Head back in time to September 1979: Star Wars mania was in full flight across the UK as the classic George Lucas film had gripped the world’s imagination. The sequel was just months away from release and Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, was a hero. Having faced off against the fearsome Darth Vader, he sided with not a Phantom Menace but a difference Menace altogether. One who wears red and black stripes, has a peashooter and a trusty dog named Gnasher.
It can only be Dennis The Menace from the hugely popular UK comic The Beano.
Back in the 1970s, readers could join the Dennis The Menace fan club (including Gansher’s Fang Club) for the princely sum of a 30p postal order. In return, they’d get a membership card, a wallet containing club secrets – including a password – and two badges.
In the Beano of September 29, 1979, there is a letter from Luke Skywalker himself, letting the Menace know that he was enrolling himself and his then newborn son in the club – and begging Dennis for some club T-shirts.
Mark Hamill revealed that he got hooked on The Beano while filming Star Wars at Pinewood Studios back in 1976. And with its mix of funny characters including Minnie The Minx, Roger the Dodger, Little Plum and The Bash Street Kids, it’s not hard to see why. The comic in the 1970s also featured Chewbacca lookalikes The Three Bears.
The Luke Skywalker actor’s letter made it clear that he wanted to introduce American citizens to the Beano.
“It would be nice to have father-son Dennis the Menace matching T-shirts so we can fly our colours back in California and show comic-lovers back home just what they’re missing,” he wrote.
Dennis and Gnasher agreed to his request, replying with a simple: “May the Force be with you!”
The prize for any letter published was both the T-shirt and a special Dennis The Menace poster, which we hope Mark and Ethan proudly wore on the beaches of California.
With Mark Hamill back in the UK filming for the new Star Wars – The Force Awakens – we wonder if he’s still living up the adage ‘Never Be Without A Beano’.
Mark’s letter in full:
I just wanted to let you know I’ve been a Beanomaniac since 1976 when I did the first STAR WARS. I just never got around to joining the fan club. As of June 25th 1979, I have a little “Gnasher” of my own by the name of NATHAN ELIAS. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally surrender and join. Enclosed find two postal orders of 30p each—one for me—one for my son Nathan. It would be nice to have father-son Dennis the Menace matching T-shirts so we can fly our colours back in California and show comic-lovers back home just what they’re missing.
May the force be with you!
Dennis and Gnasher.
All pictures in this post use artwork that is photographed from The Beano of September 29, 1976, which is © DC Thomson & Co