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Beano - just for kids? 
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Joined: 31 Jul 2013, 01:03
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Here's a puzzler: One of the things often said to older readers of The Beano who think that it's not as good as it used to be, is that the comic is aimed at kids and that, as long as they like it, it's doing it's job. It's not meant for older readers, is the assertion. However, U.S. comics are generally aimed at an older readership nowadays, but many adults don't find them as good as they were when they were younger. Is this purely down to nostalgia for the comics of our youth, or could it actually be true that comics have taken a wrong turn somewhere and should be returned to a more 'all-ages' format.

Any thoughts?


11 Aug 2013, 02:04
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The Beano is primarily for kids and should cater for that generation. However if an adult still enjoys reading it there's nothing wrong with that but we should all be ready to accept that it will change with the times as with everything else.

I also don't think it's the case that comics have taken a wrong turn somewhere, I think it's more an era thing for some people and they prefer how things were when they was kids. I could say the same when I see my nieces watch kids TV today but I know that's how things move on.


11 Aug 2013, 10:12
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Gilly wrote:
The Beano is primarily for kids and should cater for that generation. However if an adult still enjoys reading it there's nothing wrong with that but we should all be ready to accept that it will change with the times as with everything else.

I also don't think it's the case that comics have taken a wrong turn somewhere, I think it's more an era thing for some people and they prefer how things were when they was kids. I could say the same when I see my nieces watch kids TV today but I know that's how things move on.


However, the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons are loved by everyone, kids and adults alike. Why shouldn't humour comics have the same aspiration? Catering for a non-exclusive age-group. I'm sure it could be done. Some of the early Dennis the Menace strips would've brought a chuckle from kids and their parents because of the situations in them.


11 Aug 2013, 10:59
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I agree that the Tom and Jerry cartoons are timeless classics that will still probably be watched for years to come.

I think the main problem with humour comics going down that route is the attitude of people in the UK. A lot of adults have treat them as childish throwaway tat compaired to other countries leaving only mainly kids reading them. However with more forms of entertainment out there today most comics have died off. As the sole uk humour comic The Beano has to fight to appeal to the current generation otherwise it will go the same way as the rest.

However I do think The Beano has timeless classic characters in Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger and The Bash Street Kids. Naughty kid characters will always appeal to kids so if you think about it to a degree the Beano is doing what it has done since the 50s, just now more modern.


11 Aug 2013, 11:29
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Kid Robson wrote:
Here's a puzzler: One of the things often said to older readers of The Beano who think that it's not as good as it used to be, is that the comic is aimed at kids and that, as long as they like it, it's doing it's job. It's not meant for older readers, is the assertion. However, U.S. comics are generally aimed at an older readership nowadays, but many adults don't find them as good as they were when they were younger. Is this purely down to nostalgia for the comics of our youth, or could it actually be true that comics have taken a wrong turn somewhere and should be returned to a more 'all-ages' format.

Any thoughts?



Well, I think the comics used to be fundamentally aimed at kids, which was their strength; it's if adult fanboys start writing for their peers that you're in trouble. The old UK comics - in days of tremendous sales - never forgot that their readership was, first and foremost, children, and, in many ways that "restriction" seemed to work for them very well.

It was the same with US comics, really. Superheroes were for kids: characters with names like 'Doctor Doom' and 'Mister Fantastic' (transformed by "cosmic rays" or a radioactive spider bite!) are clearly not intended for adults; these characters were created to appeal to the eight-to-ten year olds of the Thirties/Forties and Sixties, and, sold on news-stands, at pocket money prices, were a huge success. Start aiming these children's characters at adults, and filling them with "unsavoury" adult content (bringing in too much "realism" - or, often enough, cynical nihilism - to appealingly unrealistic, escapist concepts) and their original, universal appeal gets damaged. They become children's characters and concepts awkwardly aimed at forty-somethings. Yet, when they were aimed at children, and well realised, they had a wide readership of different ages.

