Thursday, November 29, 2012

Proper Comics PLUS news on the Digi-Dandy!

Not a proper comic, apparently.

Reading through the news over on Google, I came across this article that appeard in The Scotsman:

Skip past the first few paragraphs, and the author (Fiona McCade) begins to talk about The Dandy, something that is currently big in the news for reasons everybody knows about. She then states that she is sad that the current generation will "never know the joy of a proper comic".

Here are the following two paragraphs:

"By "proper", I don't mean the sort of glossy magazine-type thing that the likes of the Dandy and the Beano slowly morphed into. Or those awful, teen-angst mags such as Jackie, full of fab pix of boy-bands and aadvice about intimate itching. No, I mean those glorious one - or two-colour paper comics, that cost pennies and took you to weird and wonderful places where goodies were goodies, baddies were baddies and if someone got hit, then the blow went "Thunk!" and people always screamed "Aaagh!" (or, for Look-In readers, "Aaarrrrggh!").

I honestly believe that is someone had the sense to recreate a Golden Age comic or two, they'd see some decent sales, even if it was just old fortysomethings like me buying them, trying to persuade their kids that comics are the gateway to a whole world of art and literature."

First of all, The Dandy and Beano are proper comics. After all, a comic strip is a series of illustrations with some text accompanying them that tell a story. Now tell me that this George Vs. Dragon strip doesn't tell a story.

Written and drawn by Andy Fanton.
Does this look like a magazine? Just because of the paper a comic is printed on, doesn't make it a magazine does it? In fact, The Dandy doesn't feature a single magazine style article in it, the only thing coming close is the competition page, something which comics have featured for decades.

As for sound effects, I don't know how anybody can miss those! Take a look in any comic and you'll find piles of them! Here are just a few - all of them taken from just one comic (and there's an "Aaaaaaaaagh!" in there too!)!

Let's just take another look at that second paragraph:

"I honestly believe that is someone had the sense to recreate a Golden Age comic or two, they'd see some decent sales, even if it was just old fortysomethings like me buying them, trying to persuade their kids that comics are the gateway to a whole world of art and literature."

As I've said before on this blog, comics move with the times, they need to evolve in order for kids to continue buying them. I'm not saying a Golden Age comic wouldn't work, it might, but launching a comic is a risky buisness and going by market research it looks like a full-colour comic is more appealing to kids than an old style paper.

The author also states "even if it was just old fortysomethings like me buying them", but they seem to be forgetting something critical about comics. Comics are, and always have been, aimed at children, not "fortysomethings" looking to revive their own childhoods.

In 30 years, maybe the current generation of readers will pick up a copy of the 2042 Beano and think the same as many of todays nostalgists, but comics will have evolved to suit children of the day, just as they always have.

But comics are comics, and The Beano and Dandy are proper comics.

And of course, The Dandy is just about to go through a major revamp, going completely digital. I can't reveal too much about the digi-Dandy, since it hasn't been released yet, but what I can say is that the comic will be interactive! More news as it comes readers!

PLUS! Whilst you've still got chance, why not pre-order your copy of the very last Dandy from the DC Thomson website, a bit more expensive than the weekly at £5.49, but it is 100 pages thick plus it marks the end of an era.
The image on the left is from the DC Thomson 
website but wether or not this is the actual cover of the final issue I can't say. The suprise will just have to wait until next week! 


Dave Campbell said...

Children's comics evolved from comics for adults so you're wrong to say they've always been for kids. You said before that Whizzer and Chips is your all time fave comic and that last came out in 1990. Sort of contradicts your point about comics needing to change.

George Shiers said...

Those adults comics were hardly comics though were they. It wasn't until they were actually aimed at children when they became the comics we know and love!

As for Whizzer and Chips ending, thats due to all sorts of different reasons. In short, kids had more distractions than ever then and comics look boring, so many gave up on them, with only the strongest titles surviving.

Dave said...

Fact is comics started as being for adults 'though so your claim that they've always been aimed at kids is incorrect.

Wasn't talking about Whizzer and Chips ending, was talking about it being your fave even 'though it ended before you were born. If a comic over 20 year old can appeal to today's kids why do they need to *evolve*?

Lew Stringer said...

If Whizzer and Chips had evolved it might still be around today.

Dave said...

But probably wouldn't. Oink was considered the next stage in comic *evolution* and that didn't last for long. And the Dandy changing beyond all recognition didn't seem to help it much.

Lew Stringer said...

I don't think any of us considered Oink to be an evolution at the time. We were just trying to produce funny stories, and the editors just wanted it to be a break from the usual IPC formula. Lots of people enjoyed it, if the feedback I get is any indication, and it had some truly original work by the likes of Banx, Mark Rodgers, Tony Husband, etc.

The big thing that damaged Oink's sales was that, from issue 8, WH Smith sent an internal memo to their shops saying that Oink was unsuitable for children and should not be displayed with in the children's section. Back then (1986) Smiths didn't have an adult comic section (this was before they stocked Viz) so Oink was misplaced in various areas where kids wouldn't think of looking for it. (I saw it beside a caravan magazine one week, and a nursing mag the next!)

Considering that drawback, Oink still ran for two and a half years (68 issues), which was far longer than some more traditional IPC comics of the era such as Wow (1 year), Speed (31 issues), School Fun (6 months), Thunder (22 weeks), Jet (21 weeks), Nipper (8 months).

George is correct. UK comics have evolved over the years. Even Whizzer and Chips was distinctly different compared to comics of, say, 20 years earlier. It's just a pity it stuck so rigidly to that same look and style throughout its run. Dandy and Beano evolved in subtle and not so subtle ways and, at 75 years old, they've outlived all of their old competitors.

Dave said...

21 years for Whizzer and Chips was an impressive run though and it was pretty consistent throughout that time. Another thing is that when it was cancelled it probably had a circulation that the Dandy could survive on today.

If Oink was placed on higher shelves with number 8 but continued for more than another two years it doesn't seem to have affected sales much. Readers obviously knew where to look for it so it probably faded over time just because the novelty wore off.

Lew Stringer said...

Not enough readers knew where to look for it unfortunately. Also, as less and less readers could find it, sales fell, so some shops stopped taking it.

The readers that did stick with it were pretty determined and loyal, from what I've heard. I think if it had been given a better chance by Smiths it might have lasted another few years. (And if so, the two proposed spin-off comics would have happened as well.) All in the realm of "What might have been" now of course.