Do you have an old Beano? Then you have an investment that could be worth £20k

Blimey! The value of old Beano comics is soaring as nostalgic investors snap up comic strip jolly japes they first enjoyed in their childhood.

Last week, publisher DC Thomson launched a Beano website to complement the comic – enabling young fans to also read about Dennis the Menace and The Bash Street Kids on smartphones and tablets.

The latest reinvention of The Beano shows its remarkable ability to survive with the times – it was launched just before the Second World War in 1938. Find one of these first Beano issues – of which only 20 are known to have survived – and you have an investment that could be worth £20,000.

Comic touch: Phil Shrimpton has every Beano from 1938 to 1988

Comic touch: Phil Shrimpton has every Beano from 1938 to 1988

The highest price paid for a first issue of The Beano is £17,300 last year – a huge leap on the estimated price of £5,000. The first Beano complete with a free gift ‘whoopee mask’ – of which only one has ever been discovered – sold for £6,820 in 1999. This might sell for £20,000 today.

These are healthy returns for a comic that cost tuppence (just under one penny today) when it first came out and featured cartoon characters such as ostrich Big Eggo and Lord Snooty and His Pals.

Collector Phil Shrimpton, 35, from Seaford in East Sussex, owns a copy of every Beano published from 1938 right up to 1988.

He says: ‘I loved reading The Beano as a child – and as I got older I was bitten by the collecting bug, picking up old issues at car boot sales and charity shops. Before I knew it, there was a need to get the full set – a hobby costing a few pence suddenly turned into a serious investment pursuit.’

Wow factor: Comics that cost  tuppence (just under one penny today) when they first came out could offer healthy returns today

Wow factor: Comics that cost tuppence (just under one penny today) when they first came out could offer healthy returns today

Phil, who is married to Liz, 29, with whom he has a seven-month-old son Alfred, says: ‘A good place to start collecting is with the comic annuals – you can buy well read Beano or Dandy annuals from the 1950s or 1960s for as little as £50.

‘But condition is key and you might have to pay £200 for an annual that is in pristine condition. The same goes for comics. If you want to buy as an investment, get the best quality you can afford.’

Despite the internet transforming the market – Phil has his own trading website phil-comics auctions – he believes bargain hunters can still unearth treasures.

He says: ‘There is no substitute for handling a comic in person – even the smell of it can influence the purchase. I always check out local charity shops and car boot sales and occasionally find a rare gem.’

Dundee-based DC Thomson was also publisher of sister comic The Dandy which was pushed through the letterbox for the last time in December 2012 as a 75th anniversary edition. At its peak in the 1950s The Dandy sold two million copies a week but when it stopped being printed, weekly sales had slumped to about 8,000.

Smart move: The first comic in 1938 and, right, the new Beano phone app
Smart move: The first comic in 1938 and, right, the new Beano phone app

Smart move: The first comic in 1938 and, right, the new Beano phone app

The top price paid for The Dandy is £20,350, for a 1937 first edition. This sale was in 2004 and featured Korky the Cat on the cover. The reason it fetched so much is that it included a free gift ‘express whistler’ inside. This metal whistle is the only one known to have survived and there are only about a dozen first issue The Dandy comics known to exist.

Phil says: ‘I was fortunate enough to purchase a first issue copy earlier this year in a private deal for £3,000. It may seem a lot of money but the rarity means its price is likely to go up. There are so few surviving early comics as they were seen as junk by parents and thrown away.’

It is not just the rib-tickling chortles from The Beano and The Dandy that appeal to collectors such as Phil – but also the great artwork of the era.

Among Phil’s favourite artists are Leo Baxendale who drew The Bash Street Kids in The Beano between 1954 and 1962.

He is also a fan of artist Ken Reid who drew the comic’s Roger the Dodger between 1953 and 1959 and also its hapless sailor strip Jonah between 1958 and 1963.

After DC Thomson started publishing The Beano and The Dandy it launched The Magic Comic in 1939. It was aimed at younger readers but due to paper rationing during the Second World War it ran for only 80 issues and was axed in 1941. Early editions can sell for £200 while the first issue might go for £1,500 if in good condition.

From 1943 to 1950 The Magic Comic name continued to survive when it shared billing with The Beano for The Beano-Magic Book titled annuals – which today in top condition fetch between £500 and £1,000. Storage is important because the poor quality paper often used means comics can yellow even if well kept.

They should be kept in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Individual comics can be kept in special plastic comic bags with acid-free backing boards. They are available from specialist comic shops.


Cover: 2,000th edition of 2000AD

Cover: 2,000th edition of 2000AD

Other classic British comics that have stood the test of time and continue to attract investor attention include Commando – which was first published in 1961 and is still going strong today.

It is Britain’s longest serving war comic and its first derring-do tale of adventure ‘Walk – or Die!’ can sell for more than £900 if in top condition.

The highest price paid for a Commando first issue is £919 in 2014, but well-thumbed copies change hands for less than £200.

Sci-fi comic 2000AD first came out in 1977 and last week celebrated issuing its 2,000th ‘prog’ with law maker Judge Dredd on one cover posing the question ‘Think you can handle it, creeps?’

A 1977 first issue of 2000AD can still be purchased for £100 but if you want one with a free gift ‘space spinner’ that was taped on to the front expect to pay more than twice this price.

Unusually, it is the second issue that is the most valuable as this saw the arrival of Judge Dredd in a comic strip for the first time. Find a second issue, pictured left, complete with free gift ‘biotronic sticker’ and you have an investment worth £300.


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