Here it goes again - the scanning's complete so things can get back to normal without any strange green women standing around. Less than a week to go until the Dandy dies, sort of. Look at it a number of ways...
-Some might say that it's NOT dead, because it's carrying on in a digital form (this doesn't count).
-Some are counting the current issue as the last one (due to next week's "official" last ever issue being a bumper celebration/funeral sort of affair, this week's being the last of the standard format ones).
-Then there's the folk who believe that the Dandy died whenever "their version" of it ceased to exist (that's me!).
For me, that "version" would be the one that ended in October 2004, just before it turned into something that was less a comic, more a magazine-with-occasional-comic-strips (and then THAT would morph into that hideously unmentionable incarnation). So really, and I'm certain I'm not alone in saying this, but the REAL "last ever" Dandy looked like this:
And it was catastrophic reinvention after reinvention after reinvention following this issue, leading us to the sad state we find the Dandy in today (for those late to the party, Lee James Turnock sums it all up hilariously). And it IS depressing, and depressing things aren't fun to write about. Instead, we'll be looking at where the Dandy all started for me on a personal level, back in the Summer of 1992 in a now-defunct newsagents...
Yep, we're looking at the 1992 Dandy Summer Special!
We begin, as used to be the case with all comics, by flipping over to the back cover to see what goes on with Dan's "Desperate-sized" mountain bike:
And what follows are my first encounters with a whole heap of classic characters and brilliant artists - obviously impressing (and fun!) enough to keep me interested for the next twenty years (and obviously beyond, there's a LOT of back issues to go through).
Here's Bully Beef & Chips by Jimmy Hughes:
David Mostyn's Molly:
(Thoughts as a 6-year-old: "What's Torremolinos and how's it prounounced?")
Robert Nixon's Korky the Cat:
Spotted Dick by... Ron Spencer? Looks a tiny bit like Ron Spencer's, but I'm not certain. Not claiming to be an expert here, by the way.
Next is Dinah Mo, and again I'm not certain who it's by. Steve Bright, perhaps? Any help'd be appreciated:
Sid Burgon's Keyhole Kate is up next:
In case it's not apparent by now, the running theme of this particular Summer Special is "hobbies" - most of the Dandy Summer Specials throughout the Nineties based all its stories loosely around the one thing (1993's being my favourite, but that's one for another day).
Here's Desperate Dan's second appearance in the comic - the first page looking like a Ken Harrison, with the next two pages looking more like David Parkins, although I could be wrong (and probably am!):
John Geering's Bananaman's next up, a character I was already familiar with due to his cartoons (voiced by the Goodies!):
My first ever encounter with Barrie Appleby here, with Cuddle & Dimples. I'm not too keen on Barrie's current stuff, but as a nipper, these ugly children were my absoulte favourites - which would make Appleby the creator of my idols. Good for him!
Trevor Metcalfe now with Growing Paynes, a character I always enjoyed reading but hardly ever found entertaining (if that makes sense?):
The amazing Jim Petrie's next with Billy Green & His Sister Jean, two characters I never saw outside of Summer Specials and annuals:
Terry Bave's Winker Watson is a character I initially hated, but he grew on me over the years (especially the multi-part stories). The reprints of these are what I enjoy most in the current Dandy, which shows that Winker has longevity at least:
Looking back on all the Dandy comics I've read over the years, Brian Walker's version of Smasher stands out as a favourite - here's my first meeting with the accident-prone scally, breaking the fourth wall as he's interviewed by "Jerry Hogan":
More from Mr. Appleby now, with Granny - not as entertaining a character as Cuddles & Dimples, but it's all about the background jokes, here concerning a curious crab who ends up being booted off the beach by a nasty little starfish:
Another one from Ken Harrison now, with an oddity of a strip called Golden Old Days. Reading it in 1992, it seemed cosy enough yet also out-of-place amongst everything else I'd just read. Still, at least it's nicely drawn:
And now the highlight - my very first encounter with Tom Paterson, with Hyde & Shriek. Everything changed after this one - every haunted house I drew after reading this would feature a crumbling tower and a caged beast (like the ones seen on the strip's title), and every dark patch would become inhabited with eyeballs. The little details really make it too - the favourite here being the trail of mushrooms that sprouts up behind Shriek. Paterson's signature smelly sock even has an "origin" of sorts here, as it flies off Shriek's foot in the panel before the main appearance.
And finally, there's this bingo-card jobbie - holidays used to be filled with precisely these sort of things, and they still are if you keep your eyes open for them:
So I only joined the Dandy party when it was fifty-five years old, that's fine. It was only a year-and-a-bit after this initial introduction when I got my first Dandy Beano hardback book, which introduced me to what I'd been missing out on. The same can happen with the few hundred kids who'll be upset when their favourite comic finishes next week - only they'll have a whole seventy-five years worth of fun to catch up on. I envy them, a tiny bit.