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Friday, 17 August 2012

The Dandy's digital move: media reaction

Desperate Dan
© DC Thomson

The news of The Dandy's move to digital publication has prompted a huge flurry of news stories across various news media outlets.

While most simply parrotted the official announcement made by DC Thomson about their plans (some playing up claims from the company that they have locked down the title's official web site for fear of it being hacked, which frankly, sounds like complete cobblers), some newspapers chose to do a bit more research into the state of the British comic industry, and their stories make for interesting reading.

The Daily Mail not only reported that the title would be going online but also went to the effort of getting a video interview with the Cartoon Museum's Anita O' Brien, who talked about the general malaise for comics on the UK News stand - but also had an chance to promote The Phoenix, reportedly enjoying news stand sales of 9,000 despite limited high street and supermarket distribution

 
The Economist, in a feature titled "Not So Dandy" notes most children's magazines are taking a hit because of the recession. "It seems when parents' incomes are squeezed, less money is spent on them. But the decline in British comics goes back farther than the present downturn. The Beano's circulation was a 'six-figure' number in 2003.

"The reason might have something to do with social media and TV," the magazine suggestes, "which kids spend more of their leisure time attached to these days. TV tie-in magazines like Simpsons Comics, with a circulation of 52,000, are proving more popular than antiquated comics like the Beano. Moshi Monsters, a magazine based on the eponymous social network where youngsters can raise virtual pets, has a circulation of 228,000."

Moreover, the magazine points out, there are more rivals now than there were a decade ago, citing examples such as Doctor Who Adventures magazine (which at its height had a circulation of 155,000), Moshi Monsters and Pokemon World.

"... To their credit, both comics have the same number of pages dedicated to cartoons as they had a decade ago," says the Economist. "They have retained some of the same artists. But the tone is noticeably different. The Dandy talks of farts, toilets, and "doofus" parents, and has two strips whose central characters are chavs and bogeys respectively. But the comic still raises a good chuckle or two. The quality of the cartoons has not declined, in this writer's opinion."

The Financial Times chose to run a more general piece on the problems facing comics publishers on both sides of the Atlantic in": A Serious Turn for Comics"
"Behind The Dandy’s decline... lie broader lessons about the challenges of keeping up with children’s fickle tastes," the newspaper suggests, "the speed at which new digital choices are changing consumer behaviour and the need to manage brands across different platforms."

As rumours about the comic's fate continued, some papers conjectured a transfer for the titrle's main character to rival comic The Beano.  The Daily Record claims today that Dandy favourite Desperate Dan is in transfer talks with Beano, and "looks set to take new direction.

"The end of the printed version of the Dandy means the end of an era for generations of children," the paper notes. "Its loss was summed up last night by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. He said: “I have fond childhood memories of reading the Dandy and it’s a shame future generations won’t be able to enjoy the printed edition.

“But I’m pleased that the publishers have confirmed the Dandy will live on online.”


The last print Dandy will be published on 4th December 4th - an 75th anniversary edition, which will include a facsimile of the very first issue.

"I can confirm that this will be our last print edition," said DC Thomson's Chief Executive Ellis Watson. "It's what comes online then that will set the tone for the next 75 years. Dan has certainly not eaten his last cow pie.

"All of The Dandy's characters are just 110 days away from a new lease of life."

The Dandy Annual will continue to be printed, and that branded products such as mugs will continue to be produced.

The last officially audited circulation for the Dandy was 7,489 weekly sales on average in the last six months of 2011. It is priced at £1.99. DC Thomson launched a Dandy iPhone and iPad app in November last year, priced at £1.49.




 

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