Did you read comics as a child? Perhaps you still do.

The 1950s was something of a golden age for British ‘funny’ comics. Popular favourites The Dandy (which had started in 1937) and The Beano (1938), produced by Dundee-based publisher, DC Thomson were already well-established at the start of the decade.

But while The Dandy already had some of its most famous stories such as Korky the Cat and the super-strong cowboy, Desperate Dan, many of The Beano’s best-known characters were yet to appear.

Exceptions to this included posh boy, Lord Snooty and his Pals which had been with the comic from the start and Biffo the Bear which had replaced the ostrich Big Eggo as the Beano’s cover star in 1948.

The arrival of Dennis the Menace, drawn by Denis Law in March 1951 changed everything. It would be a couple of months before he adopted his trademark black and red striped jumper and his canine companion, Gnasher would not actually appear until 1968, but from the outset Dennis’s anarchic spirit and sense of realism (when compared to most Beano characters of the time) made an impact.

By the 1970s, Dennis had knocked Biffo off The Beano’s front page, a position he retains to this day.

By odd coincidence, in the same week, Dennis the Menace arrived in The Beano an entirely unrelated cartoon strip of the same name about a mischievous (in this case, blonde) boy and his dog began in the U.S. Both characters are still going strong today.

The American one is usually referred to just as ‘Dennis’ whenever it appears in the UK.

Anyway, the effect of Dennis the Menace in the UK was immediate, directly inspiring the talented young English artist, Leo Baxendale to relocate to Dundee and join The Beano. Baxendale would spend a decade on the comic, before falling out with DC Thomson in 1962. He would create some of their most famous strips in that time, notably The Bash Street Kids which started as When the Bell Rings in 1954 but which is still going today.

Minnie the Minx (in many ways, a female version of Dennis the Menace) is another of his creations which is still going today while the Wild West based stories, Little Plum and The Three Bears also enjoyed good long runs in The Beano.

Roger the Dodger also began around this time (1953) and again, is still in the comic today.

Soon, DC Thomson were expanding into new comics. Another menace, Beryl the Peril made her debut in a new comic, The Topper in 1953 while its sister title, The Beezer started in 1956.

The Beezer played host to another memorable story, The Numbskulls about a group of characters who live inside a person’s head. Another DC Thomson title, Sparky ran from 1965 to 1977, but The Beezer and The Topper would last much longer.

The 1960s, 70s and 80s would see DC Thomson facing a new set of rivals from IPC’s comics division, Fleetway. Buster, which launched in 1960 was only the most prominent of these. Other titles started springing up everywhere around this time.

Some such as Cor!!, Knockout, Jackpot, Monster Fun and School Fun were often short-lived. Other as two -comics-in-one title Whizzer and Chips which started in 1969, proved more enduring. Typically, the more short-lived titles would merge into a more enduring title such as Buster when their time ran out.

As a child growing up in the 1980s, I very much appreciated the wide variety of comics around. In addition to the regular weekly versions of ongoing titles like The Beano, Dandy, Topper, Beezer, Buster and Whizzer and Chips, there were always a wide variety of annuals, summer specials and comic libraries while even long defunct titles like Monster Fun and Cor!! still produced annuals and summer specials themselves.

Sadly, this is no longer the case. The industry went into meltdown during the 1990s. Of all the comics mentioned here, only The Beano still continues today.