Dennis without the menace is a bad idea, says Beano illustrator
Beano illustrator Kev F Sutherland says the new, wimpy version of Dennis The Menace is a "bad idea" by the BBC.
The classic comic tearaway has been turned into a softie by politically correct TV bosses worried he might set a bad example to children.
They have banned the black-haired bully from using his trusty catapult, water pistol and pea shooter in the new cartoon series which starts on CBBC next month.
Dennis is no longer allowed to pick on geeky Walter, and his famous dog Gnasher will no longer be biting anyone.
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Writer and illustrator Mr Sutherland, who lives in Clevedon, said: "I think it's probably a bad idea but you cannot do anything about it. I think perhaps they could have targeted a slightly older audience with the cartoon.
"You can do humour and sophisticated comedy without scaring the horses.
"If you pander too much to over-sensitive parents you will end with not very funny comedy."
Mr Sutherland, who is also a stand-up comedian and caricaturist, tours the country giving comic art masterclasses in schools.
Speaking from the Edinburgh Festival – where the 47-year-old is performing his Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre – he said: "I find, particularly with the kids who do my masterclasses, when you ask them to draw a comic strip the first thing they come up with is violence – a cathartic aggressive release.
"They will draw something blowing up, for example. But kids are not stupid and if they are treated like that they will not like it.
"Tom and Jerry is a perfect example. Kids understand it is violence contained in a cartoon world. The Simpsons is the same. Homer strangles Bart numerous times but you don't find kids strangling other kids who have spiky yellow hair."
Mr Sutherland says Beano bosses have no plans to tone down the antics of one of their most popular characters, for it is his mischievousness that has made him a favourite with comic book readers for decades.
And Mr Sutherland is no stranger to coming up with violent or scary storylines himself. His latest works for the Beano include creating the Bash Street Werewolves and Bash Street Zombies. And the last time he drew Dennis The Menace was for the Beano Annual 2009, when he featured in his Roger the Dodger story-line called Reservoir Dodge – a take on the Quentin Tarantino gangster movie.
In 1999, Mr Sutherland organised Britain's first ever comic festival in Bristol, which he continued to run until 2004.
The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre will be at the Hen and Chicken in Bedminster in October.
For more information on Kev F Sutherland, visit www.comicfestival.co.uk