Beanotown unveiled: Why this huge Hollywood-style sign in Dundee was kept a secret


A secret Hollywood-style sign has been unveiled in Dundee to mark the city’s status as home of the famous Beano comic.

The Beanotown sign – which measures six metres high and 38 metres long – was kept under wraps for six months.

Preparations had been going on in the background, with Dundee City Council events officer Claire Dow revealing only a few people knew about it.

The Beano, which is the world’s longest-running children’s comic with an average monthly readership of 450,000 for children aged 6-12, is published by the Dundee-based company DC Thomson.

The city has long adopted its characters and their home of Beanotown as their own.

The sign, erected on Dundee Law, was put up to coincide with the Dundee Summer (Bash) Streets Festival which celebrates the city’s comic and publishing heritage, with two of the city’s most famous residents – Dennis the Menace and his dog Gnasher – lending a hand to build it.

Ms Dow said it was an idea that had been “kicking about for a while”.

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She added: “We thought: ‘wouldn’t it be hilarious to do a sign that said Beanotown’?”

Jude, eight, enjoys the mirror deformation effect during a Beano Easter festival photocall at Kew Gardens in London, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Kew Royal botanic Gardens arranged an Easter birthday bonanza celebrating 70 years of Dennis the menace, a famous comic strip character.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Dennis the Menace is one of the Beano’s most enduring characters

The idea came from Mike Stirling, the Beano’s creative director.

“This amazing opportunity to do the stunt that Mike had always wanted to do up the Law, has really just captured everybody’s imagination. Everybody was like ‘man, that would be fun’.”

Ms Dow said phone calls about the project were often made up of just six people.

“We’d left it very last minute,” she revealed. “Until something is real, and they’re seeing it in front of them, folk are very good at keeping secrets.

“If you say ‘look, we don’t really want folks to know’, then they’re very good at just keeping it quiet. So, it’s a combination of a really small, tight team, leaving things as late as we could.”

Artists through the generations

Those travelling to Dundee via car across the Tay Road bridge from Fife can see it, with the rail bridge also giving glimpses.

Ms Dow hailed the impact Beano publisher DC Thomson has had on the city through the generations.

“DC Thomson are a massive company in town. Everybody knows somebody who used to draw some of the comics or who used to paint pictures or used to write for them or work there.

“It’s a nod to Dundee. We’re quite irreverent. You know, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re a town with a sense of humour.”


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