THE growing clamour among children for smartphones and tablet devices has triggered the move to turn The Dandy into a digital comic, its publishers have admitted.
Market research carried out with children as young as six helped develop the world’s first digitised children’s comic, which was launched online at midnight.
For 75 years what was to become Britain’s longest-running comic has been a fixture on the nation’s news-stands - but now Desperate Dan, Keyhole Kate, Bananaman and the Numbskulls are to disappear from the pages of The Dandy.
Instead, they will appear in new digital strips featuring animation and sound effects, while the site will also feature a host of interactive games, a “Dandy TV” show and even a joke shop. A free sample version is now available on the www.dandy.com website, which will go fully live next week.
A team of 20 scriptwriters, artists and animators have been working for several months on the project in a “secret room” at publisher DC Thomson’s offices in Dundee.
Several new characters have been specially created for the new weekly digital version, which will cost £1.49 per issue or an annual subscription of £30.
It emerged on Friday that Sir Paul McCartney is making a special appearance in a bumper final print edition of The Dandy, which is released later this week, with a price tag of £1.99.
The then Beatle had told the magazine NME in 1963 that his personal ambition was to appear in its pages.
Craig Ferguson, editor of the digital version of The Dandy, said: “The decision to wind up the print edition and launch the digital one were pretty much taken simultaneously.
“We are not saying the comic is dead with this move, but wanted to take advantage of innovations in new technology and the various formats that the children of today are well acquainted with and want to use.”
Craig Graham, the final editor of the print edition of The Dandy, who has taken over as editor of the Beano, said: “As a company we’ve been looking to do something like this for years. Even my generation is just as happy with pixels as paper these days’ and kids just love tablets nowadays, so this is a completely natural step for us.”
Mark Hunter, digital project manager, said local primary school pupils had been consulted about ideas for the digital version.
He added: “This is really only the beginning for the digital Dandy. We had around 14 weeks to get this off the ground, although we had obviously done a lot of digital research and development before the decision was take on The Dandy.
“We have so many different ideas we want to try out but we also want to see what works and what doesn’t and also what people have really liked, as we’ll be able to monitor what parts of the site are the most.
“The main stories have been designed to read like a traditional comic, with added motion animation and sound effects, and with the extra features like the games and puzzles, we think it will take the target audience between 10 and 20 minutes to read.”