Friday, February 28, 2014
Promoting the OINK! launch to the retail trade in 1986
Here's how the launch of Oink! comic was promoted in the pages of retailer's magazine CTN, March 21st 1986. IPC's Youth Group managing editor John Sanders explained how the company was paying £55,000 to publicize the new comic. That was nearly 30 years ago. It'd cost far more to launch a comic today, and the market is weaker now, which goes some way to explaining why publishers don't just throw out more comics as some people think they should.
Even back in 1986 the comics industry wasn't that stable. The article reveals: "During the past five years sales of youth titles have dropped by more than half". This was during a period when UK comics featured a strong stable of top quality artists and writers, with publications being reasonably priced. Yet children were still drifting away, which suggests that it wasn't so much the content that was putting them off but rather the distraction of other media and activities.
John Sanders himself said "We must accept the fact that comics have not been for a long time the first leisure role that will attract children. That role belongs to television, but we can still compete if we change our direction".
Sadly, Oink! only lasted for two and a half years, and a change of direction the company would later take would lead to the kind of magazines bagged with toys that dominate the shelves today. A few, such as Toxic, still feature several comics pages, but many do not. In which case we should respect the late lamented Dandy for reviving its comic format in its last few years, and The Beano and The Phoenix for sticking with content that is all-comics.
Click on the article above to enlarge it to read. My own personal recollections about being invited to contribute to Oink! in its early stages can be seen on my other blog here: