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.