Comic books have a large audience and an even larger history.

Characters from the world of Beano Characters from the world of Beano

The comic book has some origins dating back to 18th-century Japan, however it didn’t become largely popularised until the 1930s thanks to readers in the United States and United Kingdom.

While the first modern comic book, Famous Funnies, was released in 1933 in the US, the subject of this article is The Beano Book.

The word ‘Beano’ is a shortened version of ‘Bean fast’, meaning ‘rowdy jollification’.

During World War II, paper shortages meant this rowdy jollification Beano was reduced to a slim 12 pages every two weeks.

Dennis the Menace Dennis the Menace

The world of Beano includes a variety of characters including the ever-popular Dennis the Menace. Dennis’ pet dog, Gnasher, is drawn from Dennis’ hair with legs added.

True fans will know the mischievous but loveable Dennis didn’t actually make an appearance until 1951, and first editions of Beano therefore won’t feature Dennis’ antics.

Today comic books range from comic strips to graphic novels and manga, alongside fan-made comics and webtoons - but nothing quite beats an original.

There are very few early editions of Beano in existence, particularly as they were published right on the outbreak of World War Two and had a small print run.

But we've got the first ever Beano annual, published in September 1939 and dated 1940, all thanks to Keys Fine Art Auctioneers.


Keys also has a number of other comics and children’s books going under the hammer on 30 and 31 August, including Rupert the Bear Annuals dating from 1930s onwards.

To discover more of the world of Beano, look no further than here.