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Desperate Dan is back! Rare first-ever Dandy annual to go under the hammer

PUBLISHED: 10:38 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:55 04 April 2019

Daniel Smith of Keys Auctioneers book department with the 1939 Dandy Annual. This rare first-edition sold at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham. Picture: NEWMAN ASSOCIATES PR

Daniel Smith of Keys Auctioneers book department with the 1939 Dandy Annual. This rare first-edition sold at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham. Picture: NEWMAN ASSOCIATES PR

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It was one of the world's longest-running comics and its characters such as Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat brought laughter and adventure into the lives of generations of youngsters.

A spread featuring 'Keyhole Kate' and 'Desperate Dan' from the 1939 Dandy Annual. The rare first-edition sold for £1,250 when it went under the hammer at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham. Picture: NEWMAN ASSOCIATES PRA spread featuring 'Keyhole Kate' and 'Desperate Dan' from the 1939 Dandy Annual. The rare first-edition sold for £1,250 when it went under the hammer at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham. Picture: NEWMAN ASSOCIATES PR

And now a rare copy of the first ever Dandy annual is to go under the hammer at a two-day book sale, and is expected to fetch up to £1,500.

The 1939 Dandy Monster Comic is the first of 81 Dandy annuals published, and appeared less than a year after the comic was first published on December 4, 1937.

The annual features many characters which would go on to be household comic names including Desperate Dan and Korky, as well as a raft of others such as Smarty Grandpa, Hungry Horace, Freddy the Fearless Fly and Keyhole Kate.

It was published late in 1938 with a cover price of 2/6 (2 shillings 6 pence) - equal to about £4.90 in today’s money.

The front cover of the 1939 Dandy Annual. This rare first-edition sold at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham. Picture: NEWMAN ASSOCIATES PRThe front cover of the 1939 Dandy Annual. This rare first-edition sold at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham. Picture: NEWMAN ASSOCIATES PR

The annual is expected to attract collectors from far and wide when it goes up for sale at Alysham’s Keys Fine Art Auctioneers book sale on April 11-12.

In August last year, the same auction house sold a copy of the first ever Beano annual from 1940 for £2,700, twice its pre-sale estimate.

Keys’ head of books Andrew Lindsay-Bullock said: “Along with The Beano, The Dandy is the archetypal kids’ comic, and in fact it pre-dates its stablemate by about a year.

“It is very rare to see a copy of the first ever Dandy annual, especially in such good condition, and we are expecting a lot of interest from collectors from right across the UK and beyond.”

Desperate Dan from The Dandy. Image: DC THOMSONDesperate Dan from The Dandy. Image: DC THOMSON

The Dandy continued until December 2012 in printed form, and then for another six months online, before being discontinued by publisher DC Thomson – although annuals and occasional summer specials continue to be published.

The sale also includes a number of rare first editions, including a 1831 first illustrated edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and a 1972 first edition of Richard Adams’ Watership Down.

The Dandy annual will be auctioned on the first day of the sale both at the venue and online at www.the-saleroom.com. For more information, visit www.keysauctions.co.uk.

Top 10 facts about The Dandy

Korky the Cat in a strip from The Dandy in the 1950s. Image: DC THOMSONKorky the Cat in a strip from The Dandy in the 1950s. Image: DC THOMSON

1. The Dandy was first published in December 1937, costing 2d – including a free whistle.

2. The comic was the first to used speech bubbles rather than captions under each frame.

3. The editor of The Dandy from its inception right up until 1982 was Albert Barnes, whose chin was said to the inspiration for Desperate Dan’s chisel-jawed good looks.

4. The longest-running strips in the comic were Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat, both of which appeared in the very first edition.

Cuddles and Dimples, from The Dandy. Image: DC THOMSONCuddles and Dimples, from The Dandy. Image: DC THOMSON

5. The strip Bananaman was added to the comic in 1985, after the declining Nutty comic was merged with The Dandy.

6. Thanks to The Dandy and The Beano, Dundee, home of publisher DC Thomson, became known as the comic capital of Britain.

A statue of Desperate Dan was installed in the city’s High Street in 2001.

7. In 2012 The Dandy featured on a set of stamps issued by the Royal Mail to celebrate Britain’s rich comic book heritage.

8. Sales of The Dandy peaked at over two million in the 1950s; by the time the print version was discontinued in 2012, the circulation had fallen to just 7,489.

9. A total of 3,610 editions of The Dandy comic were published in the 75 years from its launch until its final print edition.

10. A copy of the first ever edition of the comic sold for more than £20,000 in 2014 - the highest price ever paid for a British comic at auction.

Some classic Dandy characters

Desperate Dan - This hugely popular desperado from the Wild West become the Dandy’s mascot. He was known as the world’s strongest man, able to lift a cow with one hand.

Korky the Cat - The feline who thought he was a human appeared on The Dandy’s front cover virtually continuously for 47 years, from 1937 to 1984.

Cuddles and Dimples - The toddler twins who caused trouble wherever they went first appeared in 1986 and were on the front page for more than a year until they “got thrown out for misbehaving”.

Bananaman - A parody of traditional superhero characters, this caped banana nut originally appeared in the comic Nutty and was a late addition to The Dandy, only appearing after it had gone online in 2012.

Black Bob - A border collie from the Scottish Borders, Bob joined the Dandy in 1944. The canine tried to bring the truant nephew of his owner, shepherd Andrew Glenn, back to school.

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