Now the Beano has comic has pivoted to created comic strips for an adult audience to help bring them some much-needed light relief.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his controversial right-hand man Dominic Cummings are both lampooned in a new special festive edition of the comic.
They are mocked in a free pull-out section dubbed “Beanold” which recalls some of the key events and characters in 2020, including Mr Cummings’ ill-fated trip to Barnard Castle in Durham, when he infamously broke the UK’s lockdown rules.
The Prime Minister is depicted making a visit to “Beanotown,” the fictional hometown for the comic’s characters, with prompts scrawled on his hand, while a police officer who stops the PM’s car while Mr Cummings is at the wheel jokes about his previous “car crash” appearance at his Downing Street rose garden press conference.
Beano Studios, the Dundee-based creators of the weekly comic, which started life in July 1938, have announced the additional of the pull-out to coincide with the launch of a festive campaign, dubbed the “Gnational Elf Service,” which is at reviving the spirits of the nation, echoing the efforts of publisher DC Thomson to keep bringing the comic out during the Second World War.
The new pull-out, which is said to have been “written specifically for grown-ups,” features Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford, who has won acclaim for his free school meals campaign, and Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised millions for charity by walking laps of his garden in the run-up to his 100th birthday.
Other well-known figures to appear in the “Beano for adults” pull-out include Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who offers advice on how to grow your own Christmas tree.
Dennis the Menace’s mum and dad recall how their lives have been thrown into turmoil by toilet roll shortages, home schooling, Zoom quizzes and Mr Menace losing his job. Mrs Menace is also revealed to have a secret crush on actor Tom Hardy.
The eight-page pull-out also features a cameo from Desperate Dan, the iconic character from The Dandy comic, his first appearance in a comic since the latter was published for the last time in 2012. The wild west hero announces an equivalent of the “clap for carers” in Beanotown in recognition of everyone’s efforts for making it through 2020.
Mike Stirling, editorial director of Beano Studios, said: “We’ve formed our very own Gnational Elf Service to help spread laughs and keep the nation smiling this Winter.
“We love bringing kids laughs every week but 2020 has been so tough that, for the first time in 82 years we’ve created a comic that kids can give to adults to share some much needed Beano lolz.”
Mr Stirling said the Beano had a track record of “poking fun at authority figures,” recalling how it had sent Jacon Rees-Mogg a “cease and desist” letter asking him to stop impersonating Walter the Softy.
He added: “Boris Johnson actually got chased off Tower Bridge by a dinosaur when he was London Mayor and we've featured Barack Obama on the cover before. Over the years various Prime Ministers have made fleeting appearances. Beano loves to poke fun at authority figures so the PM will always fit the bill, whichever party they represent.
“I imagine it will be quite poignant for the PM, as he's pictured with his faithful sidekick for possibly the last time.
“We sent a copy to Number Ten last week but it's anyone's guess whether it went straight to the top man, or whether Boris got it.
"The rumour, from a government source, was that Dominic Cummings nabbed it for his leaving goodie box.
"If it was left behind at least it will keep the Prime Minister's spirits high during his lockdown.”