Thomson

Thomson
   D.C.Thomson publishes 145 magazine and newspaper titles including Beano, Dandy, The Peoples’ Friend, Sunday Post, Weekly News and My Weekly. With contents emphasizing family values, readers are mostly aged forty-five or more. Sales of titles have slumped since the 1950s. By adopting new promotion strategies, D.C.Thomson is attempting to increase circulation in British and foreign markets. Popular in Scotland, the Sunday Post has approximately 2.5 million readers per week. The Guinness Book of Records (1990) listed the Sunday Post as the newspaper closest to saturation circulation, with an audience of 57 percent of Scottish people aged fifteen or more in 1988.
   Beano and Dandy comics have become institutions of British childhood, achieving acceptance by parents and children. Each issue contains slapstick stories of characters such as Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan. The largest circulation in any region is Southeast England, where 29 percent of children, mainly boys aged 7–15, form the readership. Dandy and Beano stories have changed little since their conception in the 1950s by Leo Baxendale (Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx) and David Law (Dennis the Menace, Beryl the Peril). Dudley Watkins invented Desperate Dan for the Dandy in the 1930s. In 1994 letters were written to The Times when it was rumoured that the Bash Street Kids teacher was to be replaced by a robot; however, this turned out to be a marketing ploy.
   Despite their popularity, the Beano and Dandy audience has declined from two million in the 1950s to 250,000 in the 1990s (audience figures for Beano and Dandy are combined). This decline is attributed to the rising popularity of computer games, television and globally marketed texts. Dandy and Beano also compete against comics with internationally promoted characters such as Tom and Jerry. By means of animated series produced for television and video, D.C.Thomson aims to increase interest in Dandy and Beano characters abroad. Licences for characters such as Dennis the Menace, Desperate Dan and Bash Street Kids began in 1988. They are featured in 70–80 product ranges including stationery, chewy bars, burger promotions and most successfully clothing for children and adults. Licensing nets approximately £75–£200 million per annum.
   Beano and Dandy have a mature cult following, which may explain the popularity of adult merchandise. However, to date there are no statistics available. The magazine Viz, a comic for adults, is influenced by and pastiches the anarchic humour of the Beano and Dandy.
   Further reading
    Barker, M. (1989) Comics: Ideology, Power and the Critics, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
   JOAN STEWART ORMROD

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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