To celebrate Dennis the Menace’s 65th birthday, I’ve produced an edition of screenprints featuring the very first strip, from The Beano issue dated 17 March, 1951.
He doesn’t yet have his trademark red and black striped football jersey, but the shock of black hair and nobbly knees are there.
Since Dennis’s debut 65 years ago, he has become a kind of national mascot – what Asterix is to France, or Oor Wullie is to Scotland.
Dennis the Menace has gone through various phases since then, from the pocket-sized Satan of the 1950s, to the pugnatious youth of the 1960s and 1970s to the incorrigible imp of the 1990s.
In the 1960s, he was joined by his Abyssinian wire-haired tripe house, Gnasher. Gnasher seems to be made of the same kind of thing as Dennis the Menace’s hair – the untamed explosion of black hair symbolic of the chaos they embody.
He is a gift to the screenprinter, from a graphic point of view, with his red-and-white sriped jersey and explosion of black hair.