Menace swaps Bash Street for South Bay

A SAND artist aiming to dig his way into the record books has carved out a huge portrait of one of the best-loved characters in the history of the British comics.

The portrait in sand of Beano hero Dennis the Menace was created on the beach near the Spa Bridge at Scarborough.

Jeff Brook-Smith, a former commercial artist, was aiming to set a world record for the biggest comic character in sand. The 75ft by 54ft impression took about four hours to make.

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Despite the ever present threat of a downpour yesterday, the event was child's play for Mr Book-Smith, who is an old hand at setting new world records. In 1988, he was part of the team which produced a special 170ft by 235ft edition of the Beano's front page in colour on Scarborough's South Bay Beach. Last year he surprised his fiance with a 120ft by 50ft birthday card.

His Dennis the Menace was barely complete before the tide had begun to wash it away but it will help raise the profile for a special session on The Beano at the Scarborough Literature Festival next month.

A former editor of the comic, Morris Heggie, and illustrators Jim Petrie and Gordon Tait will be appearing at Scarborough Library on April 18, when they will invent a new character using suggestions from the audience.

Bizarrely, Dennis the Menace is one of the few childhood characters to exist in different versions on either side of the Atlantic. In the US Dennis is always a blonde angel-faced character, rather than the hairy urchin with the equally unkempt dog familiar to British audiences.