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Cream over Britain

Increasingly Desperate Dan

The seven - well, three - ages of Dan
The Dandy - is that still going? Maybe not.Gulp! Looks like The Dandy could be brandishing that doom-laden “EXCITING NEWS FOR READERS INSIDE!” banner across its front cover quite soon. John Freeman’s excellent Down The Tubes has the story, but, pals, what’s our response?

With the paper’s 75th birthday due in December, this year’s celebratory annual already out, plus a retrospective gift book written by former ‘Ed’ Morris Heggie, a commemorative set of Royal Mail stamps and a TV documentary in the works, perhaps it’s best to bail out when you’re at the top.

But we’d still be terribly sad to see it go. TVC readers might expect us to be anti-modern day Dandy, however we’re anything but. Under editor Craig Graham (who took over the title in 2006) the publication – sure – did rebadge as ‘Dandy Xtreme’, but really picked up the pace with a further Harry Hill-led revamp in 2010, which brought in creator-owned strips (who’d have thought?), lots of new cutting-edge cartoonists, a ban on reprints (now lifted) and radical redesigns for flagship characters like Desperate Dan and Bananaman. In short, an all-out renaissance.

But, with sales dropping to somewhere in the region of 7,000 and none of the above doing anything to arrest that, what to do? DC Thomson have made noises that the comic’s key characters will continue online, but… who cares about online?

Desperate Dan Pie-Eaters Club members – turn in your wallet here.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pete Prodge

    August 15, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Having seen the recent Dandy, it’s clearly a breath of fresh air compared to how I knew it in the 1980s as a trapped-in-amber museum piece. Gone are the 1950s references – the mortar-boarded black-gowned slipper-wielding teachers and citations of ‘bully beef’ are eschewed in favour of retina-pleasing colour and nonchalently-stroked characters. The humour is closer to Viz and chaos happily reigns.

    However, with the circulation known to be just 8,000 from end of 2011, it’s like an alchemist’s task in getting today’s generation to be interested in a brand that’s not really out there on TV or video games.

    I guess spreading the word through the web via some kind of viral app could work. Having a Bananaman strip all drawn up, but every speech bubble empty, allowing kids to type in their own words and show off their humour to their friends. I’d have loved to have done that with some of my Whizzer and Chips favourites. (Always an IPC fan back in the day – DC Thomson being analogious to Disney/Swap Shop/Enid Blyton; IPC being Warner Bros/Tiswas/Sue Townsend)

    That may sound like a daft idea, but the past decade has seen the Dandy taking on the Poochie (cf Itchy and Scratchy) mantle far too many times, and I think it just needs to showcase its original content to kids who don’t even know it exists.

    I don’t think the solution is purely digital. How many kids honestly own an iPad? Some of the ‘internet solutions’ for Dandy’s woes I’ve seen cited in blog comments border on farcical, as kids can’t really buy digital content*. Glad that Dandy realised it’s a comic, there was no way it could have taken on the celeb-obsessed pop glossies, nor should it have done. A notion as ridiculous as the very name of ‘Dandy Xtreme’!

    * = Pop music’s gone very grown-up since the music industry knows that the download age means customers have to have credit cards to buy their fare, hence the likes of Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and Jessie J with all their contrived controversy. You wouldn’t want to be Pete Waterman in this climate, there’s no way squeaky clean S Club 7 or Steps would generate a significent sale.

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