Dennis and Gnasher ZOOOM / Nicola Lane 2021 / ink jet on paper / colours by Dee Cunniffe / Commissioned by Somerset House Trust with support from the Adonyeva Foundation / Courtesy of the artist.
In the text accompanying Dennis and Gnasher ZOOOM, exhibition curator and artist Andy Holden writes:
"In the 1970s Nicola Lane drew a series of strips for the Underground newspaper International Times (IT) using the pen name 'Sensa Parolee', which featured Dennis the Menace, the Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx, as well as Beryl the Peril, in the guise of their 1970s adult selves. Lane felt the anarchic Beano world perfectly represented the 1970s Notting Hill in which she lived. She updated the characters to be in their 20s, unemployed, living in squats, and discovering radical politics.
For this exhibition, Lane has been commissioned to reimagine the iconic characters as they could be had they aged with the passage of time. Dennis, now 70, and Minnie, in her late 60s, are connecting to chat over Zoom. Minnie is a 'hardcore feminist', but also a 'wellness workshop coordinator'. We see flashbacks to Lane's previous strips of the 1970s and see how the characters might have changed if the concept of time and ageing had entered the pages of The Beano."
Paul Gravett, writer, curator, publisher and renowned specialist in International Comics Art, writes:
"Big, bright, brash and bonkers, this BEANO Extravaganza at Somerset House, London is by far the largest ever exhibition in the UK devoted to a single, and singular, British comic, coinciding with Dennis the Menace hitting 70 this year (or seven times his 10th birthday!) Lots of highlights, especially 100+ original artworks by greats like Dudley Watkins, Davy Law, Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid and SO many others.
A real standout for me was the brilliant new whole-wall-sized comic created by Nicola Lane, in the upstairs annexe section marked 'Warning!!! Things Your Parents Might Like'..."
Read more about how Nicola Lane approached the challenges of creating her commission in Dalia Al-Dujaili's piece for https://www.itsnicethat.com/:
"...For the new comic strip exhibited in the Somerset House-based retrospective, Nicola had to start thinking about Dennis’ “survival as an iconic character,” asking herself, “has print technology changed him as much as social attitudes?” Dennis was born in 1953, Nicola was born in 1949. “We are both Baby Boomers!” she proclaims...
In The Camden New Journal article "Dennis, the has-Beano", readers are invited to identify the location of the Hercules Fish Bar, pictured below in Dennis' memories of the 1970s:
",,,Minnie’s red-and-black look once chimed with the anarchist and feminist dissent and activism of the punk years – but 21st-century social disenchantment now doubly betrays these deep friends of our youth..."