Tuesday, September 21, 2021

My hero: The Beano by Danny Wallace

Tales from Dundee … The Beano. Photograph: DC Thomson & Co. Ltd

My hero: 

The Beano by Danny Wallace

The comedian and author on how the comic celebrates storytelling and the joys of a joke

Friday 3 April 2015


ecently, I was at a big party where I found myself standing between two rock stars. The kind of people to whom you want to ask questions – not because you want answers, but because you want stories. We all want stories.

And then a man I recognised walked past. His name is Mike Stirling. “This man has the best job in Britain,” I said, importantly. “He is editor-in-chief of the Beano.” The rock stars immediately forgot themselves. They were children again. One asked Mike if he knew “the password” (if you’re not in the Dennis the Menace fan club, I’m afraid I can’t tell you), and of course Mike did. Of course we all did.

I was born in Dundee, just like the comic. The Beano helped me find an enthusiasm for reading. But it taught me much more, too: how stories work, and the joys of getting a joke and then wanting to tell it. On some level it taught me about the logic of a world – and how important it is in storytelling to stick to it. It seemed amazing to me that the characters I adored – Dennis, Gnasher, the Bash Street Kids – all came to life somewhere in my city. I always wanted to visit the office and meet the editor.

A couple of years back, I did. On a freezing, rainy Dundee January morning, there was an older man waiting for me in reception. I say “older”. He was perhaps 80. In his hands were several rolled-up sheets of A3 paper. I slowly realised it was Dave Sutherland. Dennis the Menace looks a little different as times change and style changes with them, but this man was the person who drew the Dennis of my childhood. He was still drawing in pencil and ink at home on paper and then hand-delivering it to the office. No stylus needed. No email sent. Just an idea for a story and 50 years of experience. He was the Beano. I was his reader.

We all want stories. This comic, still lovingly crafted in Dundee, was the first time stories really felt made for me. And I know I’m not the only one.

 Danny Wallace’s Hamish and the Worldstoppers is published by Simon and Schuster


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002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm


017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey

036 My hero / Robert Lowell by Jonathan Raban
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Lynch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

079 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
100 Thomas Tranströmer by Robin Robertson
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill


190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer

250 My hero John Bayley by Richard Eyre


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