The Dandy may look like just another wacky kids’ comic to American readers, but it is as deep in the British DNA as Archie is here, and last week’s announcement that publisher DC Thomson will cease print publication of the 75-year-old comic drew an array of responses from different quarters.
Charlie Brooker of The Guardian may be unique in thinking that the move from print to digital is a good thing for The Dandy; of course, he never liked the comic to begin with, and he accuses it of not keeping up with the times:
Why is The Dandy going all-digital? Because it’s a magazine for children, and today’s children don’t seem to want magazines any more than I wanted a 1920s whirligig when I was their age. Kids today have Moshi Monsters and the Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster. Traditional ink on paper looks like medieval tapestry to them.
Brooker clearly hasn’t read The Dandy in a few years, as it is not the dated fossil he portrays it as; on the contrary, it has been home to some bright new talent in the past few years, and creator Jamie Smart (who draws their most beloved legacy character, Desperate Dan), called on those creators to start their own comic:
I’d like comics to claim back the sense of anarchy. The very deranged ethic of Oink! comic, swerving dangerously all over the place, linking stories in with each other, mashing ideas together, creating whatever seems to work at the time without any fear or caution. At the same time, I’d like us to learn a lot from American models.
Smart wants to see creator-owned comics featuring well-thought-out characters in strong stories, published in American comic-book format and sold at supermarket checkouts, where, you know, children can see them. He likes the idea of crowdfunding the first issue so it can be handed out for free, and having a digital component that would support the print comic. The post got a fairly enthusiastic response from other creators in the comments section, so this may be the start of something big.
Vern and Lettuce creator Sarah McIntyre is also thinking about how to keep crazy kids’ comics going, and her first proposal has some precedent: Why not put kids’ comics on cereal boxes?
At Down the Tubes, John Freeman unpacks the news coverage and discusses why this was such a big story—and why The Guardian got the scoop.
And Dandy contributor Andy Fanton puts forward a hypothesis (expressed somewhat more forcefully by Brooker) that The Dandy failed because it changed, not because it didn’t.