Original Beano artwork from D C Thomson

Beano day at the National Library

Beano fans will get a rare glimpse of the first ever edition from 1938 at the National Library of Scotland at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow this Saturday (28 July).

Celebrating Beano’s 80th anniversary, the one-day pop-up exhibition will feature highlights from the Library’s extensive Beano collection – from decades-old summer specials to the latest editions. It will include a comic from 1952 that featured an early appearance of Dennis the Menace on the front cover. Despite being the most famous Beano character for many, he didn’t get regular front cover status until 1974.

Original artwork by legendary artists Leo Baxendale, David Law and David Sutherland from publisher D C Thomson’s archives will also be on display.

Graeme Hawley, Head of General Collections at the Library said:

“Beano is the world’s longest-running comic, introducing much-loved and popular characters such as Dennis and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx and the Bash Street Kids to millions of households throughout Britain. Its Scottish origins make it a particularly important title for us to collect and treasure for the nation, and we continue to collect all the latest editions.

“The first edition is extremely rare, with only a few copies believed to be in existence. We’re delighted to be celebrating the beloved comic’s birthday by offering members of the public the full Beano experience.”

A range of free activities for children aged 5–100 will also be on offer at the birthday bash, including themed football sessions at the sports centre, a prank workshop, an animation workshop, and a ‘whoopee’ noise listening post.

The one-day pop-up exhibition is made possible by a partnership with Glasgow Life, Beano Studios and DC Thomson & Co. Ltd.

Mike Stirling, Head of Beano Studios Scotland, said:

“There were nearly half a million copies of the first issue of Beano printed, but less than thirty are thought to remain, mainly in private collections, so this is an amazing opportunity for as many as people as possible to encounter one of the most sought after comics on the planet! 

“It’s arguably the most important single issue of a comic in history – the very first of billions of Beanos! Something which has been passed down through generations. It’s amazing to think that this was just the beginning of what has become the world’s longest running comic and I hope it inspires visitors to enjoy our past and become involved in our exciting future.”

The Beano pop-up day takes place from 10am–4pm on Saturday 28 July at the National Library of Scotland, Kelvin Hall, 1445 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8AW.

Beano dress-up encouraged but not essential. Entry is free.

Contact Information

Barbara Burke

National Library of Scotland

+44131 623 3738

+447904 791002


Notes to editors

Estimates vary but it is believed that between 12 and 25 copies of the first Beano have survived.

The very first Beano cost two old pennies. Its 28 pages were a mixture of funny comic strips and text adventure stories. The cover star of the first edition (and for the first 10 years) was Big Eggo, an ostrich in constant search for his lost egg. The troubled ostrich lost his front page position to Biffo the Bear in 1948.

The Beano was an instant success and by 1950, each issue was selling close to 2 million copies. Its popularity continues to this day with a comic sold every 17 seconds.

Further information about Beano

The children’s comic was first published by DC Thomson in July 1938 and is still put together in its original Dundee headquarters. The Beano comic continues to print in the UK, producing 75,000 comics every week. The brand reaches over 5m fans a month on its digital network, centred around multi-award winning Beano.com, featuring the hottest trends and most-loved content in a kid safe environment – from mad dance crazes and LOL-some comedy sketches to epic celebrity challenges and fresh new ‘toons.

About Beano Studios

Beano Studios creates rebellious entertainment worldwide. The Studio produces diverse entertainment across multiple destinations; including TV, digital content, theatrical projects, consumer products, creative collaboration, and the legendary comic and annual.

The National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots - an information treasure trove for Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture.

The Library’s collections are of world-class importance. Key areas include digital material, rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, moving images, official publications, business information, science and technology, and modern and foreign collections.

The Library holds more than 26 million physical items dating back over 1000 years in addition to a growing library of e-books, e-journals and other digital material. The collection includes more than four million books, eight million manuscripts, two million maps and more than 45,000 films and videos. Every week the Library collects around 3,000 new items. Most of these are received free of charge in terms of Legal Deposit legislation. 

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