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Desperate Dandy hits hard times

August 14, 2012 in General, News

The future of The Dandy as a weekly printed comic appears to be in jeopardy. Its publisher says that no decision has been made, but understands that the comic is likely to be coming to an end in September.

The Dandy cover

The Dandy © DC Thomson

A Dandy cartoonist told us: “They emailed me last week saying that in all likelihood it would be ending in September and they were sad about it.

“For the last issue they are going to revive a whole load of old characters.”

First published by DC Thomson in December 1937, the comic is celebrating its 75th birthday this year.

Comics fans and creators have been rallying around online, and a #SaveTheDandy campaign is already under way on Twitter. Reaction to the news has been posted online by the Dandy cartoonists Jamie Smart and Phil Corbett. Many are passing around a link to a blog post written some months ago on praise of The Dandy, which reminds us that it is currently a vibrant and creative comic.

The Guardian media site reported yesterday that the comic is now selling 8,000 copies a week, down from two million in its heyday. Like all print media companies in the current climate, DC Thomson has been having problems.

Updated: 2pm, August 14

In the modern fashion there has been a lot of reaction online, notably with the #SaveTheDandy campaign. Of course, the single best way to do this is by buying the product but, as this excellent piece of work at Down the Tubes (derived from the Audited Bureau of Circulation figures) shows, the decline of print comic sales is a widespread and longstanding phenomenon.

You can see the comics historian Paul Gravett interviewed alongside cartoonist Gary Northfield at Sky News here.

Reaction from cartoonists and readers has varied from the sad to the conflicted. The latter not least about the business of the print industry which lies at the heart of this sad story.

Updated: 2pm 16th August. Publishers DC Thomson have confirmed The Dandy will cease print publication from December 2012. You can read their statement released using twitter, here.

The Round-up

August 3, 2012 in General, Links, News

Drawn points us to a public reply by cartoonist and illustrator Alec Longstreth, in response to a request for spec work. It’s always worth remembering that cartoonists should be paid for their endeavours, so be sure to give it a read.

Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has won his claim against the country’s government over the seizure of 66 of his books and a collage in 2010. Read more about the case here.

British comics enthusiast Phil Shrimpton – who has more than 4,500 copies of The Beano and Dandy – has started trading his collection online. Meanwhile, member Tim Harries gets nostalgic about the Beano on his blog.

As always, please feel free to comment below – and also to point us towards any stories we might have missed.

The Round-up

March 8, 2012 in General, Links

Franklin McMahon, an American visual journalist who began as a cartoonist and went on to depict major events as detailed line drawings for magazines, has died aged 90. The New York Times looks at his life and workSheldon Moldoff, uncredited ghost artist on Batman in the 1950s and 1960s, has also passed away.

Continuing a series of blog posts in which New Yorker cartoonists look back at their first contributions to the magazine, Michael Maslin has provided his recollections. Maslin also considers how his work has changed since. Read it here.

In the UK, Christian Adams of The Telegraph explains how to read a cartoon and Martin Rowson of The Guardian has a video accompanying his new adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

And finally, Steven Gerrard, Rebecca Adlington and Tom Daley are among the sports stars making an appearance in a special Sport Relief edition of BeanoMAX.

The Round-up

January 27, 2012 in Links

Christian Adams, political cartoonist for The Telegraph, has begun blogging on a daily basis, providing a fascinating insight into the process behind his latest cartoons and offering up preliminary sketches and captions that didn’t quite make it. The blog can be found here, and is sure to be worthy of repeat viewings.

Sticking with the Telegraph, Matt Pritchett – long-time pocket cartoonist for the paper – has been interviewed by The Oxford Student.

Cartoon Movement has news of two cartooning exhibitions. Justice and Security: There is More Than One Truth opened at the London School of Economics on 23rd January, while Movement member Zunar has a solo exhibition – titled To Fight Through Cartoons – at London’s Free Word Centre from 15th February. More details can be found here.

Beano icon Dennis The Menace is to appear on the London stage in his very own musical, which runs at the Southbank Centre for three days next month.

In case this round-up seems too upbeat, fear not – a report by The Herb Block Foundation has claimed that the golden age of editorial cartooning is dead. The Daily Cartoonist highlights a few quotes and also provides a link to the full report, which features essays by 11 leading cartoonists.

Round-up: What the Bloghorn saw

November 25, 2011 in Links

The prolific cartoonist David Langdon, whose long career included work for The New Yorker, Punch and The Spectator,  has died at the age of 97. Among his achievements, Langdon claimed to have originated the ‘open mouth’ expression now used by almost every gag cartoonist to clarify who is speaking in their compositions. See The Guardian for an extensive obituary, while the Bucks Free Press has more here.

Gerald Scarfe‘s savage and iconic depictions of Margaret Thatcher have led to a newly discovered species of pterosaur being named after the caricaturist. The Portsmouth News explains all here.

DC Thomson has announced a digital subscription service for its weekly comics, The Dandy and The Beano, allowing readers to get their fix via iPad or iPhone. The Courier has more details here.

Finally, while writing about the recent sale of a Roy Lichtenstein painting, questions the value – or lack of it – that is placed on original comic art, compared with the ‘fine art’ it inspires.

The Dandy relaunches (again)

October 20, 2010 in News

The Dandy, Britain’s longest running comic, published by DC Thomson, is due to relaunch next week with a new look.

Not much has been made public about the makeover, but the current unpopular fortnightly magazine-style incarnation,  Dandy Xtreme, is expected to be ditched in favour of a return to a weekly comic almost entirely composed of cartoons and strips.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that there’ll be new strips by Beano and Viz cartoonist Lew Stringer (but not, apparently, called ‘Blurp’), newcomer Andy Fenton and the PCO’s very own Alexander Matthews, alongside current favourites Cuddles and Dimples by Nigel Parkinson and Desperate Dan by Jamie Smart, who also drew the new logo, above.

The Dandy‘s website,, is also expected to be revamped, and you can follow developments on its Twitter stream as well. The new-look Dandy goes on sale on 27th October at the new price of £1.50.

The Beano Club goes online

September 8, 2010 in News

The long running fan club for the Beano comic, the Beano Club, is to close prior to being relaunched as a new website in the next few months. The Dennis the Menace Fan Club, which included membership to Gnasher’s Fang Club was started by DC Thomson in 1976  and featured badges, birthday cards, newsletters and top-secret passwords (which Bloghorn wouldn’t dream of revealing here). The Club, which at it’s peak boasted 1.25 million members became the Beano Club in 1998. It’s not clear at the moment whether the new website will be a subscription site or free to members.

Thanks to PCO Member Rob Murray for spotting this story.

Artist of the Month – Steve Bright

August 21, 2009 in Events

The PCO Artist of the month for August is Steve Bright and Bloghorn asked him which other cartoonists’ work he admired.

There are far too many names to list here, and yet I’m neither a follower nor expert in any other cartoonist’s work. I have a few books by other cartoonists I enjoy, but no definitive collection.

There are also many little known names whose work almost certainly influenced a large percentage to pick up a pencil and begin drawing cartoons. They seldom get a mention beyond the forums populated by UK comics geeks, so I’ll mention a few here.

Cartoon greats such as David Sutherland, Robert Nixon, Ron Spencer, Bob McGrath, Ken Harrison, John K. Geering, Jim Petrie, Reg Parlett and Tom Paterson may reside deeper in the shadows than the more famous comic greats such as Ken Reid, Leo Baxendale and Dudley Watkins, but they have had every bit as profound an influence on me as any other cartoonist.

Many cartoonists cut their cartoon teeth (like me) on the likes of the Beano, Dandy and Whizzer & Chips. They may not know the names, but they certainly were influenced by them.

Did Steve have any tips for wannabe cartoonists?

These days, I would not advise anyone to take up drawing cartoons as a full-time career, no matter how talented they were. I actually feel it would be irresponsible and my conscience won’t allow me to do it. Very different to how I viewed it less than 20 years ago.

However, assuming we’re talking about wannabes who are already beyond the Dissuasion Stage, and are focussed, determined and single-bloody-minded enough to have a go regardless, the only really sound advice I think I could give them would be … to copy!

Studying other cartoonists is important, but only by copying (or even tracing) their work will you begin to appreciate the nuances of how they draw, and it will teach you more than any verbal advice can ever come close to. Naturally, I’m not suggesting that anything you copy can be claimed (or sold) as your own, but as a learning device, there is no better in my opinion.

Much of the early part of my career was built on an ability to “ghost” the work of other artists, and that skill was developed by copying the characters as closely as I could, even (and especially) down to the thickness of line they used, and emulating those characteristics as a style, and not just as the odd figure or two.

My own style is a hybrid of many others, and I can vary it significantly from project to project. Certainly, there are many cartoonists who have managed to earn a good living with one particular style throughout their career, but I do think they are the exception.

Being adaptable opens many more doors, some more inspiring than others, but when there are bills to be paid, there’s little room for tying your integrity to one style of drawing. Sometimes a writing ability can be a real asset too.

Leo Baxendale on the Bash Street Kids

July 1, 2009 in Comment

In an article for the Times, legendary Beano cartoonist Leo Baxendale recalls how in the space of seven months he created the classic strips Little Plum, Minnie the Minx and, most famously, the Bash Street Kids – and that a lot of the inspiration for the strips came from a regular game of office keepie-uppie.

A larger version of the artwork and article can be seen here – thanks to the Forbidden Planet International blog. Previous coverage of the Beano in Bloghorn can be found here.

by Royston

Shrewsbury 2009 – it's all about action

April 28, 2009 in Events


Here’s Hunt Emerson, underground comics star turned Beano artist, demonstrating comic poses during a workshop held at the appropriately named Infinity and Beyond comic shop in Shrewsbury.

Remember, although the festival is over you can still see the exhibitions, as they run for several weeks. Check the website for details.