So the first issue of the new relaunched Dandy comic, now a weekly comic full of, you know, comics has launched. And there has been a minor media fuss. Sky News highlights the voting option of characters along with the Harry Hill strip. The company that created The Bogies strip sends out its own press release, clearly hoping to get some multi-media traction off this. The Daily Star criticizes the “new look” Desperate Dan, even though he has looked this way in Dandy Xtreme for the past three years at least. The Daily Mail gives a brief history lesson, while raising fears about the voting factor and the Evening Standard joins in. And The Sun goes straight for the celebrity obsession. In a rare change from just taking people’s stories and rewriting them without links, Digital Spy talks to Harry Hill cartoonist Nigel Parkinson and confirms that, despite assurances from the publisher that Harry Hill is writing his own strip, he actually isn’t. His writing team is, based on a concept by Harry with a few jokes thrown in along the way.
So, on with the numbercrunching:
Cost: £1.50 ($2.40)
Cost per page: 5.4 pence (8.5 cents)
References to farting: 11
References to bogies: 23
References to adoption: 1
References to nuclear war: 1
Blows to the head: 8
References to Simon Cowell keeping boy bands as slaves: 1
References to Simon Cowell having a high waistband: 24
References to a Harry Hill catchphrase he hasn’t used in five years: 1
References to the assassination of JFK: 1
References to adverts for insurance comparison sites: 5
Official celebrity appearances: 1, Harry Hill
Unofficial celebrity appearances: Jeremy Clarkson, Noel Edmonds, Simon Cowell, the bloke with the moustache off the Go Compare ads, the meerkats off the Compare The Market ads, The Queen, St George, Aled Jones, Cheryl Cole, Wayne Rooney, Scholes, Kate and Alfie off of Eastenders and Barack Obama.
Strip rundown: Harry Hill’s Real Life Adventures In TV Land Featuring Knitted Character, The Mighty Bork, 101 Ways To Use A Meerkat, Kid Cops (Lew Stringer strip there), The Bogies, Bananaman, Count Snotula, Madvertisement, Pre-Skool Prime Minister, Hoos Oov Horror, Noel Or No Noel, Shao Lin Pinks, Little Simon, Robot On The Run, Postman Prat (another Lew Stringer strip there), What’s In Cheryl’s Hair Today, George & Dragon, Pepperoni Pig, Korky The Cat and Desperate Dan…
Conclusion: This is very much a comic obsessed with celebrity. This was of course, always the way, I’d often expect the stars of TV to turn up in my comic when it was age-appropriate for me, But this new Dandy oozes celebrity from every pore, whether from adult soaps, financial adverts or even politics itself with Pre-Skool Prime Minister. It’s both an attempt to gain veracity from featuring such individuals, and to reflect the way the TV schedules have merged, with ITV especially pulling adult-aimed programmes into family schedules, and the obsession that comes with this. Very much a product of our times, and refusing to be bogged down with the title’s heritage. This approach is leagues ahead of the Dandy I remembered of my childhood that seemed to be set permanently in the 1950s. This version seems to be set about three years in the future. I was repeatedly surprised by it, although the biggest surprise was that I wasn’t expecting to be surprised at all. My bad.
What’s also intriguing is the variety of artistic styles. This is the kind of material, artistically at least, that wouldn’t look out of place in the SPX collections. Seriously off the wall cartoony approaches that make Dandy possibly the most up-to-date and diverse mainstream comic being published right now. While kids comics have diversified from anything resembling a house style for a while now, this is far beyond that. CLiNT paints itself as the future of British comics, but its obsession with superheroes and pulp fiction ground it in the past. The Dandy looks forward.
And, given the chance, has the very real opportunity to bring Britain’s kids with it.
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