If a parent of today wanted to pass on the comic bug to his ten year old and find a regular Spider-Man, Hulk, Batman, etc. comic he could read ... he'd have difficulty, wouldn't he?

The irony is, of course, that when kids' comics are done really well, full of creative invention, imaginative whimsy and fun, and are brilliantly drawn, they do have a broader appeal, which can - and did - draw older readers in, too.

I think the "people preferring things how they were when they were kids" criticism can be misleading. People often don't complain about change per se, but what they see as specifically a change for the worse: either a drop in standards of craftsmanship, or signs of the "dumbing down" and crassness so endemic in society (which they consider less than ideal for children), or things that are blatantly pushing product, for example.


Last edited by Raven on 11 Aug 2013, 12:45, edited 2 times in total.



11 Aug 2013, 12:11
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Gilly wrote:
I agree that the Tom and Jerry cartoons are timeless classics that will still probably be watched for years to come.

I think the main problem with humour comics going down that route is the attitude of people in the UK. A lot of adults have treat them as childish throwaway tat compaired to other countries leaving only mainly kids reading them. However with more forms of entertainment out there today most comics have died off. As the sole uk humour comic The Beano has to fight to appeal to the current generation otherwise it will go the same way as the rest.

However I do think The Beano has timeless classic characters in Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger and The Bash Street Kids. Naughty kid characters will always appeal to kids so if you think about it to a degree the Beano is doing what it has done since the 50s, just now more modern.


It's true that The Beano has a job on it's hands in appealing to kids of today, but I think one of the mistakes it may be making is to 'write down' to an increasingly younger audience. Surely, as in the past, stories can be constructed in such a way as to appeal to a younger generation, while not excluding an older one? The 2009 Bash Street Kids Annual displayed, in some ways, quite a sophisticated sense of humour that would've amused a teenage or adult readership as much as one comprised of children.


11 Aug 2013, 12:38
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Raven wrote:
Kid Robson wrote:
Here's a puzzler: One of the things often said to older readers of The Beano who think that it's not as good as it used to be, is that the comic is aimed at kids and that, as long as they like it, it's doing it's job. It's not meant for older readers, is the assertion. However, U.S. comics are generally aimed at an older readership nowadays, but many adults don't find them as good as they were when they were younger. Is this purely down to nostalgia for the comics of our youth, or could it actually be true that comics have taken a wrong turn somewhere and should be returned to a more 'all-ages' format.

Any thoughts?



Well, I think the comics used to be fundamentally aimed at kids, which was their strength; it's if adult fanboys start writing for their peers that you're in trouble. The old UK comics - in days of tremendous sales - never forgot that their readership was, first and foremost, children, and, in many ways that "restriction" seemed to work for them very well.

It was the same with US comics, really. Superheroes were for kids: characters with names like 'Doctor Doom' and 'Mister Fantastic' (transformed by "cosmic rays" or a radioactive spider bite!) are clearly not intended for adults; these characters were created to appeal to the eight-to-ten year olds of the Thirties/Forties and Sixties, and, sold on news-stands, at pocket money prices, were a huge success. Start aiming these children's characters at adults, and filling them with "unsavoury" adult content (bringing in too much "realism" - or, often enough, cynical nihilism - to appealingly unrealistic, escapist concepts) and their original, universal appeal gets damaged. They become children's characters and concepts awkwardly aimed at forty-somethings. Yet, when they were aimed at children, and well realised, they had a wide readership of different ages.

The irony is, of course, that when kids' comics are done really well, full of creative invention, imaginative whimsy and fun, and are brilliantly drawn, they do have a broader appeal, which can - and did - draw older readers in, too.

I think the "people preferring things how they were when they were kids" criticism can be misleading. People often don't complain about change per se, but what they see as specifically a change for the worse: either a drop in standards of craftsmanship, or signs of the "dumbing down" and crassness so endemic in society (which they consider less than ideal for children), or things that are blatantly pushing product, for example.


Know what? I think I'd certainly agree with most of what you say - perhaps even all of it. I think that's what I was trying to say, but you hit the nail more squarely on the head.


