Wednesday, October 19, 2011
October gifts galore
Whilst adult collectors may hate them, the fact is that plastic toys attached to comics do attract the young demographic the titles are aimed at. Even though publishers charge an extra pound or so for "gift" issues these days, those are the issues that sell better than the ones without gifts. It's not a situation that's likely to change anytime soon.
Some of the questions this policy raises though is that although gift issues may attract extra readers in the short term, will they be loyal enough to stick with the comic? And will the higher price put off regular readers who were loyal? When one looks at the bigger picture, will comics lose more readers than they gain?
It's a tough call. As recent circulation figures showed, when The Dandy and The Beano had a run of several weeks without gifts, at a lower price, the average sales figures dropped! Seems that kids of the 21st Century expect comics to come complete with a toy or three. It's now seen as part of the whole package, and a comic without a gift is somehow considered incomplete by some children and their parents. Yet the cost of the toy (and especially if the comic/toy is bagged) pushes the unit cost up, resulting in higher cover prices, which undoubtedly does put off some buyers. It's far from a perfect situation, but what can be done?
However, I can't believe that today's kids are so disinterested in the content of the comics that the toy is the only attraction. From feedback (letters and drawings) received from readers we do know that many kids do still enjoy the strips (and judging by many photos submitted to readers' pages have shown, many kids do save their comics). This week, The Dandy has three gifts; a jumping spider, fake fangs, and a pull-out Tin-Tin 2012 calendar. Inside, the comic is packed with new material from Nigel Parkinson, Jamie Smart, Wayne Thomson, Andy Fanton, Karl Dixon and more, including Postman Prat written by David Mason and drawn by me...
Over in today's Beano there's a Sneakypult gift and cut-out skeleton and bats, plus new artwork by Barrie Appleby, Ken Harrison, Barry Gelennard, Nik Brennan, Dave Sutherland, Hunt Emerson, Laura Howell, Nigel Parkinson and Dave Eastbury.
In the latest Toxic there's a whole bunch of gifts, including this board game I supplied the artwork for...
...plus strips by various creators including Anthony Williams, Stik, and myself.
Incidentally, regarding the sales figures of The Dandy, Alexander Hay has written an excellent article on the subject here: http://www.olderiswiser.com/articles/save-the-dandy
There's been a lot of comment spouted about the comic in recent months, ranging considerably from constructive criticism to gutter-level abuse of the artists themselves, but Alexander's article is one of the most intelligent and level-headed opinions I've read on the matter so far.