Longest-running UK comic book 'The Dandy' may end

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By SYLVIA HUI, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Britain's longest-running comic book is facing closure after 75 years in print.

The publisher of "The Dandy" said Tuesday it is reviewing all of its magazine titles to meet the "challenges of the rapidly changing publishing industry."

Circulation of the weekly comic book, first published in 1937 and best-known for cartoon cowboy Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat, dropped to less than 7,500 in the second half of last year. At its peak in 1950 it sold some 2 million copies.

Scotland-based DC Thomson stressed it has yet to decide on the future of "The Dandy," but will ensure all of its characters live on in other platforms — hinting that their adventures may soon be available only online.

"There are many challenges within the industry at present, but we're excited that the digital revolution has also given us an opportunity to innovate and develop," the publisher said in a statement.

"The Dandy" chronicles the adventures of Desperate Dan, a strong, big-hearted cowboy with a weakness for "cow pies," or enormous meat pies with horns sticking out of them.

When "The Dandy" first went on sale, it cost 2 pence, and it became so successful its publisher launched a similar comic strip, "The Beano," within months.

Anita O'Brien, curator of London's Cartoon Museum, said at its launch "The Dandy" offered its young readers something new: more action and more visual material than contemporary magazines.

"A lot of the publications in Britain would have been what you'd call boy's story papers — mostly text with a few illustrations," she said. "It was new in having a lot of funny strips, it was very brash and slapstick in its comedy."

But "The Dandy" fell behind the times and many news agents have not stocked it for years, O'Brien said. A re-launch of the publication as "Dandy Xtreme" in 2007 did not halt its decline.

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Online: "The Dandy" is at http://www.dandy.com/

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