The Dandy issue 3426, 2 August – 15 August 2007, DC Thomson, 16 pages of comics out of 36, £1.99
Features: Jak & Todd; Captain Hookless, The Nice Pirate; Ollie Fliptrik; Red Hot Chilli Dogs, Snip 'n' Snap; Smasher, The Boy Blunder; Blubba and the Bear; Bananaman; Agent Dog 2-Zero; Cuddles & Dimples, The Terrible Toddlers; Desperate Dan
So this is the big relaunch: frequency halved, comics content halved, price up a third. It’s simplest to carry on calling this The Dandy, as the indicia do, though the masthead may possibly now read The Dandy Xtreme (or it could say “The Dandy - Xtreme New Look!”, it’s too muddled to be sure). The comics material is now a 16-page pullout section in the middle, called The Dandy Comix and confusingly labelled “No. 1”, though the publication as a whole retains the old numbering.
The appropriation of the old underground spelling of Comix doesn’t signal any great change in the comic strip content, which is much the same in style as recent issues of the old comic. The most noticeable difference is the absence of the revamped version of Desperate Dan, itself a much-ballyhooed element of the last relaunch. Instead, there is a reprint of a vintage episode by Dudley Watkins, whose premise – a meat shortage – is probably incomprehensible to young readers, and whose art style seems antithetical to the simplification, exaggeration and sugared-up hyperactivity of the rest of the comic, which reach a peak with the incoherent narrative and panel sequences of Agent Dog 2-Zero.
Though, having said that, the whole thing seems oddly old fashioned. Words like “Xtreme”, phrases like “Eat my goal!”, Ollie Fliptrik and his skateboard vocabulary (“totally tubular”) are surely dated by now. Where are the Wiis and PS3s? The mobile phones? The annoying trainers with wheels built in? (Smasher has in-line roller blades. How passé!) If The Dandy had to be revamped because kids are "too busy gaming, surfing the net or watching TV, movies and DVDs" to find time to read a comic, why are none of the characters featured in these strips doing any of these things? Surely, this is the world of 1993, not 2007?
Some of the plots and jokes are even older, of course. Sadly, so is the sexual stereotyping. Here are the Mum and Dad from Jak & Todd, for example.
Since neither Beryl the Peril nor Class Act appear this issue, none of the strips has a girl as a protagonist (unless either Cuddles or Dimples is a girl - does anyone know?).
I wasn’t going to comment on the magazine section, but one thing in it did disgust me. No, not the emphasis on farts and shit, but a section called “Kangaroo Court”. This features a reader’s accusation that his sister has BO – complete with her name, the county where she lives and her photograph. How shameful and irresponsible of the editors to publicly humiliate a child like that.
Update, 7 August Lew Stringer has produced a handy round up of reactions to the relaunch (as well as his own, considered thoughts). I've expanded this review a bit since joining in the discussion in the comments section of Lew's blog.