Report – Case Study 1: Print to Screen, Periodical to Platform: the Beano Story
Chris Rose describes the Beano journey from everybody’s favourite comic to a modern media brand and a platform for entertainment content.
- The UK’s longest running comic has harnessed its digital platform to increase print sales.
- How updating the characters of Dennis and Gnasher have aligned them with today’s world.
- Unity between the comic team, digital team and trend-spotters create strength and success.
Moderator and writer Alex Collier introduced the session by describing the huge impact the Beano has had on him. “I absolutely loved the Beano and all I ever wanted to do was work for the Beano,” he said. “I worked for Viz which owes a huge debt to the Beano.”
He said that he recently wrote six episodes for the recent relaunch of ‘Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed’ for CBBC.
Chris Rose, Director, Development & Production for Beano Studios, then took delegates on a journey of the Beano’s development from comic to modern media brand and a platform for entertainment content:
Beano is UK’s longest running comic, and now developments have moved into the mining of the comic for different characters and avenues of development such as:
- Beano app
- Digital network
- IP business
- Digital partnerships
Fundamentally Beano is still an IP business and publisher, but the digital transformation and platform has led to growing numbers in comic sales.
‘Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed’ on CBBC has been developed, with live action comedy dramas in production. Early teens and family sit-coms are also coming. Theatrical productions have been announced next year as part of the 80 year anniversary. All IP will be moved into different platforms.
The Beano on television is not a new phenomonon: 128 episodes of ‘Dennis the Menace’ were produced in the 90s – but ‘Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed’ is not a new version of those episodes but a new version of Dennis for the current time, with Jellyfish the animation studio behind it. Dennis has been made relevant, reflecting modern society. He is no longer called a ‘Menace’ and the bullying aspect has been removed, although they have kept his rebellious and adventurous nature. Originally, Gnasher was born as the manifestation of Dennis’s hair – but now he has his own personality.
Other characters have been introduced really, with more diversity, including a wheelchair user and non-white characters, in order to reflect children in the schoolyard today.
The look of the show is very different to the 2D comic. Chris said they work closely with the Dundee comic team to ensure that the narrative ties in, and they are able to ‘seed in’ elements of the TV show into the magazine far in advance, which marries the comic world with the TV world, foreshadowing and retrospectively working between the two.
The setting of Beano stories is also important: Beano Town could be your town, or any town. The show is selling to international territories and it has been designed to be future-proofed and global. Its key aspects are action and humour.
Online, Beano’s Digital Platform will be releasing 20 pieces of content a day, and one new short-form animation a week. Working with a panel of trend-spotters at Beano – 8-10 year olds – provides vital intelligence about what is and isn’t working. This is crucial.
Finally, Chris reasserted that they are always looking for new ways to interlink and connect the Beano’s stock of 2,500 characters.
By Kelly Beckett