EGAD! This week’s Dandy heralds the return of those medieval miscreants, as George vs Dragon is BACK, and this time it’s PERSONAL! Or something like that.
As you can see from the sneaky-peek above, it looks like Dragon’s gone completely CRAZY – is he really going on a reptilian rampage through the village? Pick up this week’s issue to find out!
Also in the latest Dandy, there’s yet more squirrel-based silliness in Dave the Squirrel, where we meet his friend Nuttsy:
Dave also enjoys another guest appearance this week, in Steve Beckett’s new strip ‘Ray Fears’! Hooray! Thanks, Steve!
And if all THAT wasn’t good enough, there’s also a new strip from Mr. Meecher artist Will Dawbarn, called ‘Rocky’s Horror Show’, which debuts with two wonderfully funny pages this week!
AND THERE’S MORE! With ANOTHER new strip starting this week, courtesy of that Stu Munro fellah, with Turtle Wipeout which debuts this week! It’s turtle-y awesome!
PLUS! All the regulars like Harry Hill, and a brilliant Desperate Dan by Jamie Smart which seems to poke a bit of fun at some of his (quite incorrect) critics!
Yup, this week’s issue is packed with more laughs than stuffing one hundred clowns into a phone box (don’t try that at home).
The Dandy, issue 3554, out NOW for just £1.50!
IT’S MY birthday today – pause for whoops and cheers – and as such I have received a couple of LOVELY virtual birthday cards from my talented internet chums, featuring those medieval miscreants, George vs Dragon! Here they are for your viewing pleasure – they’re the gifts that keep on giving!
NUMMY CAKE! George and Dragon call a temporary truce to enjoy CAKE, courtesy of the excellent Louis Lloyd-Judson! Yay for cake!
The truce doesn’t last long, however – it looks like Dragon finished off the cake himself, much to George’s chagrin! Picture by super Steve Beckett, one of my fellow Dandy artists!
This one technically wasn’t a birthday picture, but it was sent to me on the day before, so I’ve included it, because it’s so awesome. Besides which, as the song goes, ‘it’s my party and I’ll insert an image created for me on the day before my birthday if I want to’. Thanks to Sheldon Goodman for this awesome picture!
A big thank you to all of the above for these lovely drawings, they’re very much appreciated! And thanks also to the many kind souls who took the time to say ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook and Twitter! YOU GUYS ROCK!
In other news, don’t forget the new Dandy is on sale NOW, with yet another Dave the Squirrel strip inside, featuring the return of his nemesis Doctor Grey! Dun-dun-duuuuuuhhhhhhn!
That’s The Dandy, issue 3553, out NOW for only £1.50. Pick one up as a belated birthday gift to me. YOU WOULDN’T WANT TO RUIN MY SPECIAL DAY, WOULD YOU?
The latest magazine circulation figures came out, and revealed that The Dandy had shed almost half its readership. Sad enough, maybe, but not for some, who seized the opportunity to start laying the blame squarely at the feet of the artists and writers on the comic, claiming that we ‘couldn’t draw’ or drew like ‘bored children’, just in case we weren’t feeling depressed enough.
But that STILL wasn’t enough for some, who took to setting up an internet hate page focusing on one of the artists, in which they saw nothing wrong with hurling abusive, personal insults at the creator involved. Because clearly that is what is needed to help the British comics industry.
The angry, furious screams of disgruntled adults are drowning out the real issues here, causing tempers to fray on both sides while actually resolving nothing. The manic merry-go-round of abuse spins on, and meanwhile an industry slowly collapses in the background.
The sad truth is it that comics in this country are in trouble as a whole. Yes, The Dandy’s collapse is more pronounced than other titles, but the fact remains that all across the board, sales are dropping. Even DC Thomson’s other veteran title, The Beano, saw one-fifth of its readers vanish, hardly a cause for celebration itself.
The sad thing is that if you look beneath the name-calling and insults, you’ll find both sides of the argument are actually on the SAME side – passionate supporters of British comics. Critics may suggest that we modern-day artists don’t care, lazily bashing out page after page then thrusting out a hand for the next pay cheque. I can only speak for myself, obviously, but I know I certainly work hard on my scripts and on my strips, and consider it a great honour to work on one of the tiles I grew up reading as a kid, and getting to play in the big, fun toy-box that is the comic’s rich character history. From the other creators I’ve spoken to, it seems this feeling pervades all our attitudes.
