Dennis the Menace gets a revamp

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By Cara Sulieman

CHILDREN’S comic favourite Dennis the Menace has been given a 21st century makeover.

Athough he has kept hold of his trademark stripey jumper and black shorts, it was revealed yesterday that he could have undergone a far more radical change.

Designs put forward for the tearaway kid included a spray can-wielding hoodie and a spaced out scruff to make him more in-keeping with elements of today’s youth.

But the Manga style images were dismissed and creators decided to go for a more traditional Dennis look – just without the trademark catapult.

The new look – unveiled in the latest edition published today – will be used in the Beano as well as the new BBC animation ‘Dennis and Gnasher’, which is due to hit screens later this year.

Morris Heggie, the Beano historian at publishers DC Thomson, said: “Some of the looks put forward were very popular.

“There were some really strong ideas with hoodies, jeans and even one where he looks like Liam Gallagher – but a few were a bit radical.

“If we were introducing Dennis the Menace for the first time some of these would be great, but we’d be inventing a new character. People already have an idea of Dennis.

“Dennis’s look has evolved since he was introduced in the fifties. But he wouldn’t be Dennis without his spiky hair, stripey jersey and, most importantly, his knobbly knees.”

One of the potential designs for Dennis
One of the potential designs for Dennis

Plans to “soften up” the legendary menace and his loyal companion came under fire when it was revealed that he would no longer carry his trusty catapult or get a beating from his father’s slipper in the new TV series.

The cartoon – which will start on CBBC on September 7 – aims to be “Britain’s answer to The Simpsons” and features a whole host of new characters.

Frank Gresham, creative assistant producer, said: “Since Dennis is already very much an established character, we had to make sure he looked as close to what everyone recognises as Dennis as possible.

“To make sure our animators could animate him without problems, he did undergo certain changes. We made a promise to ourselves we’d only change what we absolutely had to of Dennis’s design.

“We felt we had to keep all of the elements of his clothing and his features.”

New characters include a joke shop owner called Mr Har Har, and a rock star called Ratbucket.

Even the old staples have been revamped, with Dennis’s long term rival Walter swapping his teddy bear for a sneakier personality.

A BBC spokesman said: “Like many cartoon characters, Dennis the Menace has been evolving ever since its creation, so changes are nothing new.

“The Beano comic-book style of the 1950s is very different to children’s expectations for their entertainment heroes today.”

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