The first issue, under the name The Dandy Comic, was published on 4 December 1937. It was published weekly until September 6th 1941, when wartime paper shortages forced it to switch to fortnightly, alternating with The Beano. It returned to its weekly schedule on 30 July 1949. From 17 July 1950, the magazine changed its name to just The Dandy.
After issue 3282 (October 16th 2004) The Dandy underwent a radical format change, reflecting a more television-oriented style, and now printed on glossy magazine paper instead of newsprint. In August 2007 (issue 3426), The Dandy had another update, becoming the fortnightly comic Dandy Xtreme. It cost £2.75 (with some issues costing up to £2.99 depending on how many gifts there were). It then reverted back to its original comics form, albeit retaining the more glossy paper, in November 2010 and cost £1.99 a week.
The print version of the comic ceased publication on its 75th anniversary in December 2012; an online version lasted just 13 issues before the comic ended for good in July 2013. However the The Dandy Annual will continue to be published for the foreseeable future.
The most popular characters to appear in The Dandy are Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat, Black Bob, Winker Watson, Bananaman, Cuddles and Dimples, Harry Hill, The Smasher, The Jocks and The Geordies, Bully Beef and Chips, Beryl the Peril, Brassneck and Keyhole Kate.
See The Beano, The Dandy's partner-in-mischief.
- Animated Adaptation:
- Art Evolution: The comic has incorporated more variation in the art styles of various strips in recent years, most noticeably using simple, super-cartoony art by people like Jamie Smart, which leads to some characters looking like Super-Deformed versions of their earlier selves. Desperate◊ Dan◊, for example.
- Hell, since the comic is such a Long Runner with so many characters (Korky, Dan, Keyhole Kate) dating right back to the beginning, it's inevitable that this is evident everywhere.
- Artifact Title: Desperate Dan was originally a desperado. His name has lost some meaning since then.
- Big Eater: Hungry Horace, Tom Tum, Plum Mac Duff, Greedy Pigg... that's at least four characters who have this as their entire gimmick. There's also Desperate Dan, who shows this in his love for massive Cow Piesnote .
- In fact, in both this comic and The Beano, almost all of the characters seem to crave large meals (often referred to as a "slap up feed"). Traditionally, such a "slap up feed" (often depicted as a massive pile of mashed potatoes with sausages sticking out of it, but sweets, pies and cakes are also popular) was the usual reward at the end of a strip if the characters won whatever contest or outsmarted whichever opponent appeared in the plot that week, and it still crops up today. There's a fascinating historical context to this: World War II happened early in the development of these comics, when rationing and hardship meant that the idea of being able to gorge on large meals or piles of sweets actually was something for the children reading the comics to dream of.
- Blatant Lies: The 2013 summer special was called The Last Ever Dandy Summer Special, it's release coming six months after the weekly comic's demise. However, The Dandy Summer Special 2014 would later appear. Last Ever? We don't think so!
- Boisterous Bruiser: Desperate Dan. In his early days, he was something of a Jerkass, but he's quietened down over the year.
- Canon Discontinuity: In December 2012, they launched a digital Dandy to replace the closed down print comic. It rebooted at the end of March 2013 because the original attempt had been littered with technical bugs, such as stories stretching beyond the frame making them un-navigable, and loading problems. Some stories were shuffled around in the re-released issues, for example, the Desperate Dan story originally in issue 1 is now in issue 2, because issue 1 used a new one.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Inverted: early on, it featured short stories (usually illustrated) as well as comics, and these tended to be serious and dramatic rather than humorous. They vanished over time to be replaced by Gag Series, but the new digital version promises to bring the drama back with a resurrection of ancient superhero character Mister X and a Nancy Drew-inspired take on Keyhole Kate.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: New favorite Kid Cops always ends in one of these.
- Cool Pet: Dan has an elephant at one point, and a fierce cat that may have been a baby leopard. Just for the hell of it.
- Comics Merger: Merged with Hoot and Nutty (original home of Bananaman).
- While it didn't merge with The Beano, Bananaman joined the comic even before Dandy breathed it's last (his merchandise was on the online Beano Shop), while Corporal Clott also transferred over in 2019. Most characters have been kept out of the Beano because of the continued existence of the Dandy Annual. The Annual is nowadays produced by the Beano editorial team.
- Deconstructive Parody: Early Hitler satire, Addie and Hermy.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Cuddles and Dimples were originally neighbours before they were changed into brothers.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Monkey Business.
- The Smasher looks really suspiciously similar to Dennis the Menace from supposed rival comic The Beano, even though his personality is different.
- Depending on who you ask, Hector Spectre is either an expy or a Spiritual Successor to an earlier character called Edd Chumley, who appeared in a strip called Meet Edd: He's A Ghost in The Beezer and Topper. Both strips involved headless ghosts in Elizabethan get-up with rural dialects and accompanied by a grey cat, both drawn by David Mostyn. The main difference was that Hector haunted a stately home, whereas Edd's home was said to have been long since demolished. It's likely that a different main character was created as Edd looked very much like a male version of Molly.
- Friend to All Children: Desperate Dan is always solving the neighbourhood kids' problems in ridiculous, over-the-top ways.
- Funny Animal: Korky the Cat is a classic example.
- Furry Confusion: Has happened to Korky on occasion◊.
