Saturday, September 15, 2007
Desperate Dan classics - in colour
As mentioned here a few weeks ago, the new-format of The Dandy (Dandy Xtreme) now features a Whizzer and Chips "two-in-one" style format of a 16 page Dandy Comix inside a 20 page magazine. The comics section has come under criticism from some fans for having so many reprint pages (5 out of the 16) but for my money one of those reprints is worth the £1.99 cover price alone, and that's Desperate Dan.
The Desperate Dan strips currently running in the comic are classic pages by the original artist, Dudley Watkins, from the 1940s. The first three issues of the Dandy Comix pull-out ran the strips in their original black and white, but with the latest edition, full colour, via Photoshop, has been added to the strip. This isn't as bad an idea as some might think, as hopefully it will make the 60 year old strips more attractive to even the most modern yoof on da street. Then again maybe they'll just think it's "old fashioned" and "uncool" because there's no fart gags in it. Who knows?
It may seem odd to re-publish Desperate Dan strips from way back when at a time when Dandy Xtreme is trying to pull in new readers. The strips certainly look very dated, (in a good way, in my opinion) but they have an attitude as fresh as ever that may still appeal to kids of today.
The stories themselves show a meaner Dan than the "big kid" personality he had become in modern times. Not meaner in terms of malice, far from it; Dan was always good hearted. Yet in these early tales his clumsy slapstick has more of an edge. This week, given a temporary job as school caretaker he thinks nothing of immediately breaking up school property to burn for the boiler, then accidentally clobbers the teacher and ends up inadvertently demolishing the school, giving the kids a holiday. That's the kind of anarchic humour that made The Dandy great, and maybe the liveliness and sheer comedy genius of these Dudley Watkins classics will put a smile on the faces of 21st Century kids too. Time will tell.