Dandy comics - a milquetoast relaunch?

What's this about a relaunch for the Dandy comics? I relished picking up Dandy and Beano as a child living overseas. The crude jokes, the true-to-life hooligans, ne'er-do-wells and braunnosers; characters that rang true to me. Sure, circulation is down - by about 1,900,000 copies. But what sort of changes are these? Smasher is gone, replaced by a kid with big sister problems? Desparate Dan has been slimmed down?

    ... he has no gun. His holster's still there, but it looks like one of those fabulously over-designed belt-worn mobile phone pouches that went in and out of fashion sometime in 1995.

Ugh. Dan sounds like a metrosexual. Or a European tourist. (As the Glasgow Daily Record sniped: "I'm Fancy Dan!" Or how about Leeds Today's "I'm not half the Dan I used to be..."?)

Of course DC Thomson, the publisher, swears that this new direction is informed by "in-depth research" designed to make Dandy more appealing to the essential 7 to 11 year-old reader demo. Unless that research was conducted in the schoolyard and behind the chip shop by other 9 year-olds, it's faulty.

Chances are, the survey team looked like this.

Chris Donald, former editor of Viz, an expired Dandy competitor, had a remarkably similar reaction. But he also noted that kids today have far grittier diversions to occupy their growing minds, the net being only one.

Nevertheless, the publisher is paying lip service to maintaining a rough edge in the comic.

"If we became politically correct, it would be the death of The Dandy. In fact we are gunning for political correctness," [an executive at DC Thomson] said of the comic that revels in naughtiness. "I would stick my tongue out and blow a big raspberry at anyone who suggests we are politically correct."

A raspberry? How 1955.

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