11 Aug 2013, 12:40
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Kid Robson wrote:
It's true that The Beano has a job on it's hands in appealing to kids of today, but I think one of the mistakes it may be making is to 'write down' to an increasingly younger audience. Surely, as in the past, stories can be constructed in such a way as to appeal to a younger generation, while not excluding an older one? The 2009 Bash Street Kids Annual displayed, in some ways, quite a sophisticated sense of humour that would've amused a teenage or adult readership as much as one comprised of children.


The problem is though The Bash Street Kids annual doesn't get made anymore, that might have even been the last one.

I personally prefer The Beano as it was back in the 80s and 90s (my favourite era) but sales comes into as well and you can't blame them for trying to cater to their biggest audience which is kids. Now if the sales of The Beano dropped after these recent changes then we might see it reverted back to something more traditional.

I do see where you are both coming from though.


11 Aug 2013, 13:06
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This is a point I've been wanting to bring up for a while.

Whilst it's no doubt that The Beano is for kids, its readership isn't just children - in fact, I'm pretty sure the amount of older readers (12 and over) covers a huge percentage of The Beano's readership. I started reading The Beano back in 2007, aged 10, when I started reading the comic I was in the Beano's target audience age group (8-11) and have been buying The Beano week in week out ever since.

It seems unfair (and I've noticed this recently), how much the older audience are ignored. Their opinions are almost always not valid, even though at some point we were all in The Beano's target audience. We still enjoy the comic and still support it, so why should we be ignored just because we're outside that very small target audience age-range? The thing is, and I make this point a lot, The Beano is a comic which likes to bring back old classics (as we saw in the first wave of Funsize Funnies with characters such as Little Plum, Lord Snooty and Biffo the Bear returning) and to most readers in the Beano's target audience, they have no idea who these characters are and their past. The classics are brought back to please the older readers (and it works most of the time), so surely the older readers do matter as The Beano are bringing back these classics specifically for the older readers. If they do this to please the older readers, why can't they listen to their opinions also?

After all, we still buy the comic and we still support them - so why can't they just listen to us and our views?

TL;DR: If we buy The Beano regularly and support it - why are our opinions ignored?

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11 Aug 2013, 13:17
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WizzKid97 wrote:
The thing is, and I make this point a lot, The Beano is a comic which likes to bring back old classics (as we saw in the first wave of Funsize Funnies with characters such as Little Plum, Lord Snooty and Biffo the Bear returning) and to most readers in the Beano's target audience, they have no idea who these characters are and their past. The classics are brought back to please the older readers ...



I suspect that's more likely intended to attract parents to buy the comic for their kids, rather than for the parents to actually read it themselves.


11 Aug 2013, 13:22
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Raven wrote:
WizzKid97 wrote:
The thing is, and I make this point a lot, The Beano is a comic which likes to bring back old classics (as we saw in the first wave of Funsize Funnies with characters such as Little Plum, Lord Snooty and Biffo the Bear returning) and to most readers in the Beano's target audience, they have no idea who these characters are and their past. The classics are brought back to please the older readers ...



I suspect that's more likely intended to attract parents to buy the comic for their kids, rather than for the parents to actually read it themselves.


Given that the classics were rarely shown on the front covers of The Beano, I'm not so sure about that. Besides, the parents wouldn't buy it just because they saw Baby-Face Finlayson or Les Pretend was in there - if they were interested in the classic characters, they'd care more about Dennis, Minnie, Roger etc.

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11 Aug 2013, 13:51
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Lord Snooty and Biffo the Bear might come into that category for adults though.

In fact my Dad still thought Biffo was still on the cover until the other week and was shocked when I told him he hasn't been there since 1974. :lol:


11 Aug 2013, 14:17
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WizzKid97 wrote:
Given that the classics were rarely shown on the front covers of The Beano, I'm not so sure about that. Besides, the parents wouldn't buy it just because they saw Baby-Face Finlayson or Les Pretend was in there - if they were interested in the classic characters, they'd care more about Dennis, Minnie, Roger etc.


