Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Hard as it is to believe, a certain blogger on another site continues his defence of The DANDY's ill-fated new look (launched back in 2010), while at the same time throwing up a smokescreen to deflect criticism from those who are keen to deny any involvement in its failure.  Here is the essence of his argument, boiled down to its barest bones. 

Comics once sold in vast numbers mainly because they were the only real form of cheap entertainment for kids.  Yes, we know.  Nobody has ever disputed it.

With changing social habits, and a wider range of available options on which children can spend their pocket-money, sales have been on a steady downward spiral since the '50s and '60s.  Yes we know.  Nobody has ever disputed it.

There's a lot more, but that's the READERS' DIGEST version.  In short, the picture he's trying to paint is that these and other factors are the main reasons why The Dandy has recently suffered a devastating decline in circulation, not helped by the fact that they no longer regularly give toys away as cover-mounted attractions.

Although paying lip service to the notion that "content and art styles might play a part in a comic's fate", his use of the word "might" reveals he regards it as highly unlikely.  He then dismisses the importance of such a possibility by claiming "but it's by no means the main reason."  It seems a tad dogmatic to suggest that, in the entire history of the medium, no comics have ever expired solely on the grounds that readers didn't like them.
The implication is clear;  The Dandy's failure is mainly attributable to other factors and has absolutely nothing to do with the content - nor is it related to the 'unfounded, vicious criticism' of some of the artists, who are all brilliant and should be applauded for their valiant attempts to restore the comic to its former glory.

So - where do I start?

The toys issue is more complex than it may at first appear.  As someone who has bought an odd issue of DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES for a wind-up DALEK, I can see how I've contributed to an increase in sales that week.  However, as someone who has also steadfastly refused to buy The BEANO and DANDY whenever they hike up the price to cover some toy I don't want, I have far more often been deterred from making a purchase than I've ever been seduced into one.  What's more (because I don't want to have gaps in a run of comics), I no longer buy the regular-priced, no toy issues that I most likely would purchase in normal circumstances.  I doubt that I'm the only one.

I've read on other forums of people claiming their kids won't buy a comic if they don't like the toy that week, so how can we ever know, with absolute certainty, whether a toy has been an attraction or not?  It's seems far too nebulous to make any definite claims in the case of The Dandy.  Especially as, even when The Beano offers no toys, it outsells its sister publication by a wide margin.

Consider also this:  when The Dandy was relaunched as a less-expensive, no toy, all-comics weekly (as opposed to a dearer, toy every issue, magazine-type fortnightly publication), it's circulation at first increased.  Those involved (including that afore-mentioned blogger) hailed it a success, and sat back to bathe in the reflected glory.

So why did it fail to maintain its momentum?

Let's look at, what seems to me, the obvious reasons.

The Beano and Dandy are both all-comics content, both printed on the same paper, and both priced at £1.50.  Like with like is fair comparison.  Although The Beano has also suffered a drop in sales over the years (as has every publication), it continues to sell around five times more than The Dandy.

So is it reasonable to ignore the likelihood that, in The Dandy's specific case, content is not only an extremely important factor, but most likely the primary one?  Even if 'gifts' do occasionally lead to increased sales, then that's a bonus.  If a comic's content is right, it will surely maintain its readership on its own merits.  That's what the publishers of all comics and magazines should be focusing on.
The aforesaid blogger reports that certain Dandy artists have been subjected to 'vicious, bitter, vindictive, unfounded personal attacks'. The worst I know of is "Such and such can't draw!" or "Wotsisname draws like a 6-year old".  Personal? Compare that to the remarks levelled at myself for daring to comment on The Dandy's sad decline.  "Cancer's too good for you." and "You've only ever f***** your mum."  The blogger failed to condemn such comments, although I know for a fact that he read them.  And for him to dismiss all critics as "resentful failed comickers with an axe to grind" or as "ever-vindictive people on the periphery of comics" in a churlish, small-minded attempt to diminish their point of view almost defies belief.

He seems to be suggesting that any small-press artists, illustrators outside of comics, or those who do it merely as a pasttime - many of whom have never even considered working in the field professionally - are all worthless, non-entities whose opinions should  therefore be dismissed.  A bit harsh - a bit elitist in fact.

The number of so-called 'professionals' (in all walks of life) who are far from being the finest exponents of their craft is legion.  However, as Lee James Turnock pointed out, although Jordan could well claim to be a published author, it doesn't necessarily mean that her books aren't sh*te.

Desperate Dan ironically describes the current
incarnation of one of Britain's once favourite
comic periodicals

Seems like sour grapes to me, arising from the fact that The Dandy's failed relaunch has left those responsible with egg all over their faces.  In the end, it doesn't even matter why it failed;  the fact is, it was trumpeted as a bold, new move - and a success - by those whose judgement has been demonstrated to be seriously lacking.

While his post may explain the overall general decline in just about everything over the last 40-odd years (which no one, to my knowledge, has ever disputed), it fails to address the pertinent reasons as to why The Dandy in particular has suffered in so disproportionate a fashion in such a short time in relation to other titles. Remember, it's lost half its audience in 9 or 10 months.

In short, it's nothing more than a thinly-disguised attempt to lay the blame for The Dandy's decline on a much wider doorstep - and thus absolve those directly responsible for its sad humiliation.


Mr Straightman said...

Also, I've just noticed that the bronze Dan statue in Dundee is based on the proper Dan - as it should be. The decision to revamp the character just makes a bollocks of history. It's like digitally remastering old episodes of the Goodies to get rid of the beards, flares and sideburns and make it more "modern".

Kid said...

In response to this post, a certain person makes the following comments:

"Wow, that didn't take long! I see a certain person has already posted a long rant about this post on his blog. Again, claiming I said falling sales have "nothing to do with the content" despite me clearly stating here that "Naturally content does play a part in the popularity of a comic" and "Obviously some kids and their parents will drop a comic completely if they dislike the strips".

Ya gotta laugh."

Yet another example of this individual at his disingenuous best. Note how he completely distorts the facts, the better to demolish the straw man he has craftily erected.

While he indeed refers to the factors mentioned, he does so only in a general sense, and in such a way as to downplay their significance.

He conveniently ignores that he has discounted, on other sites, their relevance to The Dandy's particular case, and that it was to The Dandy I was specifically referring.

You gotta puke.

Nik Holmes said...

Out of interest, have you picked up/looked through this years Dandy annual?

Kid said...

Haven't seen it yet, but I'll doubtless buy it. I bought last years. Any good?

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