The Dandy No. 3508
There’s been a big hoo-ha over the last few days over the rejuvenation of The Dandy with issue no. 3508. For some of the best coverage so far do go and have a root around two excellent blogs by contributors Lew Stringer and Nigel Parkinson.
Parkinson in particular appears to have been hugely involved with the concept of the revamp, being the one to get Harry Hill onboard. Some see it as a last chance saloon type moment, others as just another relaunch. But whatever it is, it’s definitely an important change. Gone is the magazine style format of Dandy Extreme and in it’s place comes a very familiar all comics style kid’s comic. There’s a couple of pages of text, but after those, it’s cover to cover comics. Very nice to see it back as it should be.
One thing that does rankle slightly when looking through it is that a fair proportion of the strips in this new Dandy don’t have creator credits on them. It’s such a small thing, but should have been there. (For more details on exactly who did what – see this Down The Tubes article)
(Nigel Parkinson and Harry Hill present “Harry Hill’s Real-Life Adventures In TV Land” from The Dandy 3508)
The actual comic itself is a strange hybrid thing; the much trumpeted Harry Hill celebrity strip is both fresh and new whilst also an obvious nod to celeb comics of the past. And this hybrid feel continues throughout the comic – with radically new takes on old favourites such as Bananaman and Korky The Cat (blink and you’d miss it kids – three panels) alongside stylistically simple but very modern strips and a number of strips that would have looked very much at home in the Dandy, whether it’s 2010 or 1970.
But that’s not a problem in the slightest, this lovely mix of old style and cutting edge new may well appeal to today’s media savvy children, whose knowledge of the last 50 years of pop culture is far greater than ours ever was – this New Dandy may well fit perfectly into that.
(Postman Prat, written by The Dandy editorial team and drawn by Lew Stringer – a very nice, old fashioned strip that would sit well in The Dandy across many decades)
So the old style strips by (relative) veterans Nigel Parkinson (Harry Hill, Phantom Pharter, Little Simon) and Lew Stringer (Postman Prat, Kid Cops) are very nice, although I have to admit I’m no great fan of Harry Hill so Parkinson and Hill’s lead off strip left me slightly cold – attractive though it may be. Stringer’s two strips are, as you might expect, lovely examples of an old school, very funny, classically daft concept strip.
But on a far simpler level The New Dandy is just a lot of fun, and has an awful lot of very good, very fresh feeling, very funny kid’s comics. Sure, not every strip was too my taste, and I’m pretty convinced the one gag mini strips are going to get very irritating very quickly, but overall, it’s a very nice start. But as always there’s got to be a couple of strips that really stood out as something great….as hoping it would be – fun and very fresh. There are some good strips, a couple that just didn’t really do anything for me and a fair few that I thought were really, really great …… including these two:
(Bananaman by Wayne Thompson just looks insane, but it’s so manic and fun. Likewise, his Shao Lin Punks is fantastically minimalist but managed to make me smile – potentially a great one pager.)
(Andy Fanton‘s George vs Dragon, like Wayne Thompson’s stuff, is lightweight, simply drawn, but had a cracking, silly, funny punchline and great setup.)
Special mention has to go to Jamie Smart. His Desperate Dan has already been getting a terrible slagging in The Daily Star – a sure sign he’s doing something right. Of course, should the journalist involved actually bothered to research their story they’d have found that this “new” Desperate Dan is nothing of the sort and has been appearing in The Dandy for a few years now. But no matter, I still think it’s brilliant, stylistically marvellous and very fresh looking.
But even better than Desperate Dan is Smart’s new strip: Pre-Skool Prime Minister, where our glorious country finds itself under the control of a baby. Ian Duncan Smith might not like it, but I thought it was quite gloriously silly and wonderfully fun:
(Jaime Smart’s brilliant 2 pager Pre-Skool Prime Minister. The best thing in this Dandy revamp.)
All in all, this new Dandy revamp seems to be doing pretty much everything right. Theres a lot of very good strips n this first, all-new issue and the couple that didn’t do it for me might prove to be your personal favourites for all I know.
It’s a bold and timely move, bringing back the old Dandy, full of comic goodness. It may have had a new coat of paint and brought in some new talent. But make no bones about it, this is the sort of comic we used to love as kids – funny, silly, even slightly edgy and challenging the world our children see about them. Hopefully it will find a new readership amongst a new generation of children. It’s certainly going about it the right way.
The Dandy is out, every Wednesday, in a local newsagent near you.