No, but flicking through it, there might be a nostalgic association where they feel happy that their kid is continuing with their old reading traditions. Though it may just be that the staff can't resist getting their hands on those "classic" characters, and get a fanboy buzz from adding their own contributions! And they are tried and tested characters.

I'm still wary that those mini-strips are especially to attract adult readers because the humour is so basic and unsophisticated, it's not likely to be something that would really interest or entertain older people.


11 Aug 2013, 14:24
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I think certain comics (like The Beano) should most definitely be aimed for kids. We all, I believe, came to comics as kids, and sometimes I think it's easy to forget why. They offered us up something that was just for us, or so it seemed, full of anarchy and fun. The explosion of creativity in The Beano in the 1950s came about as the powers-that-be realised they had to better reflect the kids of the day, but since then the kids of the 1950s have been used as the exact same template for decades thereafter, which I believe did somewhat alienate later generations.

I remember, as a child of the 80s, reading the Beano and thinking even then that it seemed oddly old-fashioned and didn't really talk to me. It was all very well drawn, and quite amusing, but most of it left me wishing someone would draw somthing that I could relate to better. I never could quite understand why all the dads wore suits, why the teachers wore those funny hats. I soon found myself buying it not for the main characters, but for the then newer strips that just felt more 'alive' - like Calamity James, when that began in the late 80s. It really felt anarchic and chaotic, and that's something kids relate to very well. When you're a child, there's a natural desire to 'kick against' your parents and adults a bit, to have something for yourself that those dull adults don't get! Too often, though, the Beano felt like something adults whole-heartedly approved off, whereas once upon a time it may have raised eyebrows or made parents shake their heads sadly, wishing little Timmy was still reading stories about friendly bears in waistcoats or something.

I think that's why I gravitated more towards Buster and Oink! as I grew up, stuff that felt a bit more energetic and varied. And then, in my early teens, I discovered The Simpsons, and the family dynamic in that was MUCH more in line with what I knew, and the naughty boy was MUCH more naughty, and suddenly The Beano felt like reading something from the 1890s.

So yeah, I don't envy DCT for the tightrope they have to walk in trying to appease the small number of older fans and their target audience of children. But I like what they're doing now, where they're opening the doors to new styles and characters, and embarking on a period of renewed creativity that I hope will yield some formidable talents, and give the comic back to the kids. While this might ruffle the feathers of those who read it growing up in the 50s/60s or whenever, I'd hope they'd remember the thrill of reading something for them as a child, and allow the kids of today that same joy. The new direction doesn't overwrite the childhoods of yesterday, they'll always be intact. It's time to make fresh childhood memories for new generations.

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11 Aug 2013, 14:54
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Very well-put, Andy. I must say I agree with a lot of what you have said then.

Whilst I'm glad The Beano is changing and it's finding ways to live on by bringing in new artists and new ideas, I feel it's still not working. Whether The Beano likes it or not, they do have an older readership and whilst they should still aim to make a comic that pleases the target audience of 8-11 - they still need to remember that they do have other fans who may stop buying the comic due to these new changes. Whilst I like most of the more recent changes and I like the addition of new artists and writers, I still feel the celebrities do not work whatsoever and I know others also dislike this move.

I'm not saying The Beano should be like "We should remove the celebrities as older readers dislike them." but what they should do is a Beano survey and ask every single reader what they want inside The Beano, what they like and dislike and what they think works well in The Beano. It's all very well basing the comic off of the feedback you got back from the readers (ages 8-11) via email but it isn't enough. Many kids aged 8-11 don't have email accounts either (I got my first email address when I went into secondary school in late 2008) so clearly emailing the editor doesn't fully get across the majority's opinions.

The Beano have done surveys before and they work well. They can have a rating list of different stories in The Beano which have appeared since the August 2012 revamp and allow the readers to either vote 'good', 'alright' or 'bad' to determine which stories are popular and which ones are not.

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11 Aug 2013, 15:20
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