Desperate Dandy: comic’s celebrity relaunch “backfired”

Desperate Dan still walks tall in Dundee but sales of the Dandy comic have slumped

A REVAMP of the Dandy has backfired and sales of the world-famous comic are at an all-time low, it emerged today (sun).

Scots publishers DC Thomson tried to reverse the comic’s sales decline a year ago by introducing celebrity-based strips and even a Big Brother-style voting system.

But the firm has admitted it is “disappointed” after half the readership abandoned the title and sales plunged to just 7,448.

A spokesman even referred to the Dandy as a “blot” on an otherwise successful period.

Some fans of the comic fear it is only a matter of time before the Dandy disappears altogether, although DC Thomson today insisted they remained committed to the title.

The Dandy was first published, in Dundee, in 1937 and delighted generations of youngsters with characters such as Desperate Dan.

But sales sharply declined in the post war years from their peak of more than 1m.

Household names such as Harry Hill, Cheryl Cole, Simon Cowell and Jeremy Clarkson were drafted in to try to appeal to a new generation of readers.

And fans of the comic were even given the chance to vote to evict their least favourite character from Dandy.

A spokesman for DC Thomson today admitted: “The figures for The Dandy are disappointing and there is no getting away from that.

“The Dandy is the one blot on an otherwise quite successful period for us.

“We will be taking steps to address that, but we are not looking at radical surgery.”

John Freeman, a former editor of the monthly Doctor Who Magazine, claimed The Dandy was facing possible closure.

He said: “Sales are nowhere near where they were even five years ago.

“It would become difficult for them to print the comic if sales dropped below 3,000.”

Mr Freeman added: “I know that comic titles with circulations higher than that have been dispatched.”

The decision to stop attaching free gifts to the front cover could have accelerated the declined of The Dandy, said Mr Freeman.

“Maybe kids don’t want a comic that’s just a comic. Sad news if that’s true,” he said.

Former comic strip artist Kid Robson said the decision to introduce celebrity-based characters is the central reason for the rapid decline of The Dandy.

He said: “The Dandy, in particular, pursues this position to the extent that the fix has resulted in it being far more broken than was the case previously.

“The evidence suggests that the treatment is killing the patient.”

Recent editions have featured ITV presenters Ant & Dec challenging BBC rivals Dick and Dom to a bare-knuckle boxing match.

Harry Hill’s Real-Life Adventures in TV Land and a paradody of rapper Tinie Tempah, Tiny’s Temper, have also appeared.

Experts have suggested that DC Thomson may merge The Dandy with The Beano, another legendary title but one whose sales are declining more slowly and which still sells 40,000 copies.

Several high-profile titles in the same market are continuing to sell well.

The weekly Doctor Who Adventures magazine has maintained its 50,000 sales over the past year. And the TV spin-off, Simpsons Comics, sold 65,000.

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    • Actually, although professionally known primarily as a comic strip lettering artist, some comic strips of mine appeared in a newspaper many years back – The E.K. KID, and PERCY PROON, E.K.’s Number One Loon. Also I had a full page comic strip in the BOOTS NEWS. (If it was good enough for DUDLEY D. WATKINS it’s good enough for me.) All paid work. I think that qualifies me as a “forner comic strip artist”.

      Further, my artwork used to appear in IPC monthly comic libraries, annuals, Summer specials, etc. To say nothing of recreating and restoring classic pages of JACK KIRBY art for American giant, MARVEL. I also drew comic strips for advertising projects back in the early or mid-’90s or so.

      So, although I may not be associated as a cartoonist with any specific strip at a nationwide level, I do happen to qualify as a comic strip artist because I’ve been involved with many a comic strip (in a drawing capacity) in my time.

    • Not quite true, actually. My strips E.K. Kid and Percy Proon were printed in a local newspaper many years back. Also, I had a full-page strip in the Boots News back in the ’70s. (If it’s good enough for Dudley D. Watkins, it’s good enough for me.) All paid work, I hasten to add, so therefore professional.

      Also, I’ve done comic strips for advertising, my artwork appeared in IPC comic libraries, annuals and summer specials, and I recreated and restored pages of Jack Kirby classic artwork for US giant Marvel. (Now part of Disney.)

      So, although I was mainly known professionally as a comic strip lettering artist, I certainly qualify as a “former comic strip artist” as well, although not associated on a nationwide level with any specific strip.

  1. The problem with the Dandy is the celebrities. They take over the much-loved comic and is the only flaw in the ‘new’ Dandy. I love the Dandy and to hear sales are so low saddens me, I want my kids to read the comic, to enjoy reading the funny stories and looking at the brilliant pictures. Not to tell them I remember when the Dandy was around.

    As I said the reason I believe sales have decreased rapidly is because of the celebrity content on every other page. We created a Facebook Page for people to join in aid of trying to stop celebrities appearing in the comic, if you feel you agree, please like the page and help the comic:

    Also, Stu Munro, the artist of Tiny’s Temper simply used a play on the rapper’s stage name. The story itself has nothing to do with rapping or anything of the sort.

  2. Actually, I never specifically referred to the celebrity factor as being anything to do with The Dandy’s decline. (Although I’m not denying it might be part of the problem.) I was referring to various other factors.

  3. Is there anywhere in the Liverpool area where I can buy the Dandy. I was born one year after the Dandy was launched…. and grew up with it. I wouls LOVE to be able to buy it.

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