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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Dandy: Special Collector's Edition

I'm still waiting on a copy of Morris Heggie's 75th Anniversary book detailing the history of The DandyThe Art and History of The Dandy – so this magazine-format special, exclusive to W. H. Smith, is here to tide me over. It's a nostalgic roller-coaster ride through some of the most fondly remembered of the Dandy's heritage of strips and stories and wraps up with a reprint of the very first issue.

With the book readily available, there has been little attempt to cover the history of the comic again, so this is more of a pick 'n' mix selection. I'm not quite sure why the first few pages reprint strips from the first issue as they reappear again at the back of the book but I'm sure there are plenty of other pages that will please even the most jaded reader, whether you prefer slapstick humour or edge-of-the-seat adventure.

Now, I was not a Dandy reader when I was a kid, although I've seen plenty of issues since – I'm loath to say "since I grew up" because the jury's still out on that. My point is that while I don't have the same nostalgia for the strips that a former reader may have (and I suspect there won't be many who remember Addie and Hermy from their first appearances in the 1940s), I can still appreciate the talents that combined to create the strips and stories on display. Can you really go wrong when you have Ken Reid putting out top quality strips like "Big Head and Thick Head".

The only oddity of real note is that the reprint of the first issue doesn't reprint it in full. It has been reprinted on coarser paper which has been bound in with the glossier, 64-page front section. The original Dandy number one ran to 28 pages, whereas this version runs to only 24 – pages 16-17 (a text story entitled "The Brave Runaways") and pages 20-21 (jokes and three short strips) are missing.

There has been some speculation of censorship over on Lew Stringer's Blimey! blog, but the explanation (as the later comments suggest) is more likely to be down to the way the new version has been printed: the original from 1937 was probably printed as a 24 page inner plus 4 page "cover" as the front was printed in full colour (well, four colour). Most presses nowadays print colour and an additional four page section would have meant piecing together four elements – the cover, the front section, the 4-page section and the 24-page section – to create a cheap, nostalgic, magazine-format reprint book. The increased production costs would perhaps have raised the price to £6.99 rather than the £5.99 it set me back. And I don't regret a single penny.


Dr Andy Oliver said...

IT looks great but sadly I cant find it anywhere. Even the massive branch at Welwyn doesn't have it. I'll no doubt have to get it off a well known online auction site. That Ken Reid strip looks great though - can I ask are there any other examples of Reid's work in it?

Steve said...

Hi Andy,

There are two Big Head strips and four Bing-Bang Benny strips, but that accounts for only four pages in total.

Kid said...

I actually revealed news of this Special on my blog ( about a month ago - and followed up with the cover a week or so later. I'd suggest that Dr Andy tries the 'bookazine' section of his local WHS, as they don't always place these nostalgia titles in the comics shelves.

Dr Andy Oliver said...

Thanks Guys. Good tip re the bookazine - I'll try again. And 4 pages of Reidy goodness is more than worth it to me!