Royal Mail’s latest stamp issue, Comics, marks the 75th birthday of The Dandy, Britain’s longest-running comic book.
Issued on March 20, the set celebrates 10 different comics by featuring a classic front cover alongside an iconic character in each case.

British comics emerged from weekly ‘story papers’ such as Boy’s Own and The Magnet. But when The Dandy was launched in 1937 it blazed a new trail, featuring rollicking comic strip adventures with the narrative provided by speech balloons rather than blocks of text.

The Beano followed seven months later, and the genre blossomed after World War II. Soon there was a comic for every taste, and by 1950, sales of The Dandy topped two million copies a week. From Royal Mail’s selection, however, only The Dandy, The Beano and 2000 AD are still on sale today.

Philip Parker of Royal Mail Stamps said: ‘Britain’s uniquely eccentric comics have brought cheer to generations of readers, and presented us with a cast of characters that remain with us throughout our lives.’
Designed by The Chase, the stamps were printed in litho by Cartor.

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH 
Typically British, these comics had a big impact on many of us in our youth

QUALITY OF DESIGN  
Combining a front page with a popular character makes for an attractive set

WOW FACTOR  
These colourful and lively stamps should get noticed more than most

 

1st class The Dandy & Desperate Dan
First published in December 1937, The Dandy is the world’s oldest continuously published comic. From the first issue, its star was Wild West hero Desperate Dan, the world’s toughest man, who shaved with a blowtorch and ate cow pies complete with the tails and horns.

1st class The Beano & Dennis the Menace
Launched in July 1938, The Beano remains the UK’s best-selling weekly comic. Dennis the Menace, the archetypal naughty schoolboy with his badly-behaved dog Gnasher, first appeared in 1951, and his fan club still has more than a million members.

1st class Eagle & Dan Dare
Released in 1950, Eagle was the first British science-fiction style comic, and one with a moral message. Its leading character was Dan Dare, pilot of the future, but its other speciality was educational cutaway diagrams of sophisticated machinery.

1st class The Topper & Beryl the Peril
The Topper ran from 1953 to 1990, when it merged with The Beezer. Mickey the Monkey was the original cover star, but it was Beryl the Peril, deliberately created as a female equivalent of Dennis the Menace, who emerged as the best-loved character.

1st class Tiger & Roy of the Rovers
Published from 1954 to 1985, Tiger mainly featured sporting comic strips. The best known was Roy of the Rovers, featuring Roy Race, the star footballer of Melchester Rovers, and it proved so popular it was spun-off into its own comic.

1st class Bunty & The Four Marys
In contrast to most other comics, Bunty, published from 1958 to 2001, was aimed at young girls. A strip that ran throughout its life was The Four Marys, about a group of teenagers at a girls’ boarding school.

1st class Buster & Buster
Buster, which ran from 1960 to 2000 and carried a mixture of humour and adventure strips, had a title character of the same name. Originally billed as the son of Andy Capp (the lead character in a Daily Mirror newspaper strip), he wore a similar flat cap.

1st class Valiant & The Steel Claw
A boys’ adventure comic which ran from 1962 to 1976, Valiant introduced The Steel Claw, a science-fiction strip about a scientist who could become invisible apart from his artificial hand. He used his powers initially for crime and later for good.

1st class Twinkle & Nurse Nancy
Twinkle, ‘the picture paper especially for little girls’, was published by DC Thomson from 1968 to 1999. One of its
most popular characters was Nurse Nancy, who ran a toy hospital with her grandfather, Mr Jingle.

1st class 2000 AD & Judge Dredd
A science fiction comic first published in 1977, 2000 AD is best-known for its Judge Dredd stories. Dredd is a law-enforcement officer in a city of the future, where uniformed judges combine the powers of police, judge and jury.

OTHER PRODUCTS
The presentation pack is written by comics expert Graham Kibble-White, and as ever a first day cover, first day cover envelope and stamp cards are available.

PRICES

Set of 10 stamps £4.60
Presentation pack £5.10
Stamp cards £4.50
First day envelope £0.30
First day cover £6.00
TOTAL £20.50