LONDON (Reuters) - One of the world's longest running children's comics, The Dandy, goes digital-only in December, meaning a physical farewell to much-loved characters like cowboy Desperate Dan, who dates back to the start of publication 75 years ago.
Sales of the British weekly cartoon comic have plummeted in recent years from more than two million copies in its 1950s heyday to less than 7,500 last year, mainly because of competition from television and videogames.
Ellis Watson, chief executive officer of publishing for DC Thomson, said on Thursday he was "livid" about a leak of The Dandy's fate, and had taken down the publication's web address in order to stop people attempting to hack into the site.
But Watson sought to put a positive spin on plans to take Desperate Dan and his fellow cartoon characters into the internet age.
"Dan has certainly not eaten his last cow pie," he said in a statement. "All of The Dandy's characters are just 110 days away from a new lease of life."
A special 75th anniversary edition will come out on December 4.
"And now that the cat's out of the bag, I can confirm that this will be our last print edition. It's what comes online then that will set the tone for the next 75 years and that's why I'm so livid these plans nearly leaked."
The Dandy Annual will continue to be printed and the 2013 annual is already on the shelves.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White; editing by Patricia REaney)