Desperate Dan

Real Name: Daniel ?

Identity/Class: Unknown - possibly mutant as others in his family have the same abilities.

Occupation: Adventurer, sometimes sheriff, former outlaw

Affiliations: Dawg (his pet dog), Little Bear (girlfriend), Zeke

Enemies: Dangerous Dan McGroo, Cactus Man, Dankenstein, Baron Blankenstein, Kid Kong;
(rivals, rather than enemies) The Beanotown Gang, Bananaman

Known Relatives: Danny (nephew), Katey (niece), Aggie (aunt), Grandma (grandmother), Grandpappy (grandfather), Great-great Grandpappy (ancestor), Dan (uncle), Danabelle (great aunt); Tightwad Tom, Puffing Pete, Desperate Dave, Fancy Dan, Onion Annie, Dan the Mite (ancestors), Desprit Jake (Stone Age caveman ancestor)

Aliases: Bananadan (used when he briefly gained Bananaman's powers), Superdan, Cow-Pie Man

Base of Operations: Cactusville, formerly Bad Man's Gulch

First Appearance: Dandy #1 (D.C.Thomson, 4th December 1937)

Powers/Abilities: Dan is extremely strong (he once won the World's Strongest Man Competition by lifting all his fellow competitors and the items they were lifting), and invulnerabile - he doesn't flinch when buildings are dropped on him, shaves using a blow torch (because razors break when he tries to use them) and blows up mines by attaching magnets to himself so they float into him and detonate, leaving him unharmed. On at least one occasion he sucks in a load of gas and then lights it as he breathes out, allowing him to blow out a prolonged jet of flame for long enough to bake a house sized loaf of bread. At least some of his strength is derived from the cow pies he eats.

History: Born into a long family line of superhumanly tough and strong individuals, Dan earned his nickname "Desperate" when he was a ne'er-do-well living near Bad Man's Gulch, always spoiling for a fight and throwing around his considerable weight. However, he soon calmed down, moving in with his Aunt Aggie in Cactusville. Though lacking the family's distinctive bulk and chin (maybe she's an aunt by marriage, rather than blood), she was the one person he was afraid of and who could keep him in line. Kept well fed with her massive cow pies, he became a reformed character, helping those in need and even fighting the Nazis during World War II. Though he rarely seeks out trouble since his reformation, trouble invariably finds him...and generally finds it has bitten off more than it can handle. His two most persistent and dangerous foes are Cactusman and Dangerous Dan, but he's also come to blows with Bananaman, who he sees as an interloper and challenger to his title as the toughest guy around.

Comments: Created by Dudley Watkins (artist) and Albert Barnes (editor and writer), the latter of whom also provided the inspiration for Dan's massive chin. Watkins was the strip's artist until he died suddenly from a heart attack in 1969. Barnes was still The Dandy's editor, and out of respect for Watkins, he declined to let any other artist take over the strip, instead running reprints of Watkins' earlier stories. A year after Barnes retired in 1982, the new editor finally commissioned new Desperate Dan strips, the first for fourteen years. One year later, in 1984, Desperate Dan took over the cover spot from Korky the Cat, who had held it since the first issue. Dan remained the cover star until 1999, when he was briefly replaced by Cuddles and Dimples, until a readers' poll saw him reclaim the front page a year later.

In 2001, a 2.5 metres (8 foot) tall bronze statue of Dan, accompanied by Dawg and stalked by Beano's Minnie the Minx, was erected in Dundee High Street, in recognition of his publisher, Dundee-based D.C. Thomson, and their contributions to the city.

Thanks to Alistair Goodman for providing details about relatives and enemies.

A homage to Dan appeared in the Zenith strip in 2000 A.D., when a Russian version calling himself Big Ben turned up.

Greg Ash informs me that "Dan has also been parodied in Viz. The strip was called "Desperately Unfunny Dan". In it, Dan did exactly the same sort of things he did every week in The Dandy. However, people were just fed up with him doing the same things all the time and Dan is frustrated because he isn't funny anymore. For example, Dan decides to bend all the street-lights to which a passer-by says "Christ Dan, not again. That's the third time this week". All ends well, when Dan manages to make all the customers in a Cafe laugh. This only happens though, because he has been tricked into eating not a Cow Pie, but a Cow-PAT pie."

When Dan disgraced himself by unintentionally helping bank robbers escape, he adopted the disguise of Cow-Pie Man to recapture the crooks and clear his name!

Dan and Bananaman don't always get along, but Dan has filled in for Bananaman on at least one occasion.

Dan's more memorable foes

Cactus Man

Dangerous Dan

Dankenstein and Baron Blankenstein, as they appeared on the cover (left) and actual story (right)

Dan's immediate family

Aunt Aggie



Dan and Katey

and ancestors/other relatives

Desprit Jake
Stone Age ancestor and dino hunter

Great-great Grandpappy
Rodeo star - as the bucking bronco!

Uncle Dan
Out hunting "bare"

Great-Aunt Danabelle, enemy spotting for the army

Puffing Pete, stopping an Indian War with his pipe

Tightwad Tom, unintentionally creating Cactusville Canyon

Desperate Dave, inventing the first public toilets

Fancy Dan, putting on Cactusville's only fashion show

Onion Annie, creating the Weeping Waters river

Dan the Mite, constructing Cactusville Library while playing with some blocks

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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