Dennis The Menace (UK Comics) - Strip History - Dave Sutherland Strips (1970 - 1998)

1998)

In 1970, Davey Law took ill and retired from the strip, leaving Dennis in need of a new artist. Dave Sutherland, who was already the artist of Biffo the Bear and The Bash Street Kids, was chosen. Law's final Dennis strip consisted of Dennis helping his father with the carpeting after Gnasher ruins it. Seeing a window of opportunity while his father is busy with fitting the new carpet, Dennis nails the slipper usually used to punish him to the floor. He then abandons his father causing the carpet they were laying to roll up and comically trap his dad. Far from being deterred from punishing his son, Dennis' dad saws his slippers from the floor and chases Dennis with them. The next strip was drawn by Gorden Bell as an artist had not yet been chosen. This depicted Dennis boasting to an ill Walter that he never had to sneeze due to his toughness. However, Gnasher accidentally fetched pepper for Dennis rather than paper causing him to sneeze. Walter, who happens to be passing gloats 'Look at the tough guy who never has to sneeze!'. Then, on 8 August, Sutherland did his first Dennis comic. Dennis made a cameo in a Biffo the Bear story in 1970 citing his wish to be on the cover. This dialogue proved to be almost prophetic as he became the cover star of the comic in 1974, a position he still holds today. His first cover adventure showed readers a close up of Dennis as he told them he always 'fancied being on the cover'. He then knocks Biffo, the then current cover star, on the head and marks the page his territory.

Dennis’ popularity was emphasised in 1976 when he was awarded his own fan club. Members would get a membership card, a club wallet and two badges. This later became the foundation of The Beano Club years later. The club was well known for being popular amongst celebrities as well as Beano readers. Phil Lynott, Mark Hamill and Linford Christie were among many to join. A strip promoting an all new Dennis T-shirt for club members emerged in 1978. It featured a guest appearance from Minnie the Minx and consisted of the two fighting over who the red and black jersey image truly belongs to.

1978 also saw The Beano at 40. To celebrate Dennis’ weekly comic strip this week featured him celebrating his birthday and his menacing antics with his brand new cow boy outfit.

In 1980, The Beano reached a landmark 2000th issue. The front cover depicted Dennis offering to show readers the very first issue of the comic. Incidentally and fitting well with the character's menacing nature, the comic was at the bottom of the pile. The character was then featured in one of the very first Beano spin off comics, The Beano comic libraries. He was one of the first Beano characters to get a feature length story which in turn was called 'King Dennis'. Dennis was also a character present in the most successful Beano annual to date in 1983.

In 1986, one of Dennis’s very first story arcs appeared. Gnasher, his faithful companion, had gone missing. Distraught, Dennis asked readers to join him on a ‘Gnational Gnasher Search’. At first, Dennis’ dad was far happier without the tripe hound but as the week wore on he found himself missing him. The story wore on for seven weeks before Gnasher returned, a father with his six daughters and son, Gnipper, who would later become a key character.

On The Beano's 50th Anniversary, Dennis' strip consisted of him saving The Beano's birthday cake which had begun to float away after the rope in which the sailor was pulling it along with was cut by a nearby crab.

A landmark issue for Dennis appeared in 1991, as the Beano announced they were to change his image. The news received much media attention throughout the UK and it was later revealed to be a publicity stunt in the very strip the image was introduced. Dennis' new attire consisted of a blue tracksuit, sunglasses and headphones connected to a walkman. However, the tracksuit bottoms ripped due to Dennis' knobbly knees and he ditched the jacket as his father could catch him easier after he had menaced. The end of the strip showed Dennis returning in his trademark jersey and shorts and pea-shooting his arch-nemesis Walter. Dennis also played a vital role in the storyline in which The Beano was turned into colour. The front cover of the famous 2674th issue of the comic depicted Dennis spraying other famous Beano characters with a hose of paint.

In 1993, Beano editor Euan Kerr was becoming concerned at the direction David Sutherland's depiction of the character was taking, with Dennis becoming ever stockier and larger. Kerr, feeling that Dennis was beginning to resemble a thuggish teenager rather than the naughty boy he was intended to be, told Sutherland to make Dennis look younger in appearance. As a result, Dennis was made shorter, with a smaller chin. He retained his familiar outfit, but started to wear trainers. These changes were also made with the intention of making the character easier to animate for the forthcoming Beano Video.

In 1996, the first Dennis animated series was released on the UK station Fox Kids, with a second series following in 1998.

After the Beano's 60th anniversary issue in 1998, David Sutherland stopped drawing the strip, and was replaced by former Billy Whizz and The Three Bears artist, David Parkins.

Read more about this topic:  Dennis The Menace (UK Comics), Strip History, Dave Sutherland Strips (1970

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