by Laura Sneddon
The Dandy, a UK comic for children, is one of the oldest comics in the world, first appearing way back in 1937. Along with its sister publication at DC Thomson, The Beano, these comics are pretty much the main reason why the entire population of Britain knows how to read a comic, even if they never make the jump later to more adult fare. Earlier this year, there was a huge amount of press attention given to The Dandy, as it emerged that poor sales were leading to the publication ending its historical run.
But fear not cow pie fans! For The Dandy, that pioneer of British comics, was simply reinventing itself for the demands of its young readership. This week The Dandy Online has launched, bringing favourite characters including Desperate Dan, Bananaman, The Numskulls, Brassneck, and an all new team of classic British superheroes, Retro Active, to its fans.
Everything has been based around portability, with a dedicated app set to launch as soon as possible. Each comic has been created with screen size in mind, and the animation – when used – mimics the reading of a comics page. Pacing is set by the reader, with each panel finishing on the text, much as a reader would find when reading a conventional comic.
Some of the comics include little minigames that advance the plot, but equally are skippable if you don’t fancy them (or are re-reading). The website contains more content including puzzles and shorter comic strips, along with videos and projects to print out and make.
Issue Zero is free to read, and while there are obviously some niggles to iron out, I’ve had a peek behind the scenes (crikey!) and can confirm that there are some very exciting things coming up! Make sure to check out Jamie Smart‘s The Numskulls in particular, a clever reinvention of the characters I knew as a child, and keep an eye on Retro Active which is particularly interesting for old school fans – and fans of female superheroes!
I’m really looking forward to seeing the app come out for my phone, and as I’ve talked about elsewhere, I think the growing audience of children reading comics in the UK will be really into this once it is up and running in full. It’s wonderful to see one of the oldest comics in the world leading the charge into a new frontier rather than fading away, keeping the spirit of The Dandy alive but bringing it to where the audience now resides. Exciting things are afoot!