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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Day the World Went Dandy

It's the comic everyone's talking about and the next issue is on sale tomorrow! That's The Dandy No.3594 with 36 pages of fun every week for £1.99. (Still one of the cheapest comics around.) 

This week sees the fifth episode of The Dark Newt. Can Gnat Girl be trusted? Find out tomorrow!


Martin said...

Everyone MUST buy this!

Lew Stringer said...

I'm sorry to see Paul Gravett suggesting The Dandy hasn't moved with the times. If anything it's one comic that HAS moved with the times, bringing in fresh new styles and characters rather than getting artists to ghost the old house style.

James Spiring said...

Yeah, wasn't the whole point of the 2004, 2007 and 2010 revamps to modernise it? Anyone who says it hasn't moved with the times is looking through rose tinted glasses instead of looking at the current product.

Martin said...

Agreed. DC Thomson work hard. More of a labour of love, actually.

Ben said...

I said this on Andy's blog so I'm gonna say it on yours, if that's okay Lew:
When the Dandy relaunched- it was fun, exciting, new; the whole comic was- and continues to be so, every single issue (except Xtreme, you-know-who messed up big time!)

Anyhow, credit where credit’s due to Craig, Michelle and the whole sphere of artists/writers(including yourself, Mr Stringer) who did a amazing job in trying to make the Dandy modern.

I know it’s not up to the editioral what price the comic is, but it’s such a dramatic rise from when I discovered it in 1998 at the price of 45p.

The glossy paper makes it more expensive too, which undoubtably pushes away most kids, because you don’t have a lot of change left over from £2..

DC Thomson totally missed their main target audience which is the older generation, as a lot of them brought the Dandy in their prime.. they should’ve had a old strip pull-out similar to that of Whizzer & Chips called Our Dandy- tried pitching it, they didn’t listen.. another factor which was a kick in the teeth was the celeb based strips- I mean, we wouldn’t of had that about a decade and a half ago.. imagine Cliff Richard’s Living Doll drawn by David Sutherland, it wouldn’t have been right- maybe IF the celebrities promoted their cameos on radio or TV, it may have been successful, but alas- it wasn’t.

I wish DC Thomson would consider to start all over again- a fresh new comic, maybe called The D which comes out every month, printed on newspaper print, No.1 at 99p, no free gifts, no celebs, no competitions which have bits of plastic as prizes.

The D could have something for everyone- young and old.

But it’s a dream, I’m afraid.. I really don’t want to say goodbye to the Dandy yet, it could’ve been so much more. It could’ve had a billion copies sold around the world- there could’ve been a film or tv series.

I could’ve took part but THEY refused my ideas with something like “thanks, but no thanks”.

Believe me, I’ve tried and persuaded them that I could be good for the Dandy with the creation of the Support The Dandy Comic Facebook group.. it’s proving popular again in this hour of need.

So once again, thank you to everyone who are (and who sadly aren’t) still with us who created the Dandy- OUR Dandy, which survived through several generations and a world war. Now that’s a strong publication!

Lew Stringer said...

If publishers could afford to put out a comic for 99p they'd be doing it. The main problem is that retail giants would make so little profit on such cheap comics that it wouldn't be worth their time stocking them. For a comic to be 99p they'd have to print a massive amount and be confident to sell them.

"DC Thomson totally missed their main target audience which is the older generation"

I really don't think that it is. Kids are their main audience and always have been. There's a way to write strips that appeal to both kids AND adults and I think the Dandy has been doing that since the revamp in 2010.

Regarding free gifts, again they're an incentive for retailers as well as children. That said, The Dandy hasn't carried a free gift for months.

Lew Stringer said...

Incidentally, even at £1.99 The Dandy is still one of the cheapest comics on the stands (beaten only by The Beano at £1.50). Most comics today are £2.25 to £3.99 or more.

Anonymous said...

I'm personally less convinced that it moved with the times as much as others seem to think - it certainly changed and a lot of work was put into it bay all concerned but was the "sillyness, slapstick and mess" modern enough for today's kids or was it really all just more of the same? whatever it never engaged the kids - But no one can deny the work put into it by the creators and the publishers it shows in every issue maybe its just had its time (that's if it is going I can't see that just yet) My feelings re the audience was it was aimed too young, you can still aim for the young kids but maybe write it for all ages - I mean DCT have the Beano (for kids to 10 years old) Commando (for kids to 12 year old and older) - maybe the Dandy could have been the lynch pin between the 2 (not just another kids comic a la Beano)but aimed at 10 - 12 year olds - I have a feeling the Dandy may have been doomed through no fault of its on as technology and tastes have changed faster than at any other time in History even Marvel are suffering and they have multi million £ films to back them up - a final thought though for the artists etc employed by the Dandy ( although I don't think its gone just yet theres still time)- McScotty

SREW said...

I hear a lot of people saying the Dandy should just rewind to the 1970s or thereabouts, but surely the problem has been distribution, visibility, changing interests and opportunities for children, the lack of a successful celebrity crossover with TV, and a host of factors working together. The cheapest newsprint edition of our time is of course the web, and it seems inevitable that that's where Dandy, Beano and the rest will ultimately reside. What really needs attention I suspect is the opportunities for rethinking what a comic can be on a web page instead of a printed one. That's where titles like the Dandy could remain at the forefront of innovation and creativity...

Lew Stringer said...

