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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

D is for Decimal Day ...and Dandy Day!

Forty years ago today Britain officially turned over to decimal currency, and even The Dandy, also out that very day, became part of the historic event by using the theme in the Korky the Cat strip. (Art by Charlie Grigg.)

That same issue also saw the decimal price appear on the cover for the very first time. Unfortunately it came with a sting. Previously both The Dandy and The Beano had been 4d, but now they rose to 2p (5d in "old money"). However, a few weeks later both comics gained four extra pages each (going from 16 to 20) which compensated for the price rise.

D.C. Thomson converted their comics from the old system to the new overnight, but IPC had been using both systems on their covers since 1970. This cover shows the first appearance of decimal currency on Smash! in October 1970. The IPC comics would continue to use both prices for several months, even after "D-Day".

Although February 15th 1971 was "Decimal Day" the new coinage had been gradually introduced into the UK for some time, with the 5p and 10p coins coming into circulation in 1968.

This card was issued to every home in 1971 as a conversion guide. Those of you born after 1971 may be interested in seeing it.

Kids of my generation soon adapted to the new system as kids easily do, although some older people struggled with it. Whatever the pros and cons of the new coinage were at least the new pence were not as bulky as the old pennies and ha'pennys.

Above: 4d (comprised of three old pennies and two halfpennies). The price of a Dandy before decimalization.


Forty years on, this week's issue of The Dandy (shown below) which is out tomorrow, will cost you 250 new pence. Yes, it's a pound more than usual, but for your money you get more pages (44 instead of 32, all in full colour) and a "Slime & Squidgy Eyeballs Playset".

Whilst some critics may complain that comics of the past didn't increase their prices for free gifts I'll point out that at no point does The Dandy refer to the cover mount as "free" or a gift, or anything of the sort. Plus you're getting 12 pages more than usual so they are trying to play fair. The special issue is an incentive for retailers to stock more copies and hopefully attract the attention of new readers. (You may also have noticed that the cover is taller in size this week, to literally give it an edge over other comics.) Next week's issue will also be 44 pages, with a "Knife through Head" toy.

For those of you who speculated that the extra 12 pages would be stuffed with ads or cheapo features, fear not. The issue is full of comic strips and the extra pages are taken up with a bonus length Harry Hill story (drawn by Nigel Parkinson in fine form) and the three page opening chapter for the return of old Sparky strip Thingummyblob, given a completely new makeover by Jamie Smart. Also, contributing to the new Dandy for the first time is Hunt Emerson with a puzzle page. It's all good stuff.

The Dandy No.3522 Out Wednesday Feb 16th, £2.50.


Harry Rickard said...

Looks like a fantastic issue, but I'm sad to see the return of the dreaded 'free gift', if they're bagged I can't flick through the comic (which I always do because I like to see what stories are in there...) or they're sellotaped to the front cover, meaning when I try to remove them, they tear the comic... Also dreading the Harry Hill 12 pager, I'd rather just have no Harry Hill, can't stand him or the comic strip (but Nigel draws it amazingly so that's one good thing)
What do you contribute to this week's issue? Postman Prat or Kid Cops, or both *fingers crossed*. Can't wait to read more of Yore and Boo also really looking forward to Thingummyblob and Clown Wars! :)
Is next week's £2.50 as well? :)

Lew Stringer said...

I imagine it will be £2.50 as it's also a "boom issue" as we used to call them.

I have a Postman Prat page in this week's, and next week's. After that it'll be rested for a while.

The covers are glossy, so the gift can be carefully removed without tearing it.

Harry Rickard said...

What a fantastic idea, why can't the Beano do that?
Will Kid Cops come back after Postman Prat is rested?

Lew Stringer said...

Eventually! :)

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post Lew! Living outside the UK i love the chance of learning more of Britain's relatively recent history. PLUS, though i've always considrered myself more of a 'Beano' person/reader/fan, it's interesting to see the 'new' Dandy pulling no punches :)

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Diego. I think both The Dandy and The Beano are going through a great period at present, that will be fondly remembered by its young readers for years to come. (And I'm not just saying that out of "vested interest" as a certain daft troll claims. ;-))

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