- For a time, he lived next door to an annoying man named Mr Dagget, whose entire shtick was that he thought he was an ordinary cat who did ordinary cat things. All evidence to the contrary, of course, but this meant that events conspired to have Korky tangled in string or holding a pigeon, only for Dagget to walk in.
- Generation Xerox: Dan's family tend to be rather hale and hearty, as well as having an Uncanny Family Resemblance. This gets exceptionally disturbing when you meet Desperate Gran.
- Gentle Giant: Desperate Dan, which was the result of Characterization Marches On - in the early strip, he was a desperado (as his name implies) and willing to use violence. Nowadays, he's a much better-natured guy (although you do NOT want to make him mad).
- Ghost in the Machine and Mobile-Suit Human: The Numskulls, in the digital comic.
- Golden Age Super Hero: There's actually a 1940s superhero, The Amazing Mr X, who got brought back as part of the superhero team in digital strip Retro Active.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Many titles and character names can fall into this, though it often become Narm Charm.
- Nephewism: Dan had Katey and Danny, whilst Korky the Cat had The Kits: Nip, Lip and Rrrip. None of those nephews appear any more, even though both Dan and Korky remain in the comic.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Harry Hill has become The Dandy's newest cover star, even writing his own strip (the art duties are courtesy of a long-time Dandy artist). Compared to the other strips in The Dandy, most of which are very much with the times, Harry's strip seems a little more in keeping with the tradition of The Dandy of yore - and all the better for it.
- No Fourth Wall: As with The Beano, characters from The Dandy have been known to have a chat now and then with their writers and artists.
- In one Dandy Book, Dan's greatest enemies Dangerous Dan McGrew and Cactusman managed to hold the editor of The Dandy hostage, so that they would always win. Naturally, they didn't succeed and Dan managed to pull a few strings with the editor of The Beano. The last page of Dan's story showed the two baddies on the cover of the latest issue of The Beano, reduced to picking daisies, where a certain spiky-haired youth observed them from a distance...
- Power-Up Food: Aunt Aggie's cow pies do fall under this category somewhat.
- Played straight with Bananaman, who's normally a weedy schoolboy called Eric Wimp until he eats a banana and transforms.
- Race Lift: In the digital comic's story Retro Active, Kat has dark skin. She's actually a successor to Billy the Cat's former sidekick Katie, who is white.
- Rage Against the Author:
- Korky's strip in the final issue involves him going up to "The Dandy editor" (represented in this strip by a ginger cat) and asking why he never appears in the comic anymore, although it's really more of a whine than a rage. Also features a hilarious parody of We're Still Relevant, Dammit! when Korky is told he can only be a star again if he becomes "cool" with the addition of a robot arm, laser eye, face tattoo and skateboard.
- One Desperate Dan comic had the main artist of said comic off sick, requiring a replacement to be hired in the meantime. Unfortunately for Dan, Little Bear and the residents of Cactusville, the entire comic was redesigned with a bleak, Darker and Edgier style which no-one liked In-Universe. For example, the kindly, elderly mayor was made to look like a criminal. Desperate Dan and Little bear retaliate by stealing the new artist's brush and threatening him with it to coerce him into drawing like the usual artist. He complies.
- The Rival: Since The '80s, Desperate Dan and Bananaman have had an on-again, off-again (i.e. whenever the writer for either strip can't think of anything and needs to spin a story out for a few weeks) rivalries to see who's the Dandy's Strongest Man.
- Robot Maid: The premise of the Tin Lizzie strip, which appeared in the 1950s.
- Spoiled Brat: Molly. Who has doormat parents.
- Stubborn Hair: Desperate Dan is always depicted with very tough stubble which in extremis he can use to file or grind metal. He has to shave with a blowtorch and a sharpened spade when he needs to tidy up. One comic reveals it has the properties of steel wire. Magnetism and all.
- Suddenly Voiced: Desperate Dan in the digital title. Surprisingly NOT Bananaman, even though he once had a TV series.
- Take That!: The Beano and The Dandy have a friendly rivalry which often involves taking potshots at each other (e.g. characters being threatened with the possibility of getting sent to the other comic).
- Trademark Favorite Food: Desperate Dan and Cow Pies.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Cuddles and Dimples' parents after their 2004 redesign.
- We All Live in America: Desperate Dan is technically American, but the comic comes from a very British perspective.
- What If?: One Desperate Dan comic featured him making a major blunder by accidentally dumping the town's Christmas presents in the river, leaving him shunned and disgraced. Upset over this, Dan wishes that he wasn't even born. He's then shown an alternate reality where this is true, but it's absolutely worse. Aunt Aggie is lonely without any company, and the town itself is mostly destroyed and uninhabited due to Dan himself not existing to stop a great number of natural disasters which left Cactusville in ruins. Back in his own reality, Dan saves all the presents and the townsfolk forgive him.
- World's Strongest Man: Desperate Dan. One memorable strip (reproduced in the Beano and Dandy 50 Golden Years book) shows various exotic strongmen from countries all over the world competing, each of them lifting up huge weights, other people or even an elephant...only to reveal that Dan has tunnelled up from beneath and is holding up the podium, all the strongmen and everything they're lifting as well!
- Xylophones for Walking Bones: Eddie Potter had a strip where the titular character holds Pop Idol style talent show auditions at his school, which is populated by macabre creatures including werewolves and living skeletons. One of the acts involves a group of skeletons using their own bones as musical instruments.