I grew up surrounded by comics, gleefully absorbing the likes of The Beano and The Dandy, Buster and Whizzer and Chips, Whoopee! and Oink! as a child. They fired my imagination, they made me laugh, they inspired creativity in me. I was enthralled by the exemplary, precise craftsmanship of Dudley D. Watkins, and I was delighted by the looser styles seen in Oink! I loved comics, in all of their crazy, mad forms. And I still do.
I’m saddened by the strange black-and-white thinking in some quarters of fandom, where comics must be drawn a certain way to be valid. The beauty of the comics art form is that it can be anything you want it to be – beautifully intricate landscapes filled with detail, or a round-headed kid with dots for eyes. It really shouldn’t be tethered to one particular style, and it certainly shouldn’t be tethered by feelings of nostalgia.
None of us working on the comic today are attempting to violate anyone’s childhood (a curious claim I’ve heard more than once). Your childhood is intact, still quite safe where you left it, still ensconced within those covers of your back issues of Smash! When you cry that The Dandy of today is not The Dandy of your youth, you are quite correct. Your youth is behind you now, it is time to start letting us get on with trying to entertain the youth of today.
I’m not saying we’re perfect, but we’re trying to make something fantastic, and we’re working hard on doing so. Our style may be different, born out of the influences that we soaked up during OUR childhoods, but they’re still valid. Beneath our modern stylings beats the heart of British comics tradition, our aim the same as it ever was – to delight kids with crazy characters and a bit of multicolour madness.
People will say the new sales figures show we are failing. I may sound stubborn, but I truly do not believe that. I’ve had too many lovely emails, Facebook messages and fan-art pieces from young fans to think that kids aren’t enjoying the comics. And unless there’s been a huge survey to ask each and every one of the lost readers why they left, I don’t think we can suppose to know the exact reason. But I think it’d be a safe bet to guess that they didn’t all leave for the same reason.
I don’t doubt that some will have taken a dislike to the comic’s new direction, but equally I cannot believe that 7,500 is the maximum number of readers out there – in the whole of the land! – for a comic as bright, and as fun, and as exciting as the current Dandy. The previous incarnation was a polybagged magazine laden with gifts, and where comics took a backseat to the articles. Was that honestly better just because it sold more? I don’t think so.
The new Dandy takes the most popular bits of the previous incarnation, such as Jamie Smart’s brilliant Desperate Dan (which has been running for a good few years now) along with some of the other excellent artists like Wayne Thompson, Nigel Parkinson and Karl Dixon. Then it’s added great new comics, such as the Etherington Brother’s eye-poppingly lovely Yore!, Steve Beckett’s lovingly-crafted Sea Dogs and Wilbur Dawbarn’s much-loved Mr. Meecher, the Uncool Teacher. I honestly can’t see how combining what worked before with brand new material was a bad move, and not one that deserves much more support than it has so far seen. Sure, maybe not everything has worked, but the very nature of such anthology titles dictates there’ll often be something someone doesn’t like.
Instead of kicking comics when they’re down, let us try to support them. You might not like the modern take on Desperate Dan, you might not like my scrawls, but at the end of the day it is not for us to decide, but the kids, and I don’t think they’ve been given ample chance to do so. It’s true the comic had a big push when it relaunched, but these days a big push doesn’t quite mean the same thing as a big push meant for a comic in the past. No TV advertising. Very few print or news articles (and those that did appear were invariably of the ‘WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO DAN!!!! ilk, hardly giving the comic a fair chance straight off the bat). It’s all well extending the print run, but you still need to tell the kids. And it is this which proves to be the biggest obstacle facing comics today – getting themselves heard above the Xbox explosions, getting seen past the lure of Spongebob.
So, if you’ve yet to pick up the new Dandy, please do give it a go. It might not be for you, and that’s entirely fair enough – but who knows? Maybe your kids will love it. And maybe we’ll be able to meet back here in a few years’ time and still talk about British comics in the present tense, instead of wondering whatever became of them.
The Dandy is out today, for £1.50. So is The Beano – support them both if you can!
LET’S DO IT!