Desperate Dan was always one of The Dandy's top strips, right from his debut in issue No.1 back in 1937. How could it not be, with fantastic artwork by Dudley D. Watkins? However, editors chose not to make him the cover star until 1984! My guess is that perhaps they felt that Korky the Cat was a more appropriate opener, with its simplicity and slapstick. I loved both strips as a child but for me Korky was the ideal cover strip.
So, Dan was kept off the cover for almost 50 years. Well, not quite. Here's an example above from The Dandy No.1398 (September 7th 1968) which actually addresses the situation with Dan wanting to know why he's not the cover star. Artwork by regular Korky artist Charlie Grigg who would also become the artist on Desperate Dan in the annuals and specials after Dudley Watkins' untimely death a year later.
Dan also guest starred on the cover of The Dandy No.1663 (October 6th 1973) in the Korky the Cat strip promoting that week's free gift.
|A rare example of Dan drawing his gun.|
|Dan gets a new shirt.|
That same issue saw the beginning of all-new Desperate Dan strips running across the centre pages. Previous to this Dan had been a single page black and white strip, and reprints of Dudley Watkins' classics had been running since 1969, with occasional new ones by Charlie Grigg. But Charlie was about to retire from regular comics work so for the new colour series came a new artist on the strip, - Ken H. Harrison - and a shift towards Dan's personality becoming more childlike...
Finally, with The Dandy No.2243 (November 17th 1984) Desperate Dan was established as the new cover strip, elbowing Korky the Cat into the interior pages, although Korky gained a place by the masthead with a vignette drawn by Charlie Grigg. (Korky's first interior strips, now drawn by David Gudgeon, were obviously originally intended for the covers as a large Korky logo and house ad took up the space where the cover masthead would have been.)
Desperate Dan appeared as the cover story for over ten years, eventually being replaced by Cuddles & Dimples, Jak and various others, but he still makes an appearance on covers at times, now drawn by Jamie Smart. You can't keep a good Dan down. Besides, who's going to argue with him?