Holden, it turns out, wasn’t the only one that had been working away, unwittingly, against the quiet background noise of the Beano. Artists he rang up to discuss the show with also admitted that they loved the comic, but without ever considering the effect it had on them during their formative years. The late David Bowie, says Holden, included the publication on his list of top 100 books, wedged somewhere between Madame Bovary and the Iliad.
Somerset House’s new exhibition explores the comic’s lasting, subversive influence, finding links between its gleeful rule-breaking and the work of contemporary artists and creatives
“I guess I started working on this show when I was eight years old,” jokes curator and artist Andy Holden, in his introduction to a major new Beano exhibition at London’s Somerset House – delayed for two years as a result of Covid, and now finally open to the public.

Dennis and Gnasher, 2000, artwork by David Parkins. All Beano archive images courtesy Beano