Desperate Dan

Dan's Wild West origins were just the launching point for ever more outlandish adventures. For this reason, it also didn't matter that Dan's Cactusville home was clearly Dundee, complete with street-lamps, post boxes and steam rollers, as his adventures often took him off around the world. Each page could be a mini epic - indeed, each frame could be.
Sadly, as with other Watkins strips, Desperate Dan fares badly in terms of 'political correctness'. Racial sterotypes abound; Watkins seemed to have a particular fondness for Chinese mandarins, but Sikhs, Afro-Americans, Mexicans, Eskimos and various other nationalities, with greater or lesser justification for their presence, were constant fixtures.

Following Watkins' death in 1969, the Beano employed other artists to take over Lord Snooty and Biffo the Bear. Interestingly the Dandy, still under original editor Albert Barnes, apparently did not consider doing the same with Desperate Dan. From 1969 right through to 1982, Watkins' work lived on in the form of re-prints of earlier stories. The second Desperate Dan book was published in 1978, reprinting several long-running stories from the fifties.

When Barnes finally retired, incoming editor Maurice Heggie swiftly appointed a new artist, Watkins disciple Ken H Harrison. He has continued to draw the strip ever since, except for a year or two in the mid-late nineties when Bananaman creator John Geering had a try. This may have been an attempt to give the strip a more modern, action-packed style, but ifso it did not find favour, and Harrison was eventually reinstated.

At around this time, the strange decision was taken to render the dialogue in Desperate Dan in phonetic speech. This didn't look right at all and was eventually overturned by new editor ?? in 1998. Dan was also moved back inside the comic (replaced on the cover by Cuddles and Dimples).