INTERVIEW: The Dandy artist and writer Jamie Smart

Following the recent news that the print version of The Dandy will cease this December, and our feature on the digital future of comics, we got in touch with one of the artists who has contributed to the popular children's comic for almost a decade....

Jamie Smart

Jamie Smart

Jamie Smart

Jamie Smart is a British comic artist and writer, most famous for his 10-issue comic series, Bear. Over the past ten years, he's worked for clients including The Dandy, The Sunday Times, The DFC, The Cartoon Network and the BBC, and character-designed for Disney.

Having written and drawn for The Dandy for the best part of a decade, we spoke to him about the recent news to cease the comic's print edition. Here's what he had to say...

The way forward

"I've worked for The Dandy for nearly 10 years, and in that time I've produced hundreds of pages of comics. It's been an absolute joy, and I've grown an immense pride in being part of it all.

"When they announced the print version of The Dandy was to end, and move into digital instead, like many others I was instinctively sad about it. I noticed a great wave of support for the comic people had grown up with, and were sad to be losing.

It's hard to compete on the newsstands with licensed TV spin-off magazines

"Digital is, of course, the way forward, and that most dwindling of commercially selling artforms (at least in this country) we call 'comics' must naturally follow suit.

"It's hard to sell on the newstands with original, funny cartoons when you're up against spin-off licensed character magazines, all riding off the back of TV shows. That's the kind of advertising you just can't buy, and the struggle to compete was never going to have a great outcome for our national treasures like The Dandy.

Going digital

"It'll be very interesting to see what happens when The Dandy goes online, what precisely that will involve, and how it will be funded. Online artistic endeavours are of course notoriously difficult to earn money from, since everyone wants everything for free.

"Advertising, downloads and the like can all earn revenue, but it needs to be handled creatively to actually work out. Web comic artists struggle with this all the time, only a tiny tiny percentage get it right and make enough to live off.

© DC Thompson Ltd

© DC Thompson Ltd

"I think, while digital is inevitable, it shouldn't necessarily be viewed as the only option for the future of comics. It should be considered a medium, like all other mediums. Incredibly versatile, attractive and user-friendly, but still a medium, and able to co-exist with other mediums like traditional print.

The print comeback

"I have high hopes printed comics will make a storming comeback, not instead of online, but as well as, being integrated as one big, many-armed entity. Each form of the comic should support the other.

I have high hopes printed comics will make a storming comeback

"People still enjoy holding a physical comic in their hands, there's still a duty to pay more attention to something tangeable. But over the next five years i think we'll see the landscape of comics really blow open, and the internet be used in such creative and diverse ways as to really give comics the shot in the arm it needs here in the UK.

"To ignite a passion in children to read and make their own, to reach as many people as possible, and I'm very excited about where it might all take us."

© DC Thompson Ltd

© DC Thompson Ltd

What are your thoughts on The Dandy going digital? Let us know in the comments box below...

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