The Dandy: final edition goes on sale

media captionIts publishers say The Dandy will live on in cyberspace, and as an app

The last-ever printed edition of one of the world's longest-running comics has gone on sale.

The Dandy, which features characters such as Desperate Dan and Korky the Kat, was first published 75 years ago.

But its circulation has plummeted to about 8,000 copies a week in recent years, from a peak of two million in the 1950s.

Publisher DC Thomson has now launched the comic online, and as a smartphone and tablet app.

The final print edition coincides with the title's 75th anniversary, and will include a pullout reprint of the very first edition of the comic from 4 December 1937.

'Stocking filler'

DC Thomson confirmed at the weekend that Sir Paul McCartney would appear alongside Desperate Dan - fulfilling a lifetime ambition of the former Beatle, who said in 1963 it was his dream to appear in the comic.

The edition is expected to become a collector's item, with several newsagents saying they have been inundated with pre-orders from nostalgic fans.

Des Barr, who runs Sinclair Barr Newsagents in Paisley, believes the final Dandy will be the biggest single sale of any publication since he opened his shop more than 20 years ago.

He said: "I have never known a demand for a comic like it ever before and by the time Tuesday comes around I reckon I will have about 1,000 orders.

"People are buying the comic to send to relatives and friends all over the world and many people are saying they will use the historic last issue as a stocking filler at Christmas.

media captionSchool children give their verdict on Dandy

"I think there is a huge nostalgia thing going on here. Since it was first published in 1937, millions of people will have grown up reading The Dandy. It will have been part of their childhood."

Dundee-based DC Thomson announced in August that the weekly children's comic would make the transition into cyberspace following dwindling sales in recent years.

The website will feature old favourites Desperate Dan, Bananaman and Korky the Cat in new animated strips, with voice overs and sound effects.

Users will also be able to play interactive games, watch videos and create and care for their very own virtual pet, the Dandy Dollop.

'Naive venture'

David Bain, the comic's head of digital development said: "The Dandy is alive and well, and it's going to continue as usual it's just as of next week it's going to be available online on a regular basis, with all the famous characters and scripts and storylines and humour, as well as games, goodies and interactivity.

"It's all about fun, humour and a bit of mischief, a bit of pranking.

"We've been quite deliberate in making sure there's very little if any educational value, with the exception of reading."

Ellis Watson, chief executive of DC Thomson said: "I appreciate it's almost a deliberately naive venture into the unknown for a publisher that's been cutting down trees for 75 years, squishing them flat and smearing ink all over them.

image captionThe first edition of The Dandy will be reprinted in the final edition

"We're not super slick, we're not Silicon Valley, but what we are is some pretty talented animators and story tellers that are really excited about seeing if we can introduce these wonderful characters to another couple of generations."

Mr Ellis said he hoped that the comic would continue to attract adults who read The Dandy throughout their childhood, saying: "I'm still quite happy to sit on the train with my Financial Times reading my comics inside."

Throughout its 75 years, The Dandy's artists and writers have always strived to keep the comic's characters and plotlines relevant.

During World War II, Desperate Dan used his peashooter to bring down German aircraft and sink U-boats.

A strip called Addie and Hermy - the Nasty Nazis was a satire on Hitler and Goering.

And there was an outcry from fans in 1997 when Desperate Dan was supposedly to be retired after heading off into the sunset with the Spice Girls - although DC Thomson later admitted the storyline had been a publicity stunt to generate attention for its 60th anniversary.

Dan caused more controversy when he gave up eating cow pies during the BSE outbreak, and a revamp two years ago saw some traditional characters replaced by celebrities including Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole.

A bronze statue of long-standing cover star Desperate Dan stands in Dundee city centre alongside Minnie the Minx, from The Dandy's sister title The Beano.

A book celebrating 75 years of The Dandy was launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August and the comic will also feature in exhibitions at the National Library of Scotland and the Cartoon Museum.

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