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Tuesday, 6 July, 1999, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Dandy is king of the comics
Cow-pie chomping Desperate Dan is the Dandy's biggest star
Desperate Dan and his friends will be celebrating with plenty of cow pie this week as the Dandy enters The Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest running comic.

The record-breaking 3007th issue will be out on 10 July and Desperate Dan will be headlining it for the very last time.

After that the superhuman cowboy from Cactusville, the only survivor from the comic's early days, will be relegated to the inside pages, making way for new stars such as Cuddles and Dimples.

But this special issue will take a nostalgic look back on more than 60 years of madcap antics starring the likes of Korky the Cat, Beryl the Peril, Keyhole Kate and other intrepid figures who have long since left the comic.

The record-breaking 3007th issue

The Dandy, which now sells for 50p, first hit the streets on 3 December 1937, six months before its sister comic The Beano.

By the 1980s, the Dandy was the world's largest selling comic in the world with a circulation of around 2 million.

Now it is down to 150,000, but still has a loyal enough following to outrun the previous longest-running comic, Comic Cuts, which ceased production in 1953 after 3006 issues.

Harmless fun

The late Albert Barnes, who edited the Dandy from 1937 to 1980, summed up its philosophy: "There is never any real violence, only the cartoon kind to be found in Tom and Jerry where the victim always springs back unharmed.

"It gives children a chance to cock a harmless snook at authority, and sublimate their desires to kick against the traces. Sex, religion and politics are, of course, out altogether."

Barnes was also behind Desperate Dan, who became the Dandy's biggest star.

Talking about his cowboy creation, Barnes said: "He is to be the roughest, toughest cowboy. He has to be the strongest man in the world: a man who can chew iron and spit rust.

Desperate Dan was never happier than when confronted by his daily diet of cow pie, a species of dish which involved the entire animal, including horns and tail, protruding through the pastry.

A leaner, cleaner Dan

But Desperate Dan was eventually stopped from eating his favourite dish because of mad cow disease.

The Dandy was the world's largest selling comic in its heyday
There was a similar crisis in 1997 when Desperate Dan sailed off with the Spice Girls after striking oil and temporarily retired from the pages of Dandy.

There was such an outcry, including a Bring Dan Back hotline campaign, threats of boycott, and protests from as far away as Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United States, that the hero was swiftly restored.

But even the devil-may-care pages of the Dandy have been unable to resist changing values.

Morris Heggie, the current editor, admits: "Desperate Dan is not now quite the same old desperado that he was. He is now quite laid-back in comparison with the old days.

"At one time he used to smoke a dustbin full of rubbish through a drainpipe. At other times he would smoke a whole shipload of tobacco via a funnel."

Now the Dandy can be assured of a permanent place in the record books, and one which is unlikely to be bettered.

"When you've been going for 68 years people assume that you must be dated, but it's like a long running soap opera. Some of the characters may be the same but we bring in storylines for today.

"What's important is that, unlike in real life, the kids always win in the Dandy. That's our recipe for anarchy."

See also:

02 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Not just a laughing matter
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