Not long to go now before October's launch of Strip Magazine No.1, the brand new British adventure comic from Print Media Productions. If you want a taster (and in these comic-starved times who wouldn't?) you can read an online copy of issue zero for free at the Strip Magazine website here:
The preview is just 16 pages but the actual issue one will feature a mammoth 68 pages in full colour for £2.99. Editor John Freeman has just announced that for the first few months Strip Magazine will only be available through direct sale outlets (UK comic shops, not newsagents). "We still plan to widen our sales to the UK high street in 2012," says John, "effectively 're-launching' the title after its initial tranche of content draws to a close".
Readers who were looking forward to buying the comic from their corner shop this year may be a little disappointed with this news but if you ask your nearest comic specialist shop (such as Nostalgia & Comics, Forbidden Planet, Gosh! etc) to order you a copy now you won't miss out when Strip Magazine launches in October. Please don't wait and think "Oh I'll buy it next year when my newsagent has it". The comic needs your initial support for it to grow.
"We see this as an opportunity to 'test bed' the title, in a similar way to partwork publishers who roll out test magazines in a key region to see if the project appeals" says John Freeman.
Make no mistake about it, launching a new British comic today is a brave move and not an easy path to take. There is resistance and apathy from the UK retail trade to any comic that isn't tied into some merchandised fad, and even if the comic is accepted there are huge fees to pay just to get it on the shelves, and no guarantee that the shops will actually display it correctly (or even the right way up).
Some people may use their blogs and forums to berate UK publishers for not putting out more non-licensed comics but talk is cheap. Sure, small press comics can thrive, and many of them feature excellent work on a par with mainstream comics, but to make a comic profitable in this day and age, to earn its creators a living, isn't easy. Shame on the hecklers who think it is.
Strip Magazine is exactly the kind of comic that fans of British adventure strips have been asking for, so I hope each and every one of them supports it. The strips feature top notch talent (John McCrea, PJ Holden, Ferg Handley, Kev Hopgood, and John Ridgway to name but a few), solidly told tales that aren't "mature readers" sex/gorefests, and a variety of stories. Think Lion or Valiant but with a modern twist.
For more details on the comic and to keep up with developments bookmark the Strip Magazine website:
A new hardcover graphic novel Mirabilis is out now from Print Media and I'll be reviewing it here shortly. (Short review for now: It's fantastic. Buy it!)