Farewell, The Dandy! Only the print edition, thankfully

Britain's longest-running comic book goes digital-only this week – the latest publication forced to adapt to changing reading habits

The Dandy, Britain's longest-running comic, will succumb to the march of technology this week when it ceases to exist in print and is reborn on the web. On Tuesday, 75 years after their first appearance, Desperate Dan and co will end an era with their last comic book appearance before settling into their new virtual home, falling to the competition for young minds and pocket money from video games and smartphones.

The first edition in 1937 sold for 2d and came with a free whistle. Popularity grew during the Second World War, despite paper rationing, when comics provided much-needed relief. By the 1950s, The Dandy was shifting nearly three million copies. But in recent years it had slumped to only 8,000.

Comics began in the UK around 1890 when illustrations above slabs of text, known as "penny dreadfuls", gradually evolved into illustrated sequential strips. But it was not until the 1930s that the industry hit on the format that was to sell millions every week.

Morris Heggie, who edited The Dandy from 1986 to 2006, said: "If you saw The Dandy as a flick-book through the years, you would see the changes in society. We wrote what children were feeling."

Anita O'Brien, curator of the Cartoon Museum in London, where a Dandy-themed exhibition runs until 24 December, said the halcyon days of comics in the 1950s came as post-war optimism returned. Favourite characters such as Desperate Dan, Bananaman, Korky the Cat and Beryl the Peril tended to highlight childish naughtiness and brushes with authority. Comics such as Eagle with the patriotic Dan Dare offered a counter to the anti-heroes of The Dandy and Beano, with inspiring role models and reworked biblical storylines.

Comics with titles such as Romeo and Romance were aimed at girls in the 1960s and 70s, with beautiful illustrations and set on quality paper. Later, Bunty and Diana dealt with bullies and how to cope with vengeful authority figures. After the success of traditional British titles, superheroes and villains came over from the US, though they weren't as popular as expected.

The rise of computer games in the 1980s exacerbated the decline, with only manga books from Japan enjoying any real success. Many titles closed or adapted as best they could. More recently, many offered online subscriptions and apps for mobiles. Those that make it online can return to financial viability, says Michael Molcher, promoter of the comic 2000AD. Perhaps best known for its character Judge Dredd, and with fans including Jonathan Ross and Simon Pegg, 2000AD has a circulation of nearly 20,000. The magazine entered the digital world in 2005 and, with the introduction of a mobile app, "reversed many years of digital decline", he added. Up to 29 staff are working on the comic's end-of-year special – which runs for three weeks and includes nine writers, 10 artists and two colourists.

Another recent success, Phoenix, launched last January. Available in Waitrose, it taps into middle-class parents' fears that children are spending too much time looking at a computer screen. Phoenix already pulls in 10,000 readers – good news for the cow-pie-eating Dan as he shifts media, as Mr Heggie reluctantly concedes. "I am sad The Dandy is leaving us as a paper. It wasn't getting into the hands of kids in supermarkets. In my day, every village shop had a copy," he says. But he adds: "A plus point is that it can now reach a wider audience."

Dandy prize

Would you like to see yourself in comic-book form, as imagined by The Dandy team just like our editor-at-large Janet Street-Porter? Just tweet to @IndyOnSunday and tell us, in 140 characters or fewer, who is your favourite comic character and why.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee