When life was just Dandy

As The Dandy's print edition nears its end and the National Library of Scotland stages a display looking at its 75-year history, Pauline McLean remembers her childhood comic reading.

I can still recall the heart pounding joy of being given a huge bundle of discarded comics by my cousins.

Only a Wham bar and a few caramel toffees was required to complete the marathon comic-reading sessions of my childhood.

I would while away an hour immersed in The Dandy - as well as The Beano, the Topper and the Beezer.

Captivated by a madcap world of hungry giants, naughty school kids and even a little army of men who lived inside your head.

The Dandy had Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat.

Image caption Desperate Dan is one of The Dandy's most famous characters

The Beano had Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx but sometimes they crossed over into each others stories in a shared world of peashooters and mud pies.

So when I recently went to buy my first copy of The Dandy in decades - research for a story on a new exhibition at the National Library of Scotland - I was slightly thrown by its look.

No longer an old-fashioned paper comic, it is lost in a sea of colourful glossy magazines, with lurid headlines (in colour if not content.)

Glossy magazines

Most have plastic free gifts attached, and their price tags of £2 or £3 are a far cry from the 2p cover price of the early comics.

And that is part of The Dandy's problem.

It's had to change and adapt to increasing competition from glossy magazines with free gifts and television tie-ins.

Desperate Dan is still in there as is Beryl the Peril but there are new strips too like James Blonde - an inept secret agent - and The Bogies - the imagined adventures of err.. bogies.

Sadly the revamps do not seem to be appealing to the child audience or the nostalgic adult audience and circulation has dwindled.

In two weeks time, The Dandy will publish its last paper edition and focus on a new online version.

For adults, aware of the history of the UK's longest running children's comic - first published in 1937 - that will be a sad day.

But for its target audience - a generation well used to the internet and the interactive technology that offers, it may well prove to be a smart move.

And Desperate Dan and his cow pie-eating gang may well have the last laugh.

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