By Alessandra Prentice
LONDON (Reuters) - The writing may be on the wall for Britain's longest-running comic The Dandy - home to much-loved characters like cowboy Desperate Dan and Korky the Cat - after its publisher said it was considering retiring the magazine due to lackluster sales.
The Dandy sold more than 2 million copies a week in its 1950s heyday, but with children now more likely to watch television or play videogames, circulation is now below 8,000.
"We are carrying out a review of our magazines business to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing publishing industry," publisher DC Thomson said in a statement on Tuesday.
First published in 1937, The Dandy faced stiff competition from comic strip rival The Beano, but sales were hardest hit by the rise of TV entertainment for children.
"The Dandy wasn't as able to develop existing characters into characters kids could identify with," said Anita O'Brien, curator of London's Cartoon Museum.
"But most of all, comics had a challenge competing with television and computer games for kids' attention," she said.
Desperate Dan may not have eaten his last cow pie, however, as DC Thomson said the cartoon strongman will survive in a digital format.
"We're celebrating the fact that The Dandy has been in print for 75 years and we're doing a lot of planning to ensure that our brands and characters can live on in other platforms for future generations to enjoy," it said.
The Cartoon Museum is also planning to commemorate the magazine's long history with an exhibition in October, while a human-sized bronze statue of Desperate Dan stands in the Scottish city of Dundee, where the magazine is published.
"It's sad -- maybe not as much for the children these days, but there would be a lot of adults who would be sad to know that Desperate Dan's no longer around," O'Brien said.
(Reporting By Alessandra Prentice, editing by Paul Casciato)