First ever appearance of Desperate Dan added to national collections
The National Library of Scotland has filled a crucial gap in its collection of 'The Dandy' weekly comics following the acquisition of the first-ever copy.
'The Dandy Comic' was first published in December 1937, costing two pennies for 28 pages. It was an instant success, selling more than 480,000 copies.
General Collections Curator Ian Scott, said:
'In many ways, it was the first modern British comic, and should be of great interest to anyone researching popular literature. Today, it is estimated there are only around 20 copies of the first edition known to be in existence. Which makes this copy one of the rarest items in the Library's collections.
'We were pleased to add this rare first edition to our holdings — ensuring its preservation for future generations. We're actively filling the gaps in our holdings of British comics and annuals. They tell us so much about the social mores of the time.'
However, significant gaps of 'The Dandy' in the national collections remain, particularly from 1937 — when the first 'Dandy' was published — up until the 1970s.
Mr Scott adds:
'We appeal to anyone who may have pre-1970 editions of 'The Dandy' — or indeed its sister publication, 'Beano' — to consider adding them to the national collections.'
The first edition of 'The Dandy Comic' was published on 4 December 1937. It was edited by then 25-year-old Albert Barnes, who remained as editor until he retired 45 years later in 1982. He had a large chin, which led many to speculate that his was the inspiration for Desperate Dan's jawline.
As well as the character Desperate Dan, which was illustrated by Dudley D Watkins, 'The Dandy' featured Korky the Cat and Keyhole Kate. It was the first time most readers had ever seen dialogue contained in speech bubbles — up until then, dialogue was mostly found in the text below the illustrations in British comics. Watkins' illustrative work on 'The Dandy', 'Beano', 'Oor Wullie' and 'The Broons' was deemed of such importance to public morale that he was excused war service, but still served as a Reserve Police Constable in Fife during the Second World War.
The Library holds complete sets of 'The Dandy' and 'Beano' annuals, which are perennially popular Christmas gifts. Anyone can view these, and early editions of the comics, at the Library's reading rooms.
See also related news story.
20 January 2020