McScotty, Interesting suggestion but actually The Dandy has already long been aimed at a *slightly* older reader than The Beano.

As far as I'm concerned we are writing for all ages with The Dandy. I think a lot of the humour is wittier than some of that in other kids' comics for example, and its styles more diverse. From comments I've seen online it certainly seems to appeal to children and adults. Not so many of them as there used to be admittedly, but that's due to numerous factors, not just content.

Truculent Sheep said...

The circulation doesn't seem to have fallen much from last year's nadir - why the coverage now?

It's just sad that this is the first publicity the comic has had in ages.

It would be nice if the comic makes it to its 80th birthday in any case.

Aidan Courtney said...

Bought a copy there last week. I really enjoyed it. Was pleasantly surprised by the content as it is fun. Loved the talent collected within. I would be actually be very disappointed if the Dandy and Beano were not to be part of the reading experience of kids. The more comics out there the better for all.

People do complain about the price of the comics but to be honest people will pay a lot of money for magazines filled with ads with very little content (worked in a wedding mag in Canada where I saw this in action) as well as greeting cards and not bat an eyelid that they can cost quite a pretty penny on the shelf.

Aidan Courtney said...

1) Parents need to be shown reading is reading. No matter what way you look at it comics are a medium. They are a great way of communicating and getting kids to read. In the long term comics are a cheaper option by far. And what parents sometimes forget they are rereadable. Unlike a novel it is much easier for a kid to pick up a comic a few weeks or months later and reread a strip. The paper quality makes them last longer now.

2) Recognition must go to the people who put the product together. I love childrens picture books but in Ireland they can be pricey as most come from the UK (exchange rates and stuff). Hardbacks can cost quite a bit. The paperbacks cost less but parents will spend more on a 48 page picture book but because something is a comic they expect to pay so much less for it. The same amount of work goes into making a comic as goes into making a picture book. The Gruffalo (which is a great book) is a good example of this. I can walk a parent to a shelf of a bookshop show them The Gruffalo or better Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by the excellent Mo Willems. They will not bat an eyelid and probably go for them for their younger kids.

Take them to a shelf where they've said their child won't read anything or they loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Horrible Histories, Horrid Henry, Judy Moody, Winnie the Witch, Roald Dahl or like funny stuff, for their older kid and show them Calvin and Hobbes collection which is hundreds of pages of comics and they will inevitably go 'Oh that's just pictures I want them to read real books and it's very expensive.'

It's as much about education as everything. Get them reading them they will read them for life. Maybe not all the time but they won't furl up their nose at comics when they are having kids and will show their kids reading comics is great.

I have just stopped myself from warbling any further. I have talked about this before as you can imagine. Am a lover of books and comics (also work in some capacity in bookshops) so I do love all media when getting kids to read.

I once had a mother come to me and ask me for a real book for her child. I asked her what she meant by a real book. It turns out that the kid was reading rugby books up and down as well as back to front but a teacher told him he wasn't reading 'real' books. He was ten or thereabouts. The teacher told the mother the same thing and told her to get a 'real' book for him. I was kinda shocked. He was reading books I would find a bit difficult to read. If that was what he wanted to read I told her let him read rugby books (but also showed her Rugger Boys from Cinebook if he wanted a laugh). Snobbery when it comes to getting kids to read doesn't help anyone.

Anyway I've waffled loads. Save the Dandy. When did I turn into a curmudgeon complainy fella?

Barry said...

Nice interview with Jamie Smart (one of the best artists in the business IMHO), also a link to an article he wrote for the Guardian.

I hope it doesn't close, I love the Beano but the Dandy is streets ahead of it due to this man and others such as your good self Lew. My son will be very unhappy with this, it's his favourite comic and he's French so he has all that wonderful BD to choose from (Titeuf, Lucky Luke and countless others) and it's still his favourite. It must be saying something to beat out that competition. I haven't got back to England in a few weeks so he(and I) can't wait to read The Dark Newt.

I also can't believe a comic historian can call themselves such a thing without having read the Dandy, as is obvious from his quote. I'd actually call it wildly inventive.

The newsprint v glossy paper is a good point though. I've always wondered if the difference in price of paper now is so small that it makes no difference to profit margins which paper they use. Otherwise it would be a no brainer to switch to the cheaper stock and I don't think anyone would mind. I've often wished that 2000ad would switch back, but I guess that is a nostalgia thing.

Anyway telling all my mates to buy it this week, 1.99 is nothing in this day and age, I'd say that's an absolute bargain. Less than the price a coffee in some places (haha maybe that could be a campaign, "buy a Dandy instead of your morning coffee once a week").

Cheers Lew, goodluck and I hope you're working for The Dandy for many years to come.

James Spiring said...

Truculent Sheep, the circulation will probably have fallen since then, as the Dandy has been removed from the ABC list - when the latest magazine sales figures are revealed this week, the Dandy won't be mentioned. The sales are bad enough that they don't want to admit the true figure, and the reports are using the number from six months ago.

Lew Stringer said...

That's only speculation on your part though James. Most comics have removed themselves from the ABC list. (2000 AD, Judge Dredd, Commando, etc.)

Martin said...

Travesty!! The publisher of one of the world's longest-running children's comics, The Dandy, has confirmed plans to stop printing the title.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks but I've already covered it Martin. See today's blog post. Sad news indeed.

Martin said...

I'll be passing the DC offices next week. Might leave a wreath at the door. Or visit Dan's statue and do likewise...

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