It was on this day in 2012 when D.C. Thomson published the final issue of The Dandy as a weekly comic. What a final issue it was! A 100 page spectacular featuring a mixture of new material and reprint, including a pull out reproduction of the first issue from 1937!
The Dandy ended on its 75th anniversary, and at the time it held the record for the UK's longest running comic! (A record only beaten now by Beano.) Sales had been falling for many years, so cancellation was inevitable. Several revamps had been attempted to slow down its final fate but nothing could delay its cancellation for long. Outside of the Beano and 2000AD, every other weekly comic from the 20th Century had long since departed by that stage so The Dandy did well to last as long as it did.
Some critics put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the artists and writers, with some criticism being needlessly nasty and aggressive. Curiously, those same critics had never blamed any creatives for the demise of other comics that had far shorter runs! For example I never saw any blame attributed to the artists and writers for Starlord only lasting for 22 weeks, or for Krazy only managing 79 issues. Of course not, because the contents were of high quality, yet somehow it was apparently the fault of those of us working on The Dandy that had sealed its fate. Doesn't add up does it?
Admittedly where anthology comics are concerned there will always be some strips that don't appeal to readers, always some work that is weaker to others, which is why the contents are often shaken up, but falling sales are often due to many other factors. Erratic distribution, competition from other media, rising prices and, in these days, kids simply not being aware that comics exist! Most of the current generation of children haven't developed the habit of going to the newsagents every week like we oldies did. These days, if kids are into comics, they're more likely to have discovered them as graphic novels (like Jamie Smart's very successful Bunny vs Monkey books) or been gifted a subscription by their parents or grandparents.
Ironically, that final issue of The Dandy received loads of publicity in the media and subsequently sold so well that it had to go to a second printing! Some buyers remarked on comic forums that if they'd known how good it was they'd have been buying it before. Well, we did tell ya but it was too late by then!
I really enjoyed contributing to The Dandy for its final two years. The strips I drew were Kid Cops and Postman Prat (both created by the Dandy staff) and The Dark Newt (a short run Batman parody I created). For the final issue I was asked to do Kid Cops, Postman Prat, plus a revival of three old characters; Julius Sneezer, The Smasher, and The Umbrella Men.
You can see my version of The Smasher at the top of this post. I was asked to do more Smasher stories for a few Dandy Annuals that followed. (Thankfully The Dandy Annual still continues to this day, and, yes, there will be The Dandy Annual 2024 out next August.)
The Umbrella Men had been a childhood favourite. A 1966 crime serial drawn by Charlie Grigg that had captivated my interest every week. The original series had been an adventure strip but I was asked to do a comedy revival. I felt the crooks must have served their time by 2012 so I showed what happened next. Here's the result...