Thursday, July 26, 2007
'The Dandy' is dead. Long live 'The Dandy Xtreme'.
A double page ad (drawn by Nigel Parkinson) in today's Dandy answers what many have been asking. Is The Dandy to end? As it turns out, yes... and no.
The Dandy, record holder of the world's longest running comic, "ends" with the issue on sale now... but is immediately regenerated next week, like Doctor Who, into a new form. From next Thursday (2nd August) the publication has a title change to Dandy Xtreme, switches from weekly to fortnightly, ups its price from £1.30 to £1.99 and ventures further into the magazine field, rather than the traditional comic format. (Although comic strip favourites such as Cuddles and Dimples will remain - with Desperate Dan reprinting classic Dudley Watkins strips.) The numbering will continue from the weekly, so the first Dandy Xtreme is in reality issue No.3426.
These changes will no doubt have older readers shaking their heads in disbelief, and the great sorrow is that it's happened in the comic (sorry, magazine's) 70th anniversary year. However, The Dandy has always been first and foremost a children's publication and the facts are that 21st Century kids in the UK seem to prefer magazines to comics. (Why this is the case, when countries like Japan can still have a thriving comics industry, is a debate for another day perhaps.)
For us old timers, "our" Dandy has been gone for some time. "Our" Dandy was the Dandy of our childhood. For me, it was the variety-packed 16 pager of the mid-sixties, full of strips by Dudley Watkins, Jack Glass, Bill Holroyd, Eric Roberts and others. For fans now in their early thirties "their" Dandy would have been the Dandy of the mid-eighties, when it first went glossy. Nothing can take away "our" Dandy. History cannot be changed. Dandy Xtreme is for the children of today.
We might not like an old favourite comic changing with the times but it's a necessity for it to survive. It'll be interesting to see how it fares. In this day and age publishing is equally about pleasing the retail giants as it is accommodating reader's tastes. It can be quite a juggling act. Hopefully the new format and price will encourage more retailers to stock it. (Distribution of the weekly has been quite poor recently. One local newsagent insisted "The Dandy? That finished years ago!")
One thing that springs to mind though is that if The Dandy was lagging behind The Beano in sales, will Dandy Xtreme also suffer from being too similar to BeanoMax? And will Dandy Xtreme's new promise to contain "Totally Gross" humour make it a copy of Toxic? Time will tell.
Farewell to The Dandy. Welcome to The Dandy Xtreme.