entitled 'The Bath-Night Club', we learnt he has a little brother named Spiky. He has spiky hair, and, according to Curly, could not escape and was put in the bath. The next day he started smelling of soap and began prancing about with Softies and girls. The episode was reprinted in print form in 1998 as Number 81 of The Beano Super Stars.

Pie-Face (Real name 'Kevin') is the second. His favourite food is pies, hence the name.

Together, Dennis, Curly and Pie-Face battle the Softies, a group of children who enjoy things such as teddy bears, dolls and flowers. The most famous, Dennis' sworn enemy, is a character called Walter, the 'Prince of Softies'. He has a pet poodle called Foo-Foo and a cat named Fluffy. The two most other frequently seen Softies are Algernon 'Spotty' Perkins and Bertie Blenkinsop, who are usually seen playing with him. Walter, Spotty and Bertie once had a competition to decide who had the cutest teddy, but they agreed that they were all lovely. In a 1984 strip both their pets were seen, two dogs called Yorkie and Papillon, although it did not state which pet belong to which Softy. Other softies include Dudley Nightshirt, Jeremy Snodgrass and Nervous Rex, a character who is scared of everything and everyone.

See also

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