Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Angry Birds fly into newsagents

Today, Egmont UK launch a new monthly title, - Angry Birds Magazine, based on the hugely popular video game. Priced at £3.99 the first issue promises "puzzles, games and quizzes". From the advert shown here, there's originated comic strip in there too.

Angry Birds Magazine comes bagged with two posters, trading cards, a special game code, and a plastic slingshot. 

While it's good to see another publication for children on the stands, it's once again another sign of the times that it's based on a licensed brand with an emphasis on activities rather than enriching the imaginations of children with stories. I should point out though that writer Cavan Scott does say there is a narrative going through the magazine, so ABM isn't like other feature-based mags.

There have always been comics based on other media of course, from Film Fun to Sonic the Comic, but in those titles it was the stories that were the selling point. Activity pages are important for stimulating the logical parts of a child's mind of course, but a comic strip story can help children with their reading abilities and engross them in world where they can relate to the characters, and even learn about morality and integrity in a fun way. 

It's good to see that Angry Birds Magazine contains some story content at least, but wouldn't it be great to see more of a balance like this in most children's magazines? A lot of kids struggle with their reading at school these days because they see it as a chore, but reading is the most important skill a child can learn. Comics can help with that because they're bright, lively, funny and exciting. So, publishers, let's see more strip content in your magazines to help those kids develop into bright, lively, funny and exciting adults. 


Phil Boyce said...

When Titan brought out the modern day Transformers comic there was a huge hoopla around it thanks to the longevity and success of Marvel UK's original run. I bought the first two years of Titan's and it had bags of potential. It had three strips, coming to a total of about 22 pages every month, including new British material and then the movie prequel/sequel from America and the Beast Wars strip too. None of them spoke down to the kids and this was great to see. But the rest of the comic (edited by former Marvel UK colourist Steve White) was just awful filler, such as activity pages, video game reviews, supposed character profiles... each page was just full of images taken from the movies with as little text as possible. The features sat at real odds with the comic strip. After two years though they reduced the page count, dropped the two American strips and then just had 10 pages of British strip which which suddenly really did seem childishly written. Such a shame! They could've followed the ideas behind the original comic and made a real difference, using such a strong and popular brand to get kids reading again, but even though the first 24 issues had good meaty strips, the rest of these issues, and then ultimately the whole comic from #25 roughly onwards, was a mess.

Lew Stringer said...

To be fair to Steve White, he was an editor at Marvel UK in the 1980s as well as a colourist, so he's had years of experience. I'm sure he'd have loved to include more strips in Titan's Transformers but those decisions are based on the allocated budget for the mags, which isn't up to editors.

Colin Jones said...

If comics were actually used in schools as part of the learning process it might do a lot to take away the chore of learning to read. Of course the educational establishment would be mortified at kids using comics to learn to read as they are determined to make reading boring it seems.

Phil Boyce said...

Didn't know he was an editor back then, I just assumed he'd successfully worked his way up since then. I don't think the new comic needed more strips, but the other features could've had more content to them. For example the character profiles were a small paragraph and lots of movie stills, when it could've included a lot of info, easily gleaned from the films, IDW comics or Hasbro's toys. Not saying that's the exact way they should've been, but the rest of the comic had a real rushed feel to it and apart from the great strips the rest was just the inconsequential padding most modern comics are unfortunately made of. The strips were a great thing and it's shame the rest just felt cobbled together, As I think it could've really helped get kids reading again.

Lew Stringer said...

British comics are mostly aimed at a younger average than they used to be, so that may account for the modern Transformers comic feeling less substantial in content.

Take Doctor Who Adventures magazine for example. Far less sophisticated than its 1979 version or 1971s Countdown comic because it's aimed at a younger reader.

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