The Dandy, Britain’s longest running comic has gone forever. After ceasing to exist on paper last December, it now no longer exists in digital form either.
As a tribute to the comic which brought the world Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Bananaman, here is a timeline of The Dandy’s long history:
1937: The Dandy begins. It is originally called The Dandy Comic and is unusual for a comic of the time in using speech bubbles. Korky the Cat is on the front page. Inside, Desperate Dan, an incredibly strong man from the Wild West also features in the comic from the start. He is “desperate” in the sense that a desperado is desperate.
Another story in the first issue is Keyhole Kate, a nosey girl prone to looking through keyholes. She proves remarkably enduring, appearing until 1955 before (after a ten year break) enjoying a long return run in Sparky comic in the Sixties and Seventies. She returns to The Dandy in the Eighties and Nineties appearing on and off until the end.
1938: The Beano, The Dandy’s sister paper, which eventually features Dennis the Menace and the Bash Street Kids, begins. It continues to this day.
The first Dandy-Monster Book (later The Dandy Book or Annual) appears for the first time too.
1939-1949: Wartime (and post-war) paper and ink shortages force The Dandy and Beano to go fortnightly. The two comics come out on alternate weeks.
1940: Korky the Cat starts to speak. Initially, he was a silent character.
1945: Keyhole Kate appears on the cover for one issue only, breaking an otherwise uninterrupted 47-year run for Korky the Cat.
1944: Black Bob, a fictional Border collie, first appears in a text story. He later appears in The Weekly News and in eight books during the 1950s and 1960s.
1954: The first Desperate Dan Book appears. Technically, it was not an annual and only appeared again in 1978, 1990, 1991 and 1992.
1961: Public schoolboy, Winker Watson first appears.
1963: A Dandy-Beano joint Summer Special appears. The first Dandy Summer Special appears in 1964.
1967: Bully Beef and Chips first appears. Bully bullies Chips until 1997.
1975: Peter’s Pocket Grandpa appears in the comic lasting until the early 1980s. It has a similar premise to the early 21st century BBC children’s series Grandpa in my Pocket although also resembles the 1940s Dandy strip, Jimmie’s Pocket Grandpa.
1984: Korky the Kat is replaced on the cover by Desperate Dan after a long run. Korky continues inside, however, and appears next to the front page logo until 1998.
Dimples – a tearaway toddler – begins in The Dandy.
1980-1985: DC Thomson produces Nutty comic featuring spoof superhero Bananaman. The strip is a huge success and is turned into a memorable TV cartoon between 1983 and 1986 voiced by the performers from TV’s The Goodies (Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie). The strip, Cuddles also begins in Nutty in 1981.
1982: The first Dandy Comic Libraries appear.
1985: Bananaman’s popularity doesn’t save Nutty (although doubtless prolongs its life). The comic merges into The Dandy in 1985. The strip Bananaman continues to this day. Cuddles from Nutty becomes the lead character in a new comic, Hoot in 1985.
1986: Hoot folds and merges into The Dandy. Cuddles and Dimples – two quite similar strips – merge into one. The two toddlers later mysteriously become twin brothers and later, mysteriously again, older and younger brothers.
1984 – 1987: Bananaman has his own annual. He is the only Dandy character to ever get his own annual for four consecutive years although technically was still in Nutty for the first two of these (Nutty, unusually for the time, never has its own annual).
1993: The Beezer and Topper merges into The Dandy. Beryl the Peril which began in The Topper in 1953 appears in The Dandy on and off until the end.
1999-2000: Cuddles and Dimples briefly replace Desperate Dan on the front page. This proves unpopular with readers and Desperate Dan replaces them again after the two are found to be “too naughty”.
2004: The comic is dramatically revamped becoming glossier, bigger, more TV-orientated and more expensive. The price was raised from 70p to £1.20. This is the first of a series of big revamps which, depending on your view, prolong the life or help finish off the already ailing title. It is a challenging time for the industry: most long-running British comics (except The Beano, Dandy, 2000AD, Viz and Commando) folded in the Eighties and Nineties.
2005: Korky the Cat is dropped after 68 years in the comic. Reader polls suggest he is much less popular than he was. The strip had been undergoing various upheavals since 1999.
2007: The Dandy had another update, going fortnightly, becoming more magazine-like and being renamed Dandy Xtreme, priced at £2.50. The first issue has Bart Simpson on the cover. Regular characters no longer regularly appear on the cover. Some feel the comic has lost its identity.
2010: A counter-revolution! Of sorts. Dandy Xtreme becomes The Dandy again and goes back to being weekly. Every story from the Xtreme era with the exception of The Bogies, Desperate Dan and Bananaman is dropped. Korky returns. More celebrity parodies appear.
2012: The Dandy’s 75th birthday turns out to be a sad time. The comic ends and goes online. Bananaman, now The Dandy’s third longest running story starts appearing in The Beano and The Dandy online.
2013: The Dandy Online ends bringing to an end the Dandy Era.
Farewell. Thanks for everything. You will be missed!