Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Support UK comics!

There's often a bit of negativity on the 'net about the British comics industry and how things were so much better in the old days. Well, the same could be said about the UK film industry, or its television output, or its music, or car industries.... You get the point. Yes, lots of things were more popular and plentiful years ago but that's no excuse to ignore what's happening now. We live in the present, not the past, so let's celebrate what we have, not run it down or dismiss it. Being snarky about comics does no one any good. You're not keen on some modern comics? Okay, then focus on the current ones you do like and tell people about those, to do something to support the industry. (Same applies to fans of US comics by the way.) 

Truth is, there's still a lot of good comics material being produced in Britain, from mainstream and independent publishers as I covered here a few weeks ago. The evidence is out there but that doesn't seem to stop the moaning minnies claiming otherwise. I can appreciate that people have a preference for the comics of their youth. We all feel that, but time moves on, and there's no more likelihood of something like Valiant returning than there is of Ally Sloper's Half Holiday making a comeback. The future of British comics is in the hands of existing professionals and fresh new talent. 

Anyway, I for one am pleased that British comics are still around, which leads me to a cheeky plug for the latest issue of Toxic magazine, out today. Yes, it's a magazine, but it does feature some comic strips, including my regular two pages of Team Toxic. This issue they go underground to discover the Troll Town and encounter a giant robot ant (see image above). This is what I've always loved about my 32 years in British comics; the pure daftness of what we can put into our stories. Long may it continue! 

Toxic magazine is published by Egmont and is available in newsagents and supermarkets. 

21 comments:

paddykool said...

You are right , of course, Lew. most of us are stuck in a nostalgic past with our comics.That's possibly because we don't keep up with the new ones as we get older and because most of the new "adult" ones are marketed in specialist comic shops they are not always easily available to many of us.I get anything new i might read about by post...usually from ebay or Amazon.it is another world for us old guys compared to what power comics had when we were younger.Those colourful piles of rattling great stories crowding out the newsagents .As you say, the film industry and the music industry had that same power over the imagination back then but good work continues to be done even though the glory days are gone.

Lew Stringer said...

My nearest comic shop is a fair few miles away, and not very well stocked, so what I do is look for any official previews online, then if any take my interest I buy them from any comic shop that has an eBay store. I've just ordered issue 3 of Titan's 'Surface Tension' this morning. It'll probably be here by Saturday. Easier than trudging around the shops.

Yes, there were definitely more UK comics available back then, and it was marvellous to have such a wide choice, but we can have the best of both worlds: keep the nostalgia by all means, but enjoy what's around now as well.

cartoon pictures said...

Stuff that matters is what we are getting now, the quality and most importantly the storyline, they seem to be not as impressive as they were before.... i actually do miss the old day, but then again the times have changed and people are looking for something else...

ChanneZeroX said...

Cartoon pictures- do you have some examples of how new material widely available all over the web doesn't generally hold up to older comics?

John Pitt said...

The trouble is, even if the shelves were full to the brim with comics, as in the GLORIOUS 50's go 80's, they simply wouldn't sell anywhere near enough to be profitable. Kids and teenagers of today want different thiings. Falling sales has led to the gradual decline in the number of UK titles. Unfortunately you cannot turn back the clock. Still, thank goodness there are those you posted about still going and the annuals/ specials.
There is life left in old Blighty yet!

Lew Stringer said...

I think we have to look beyond newsagents and supermarkets. These days those places are only interested in stocking known 'brands'. A new comic hasn't a chance. They're not interested in stocking anything unrelated to toys, TV shows, films etc.

Perhaps publishers should try other outlets, such as toy shops and game stores; places where kids actually enjoy visiting. Or focus on titles for older readers and get them into comic shops like Titan Comics do.

Book shops are another alternative. Kids today have not developed the habit of buying weekly comics so publishers could focus on self contained graphic novels instead. That's already been happening of course.

Phil Boyce said...

A few years ago I started buying my nephew the Thomas the Tank Engine comic as he was obsessed with it. However after about five issues he pulled me aside (bless him, he was only about seven years of age at the time) and told me he thought I'd bought him enough. He just didn't understand these came out every fortnight and he could collect them. He didn't understand what a comic really was.

But anyway, I'm fully behind you here on this one Lew. As I've mentioned before all the entertainment industries have evolved and changed (look at how iTunes changed both where we bought music and how - individual songs for example) and the comics one is no different. It's thriving but you have to look in the right places and know it's over various formats now. It's simply changed, it's evolving and goodness knows how it'll continue to do so in the future.

Lew Stringer said...

That's a very interesting story, Phil, about how we discover that comics are periodicals. I can't remember adjusting to it when I started reading them. The week I started school, my mum started buying me The Dandy, and I think I just accepted it came out every Monday, perhaps because back then it contained lots of teasers for 'next week'.

Yes, there are still a lot of comics being bought. They're not dead yet, despite claims to the contrary from some people.

John Pitt said...

I'm going to turn this on its head now and make the statement, "THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY BRITISH COMICS PUBLISHED THESE DAYS! "
"WHAT?" I hear everyone scream!
Yes , far too many for my pockets!
There are SO many that I simply cannot afford to buy the all. IF I bought every Panini, DC Titan, every DW, 2000ad,JD, Viz, Beano, Commando, Toxic and all the comic-related partworks, etc. (which I would LIKE to do!), just how much would that cost me every month?
Anyway, I can't, so there is no need for me to complain about the quantity of British comic titles available nowadays!

Lew Stringer said...

Controversial! :) You make a good point though John, that today's comics are relatively expensive. Sadly, that's partly due to unit costs being higher due to smaller print runs, and also because retailers/distributors charge so much to stock them. Even reducing the paper quality (as some have suggested) would make little difference unfortunately. (Take Viz for example: mostly black and white on matt paper but still £3.20 an issue.)

Steve Marchant said...

Pubs! I've recently been selling simple b&w photocopied comics, cobbled together from old work, on the bar at my local - 3 issues so far, and I've sold about 20 of each. The pub's fine with it, as I spend all the money on beer anyway. What's nice is that most folks round my way aren't big comic fans and had never seen my stuff (and trying to get them to subscribe to Aces is a non-starter) so I've gained some new fans and friends. And a hangover.
Plenty of people have to kill time in a pub waiting for friends, or just play with their phone if drinking alone, and I've found in my corner of south London they'll happily fork out for a cheap comic to while away the time.

Steve Marchant said...

PS: I charge a quid for a 12-page A5 comic (which I print at work while no-one's looking)...

Lew Stringer said...

Sounds good, Steve. That's how Viz started and it didn't do them any harm.

I don't think it'd work around here though. The clientele of pubs in cities is a bit more accepting of stuff like that than small town mentalities unfortunately.

The Essence of Reality Is Wonderrous To Behold said...

I wish I could share your optimism. I went into my nearest W.H.S. today and was confronted by a wall of plassy bagged kiddie mags but no comics. Alright, some comics, Beano, Spider-Man (reprint), but nothing else. Comics in this country don't exist anymore except for one or two hangers on.

Lew Stringer said...

At the risk of repeating myself, we need to look beyond newsagents to find most UK comics now. Check out the graphic novel sections of bookshops, or comic stores that offer a good selection other than superheroes, or see the wealth of UK comics available at comic cons in this country for example.

You've mis-spelled wondrous by the way.

Tony Howson said...

Well said Lew. It's easy to be nostalgic about the comics of our youth but if I'm brutally honest I never bought most of them.

I liked TV21 (infrequently), adored the Odhams titles and had a passive interest in Countdown/TV Action (mainly fueled by a love of Dr Who and John Burns art). A few years later I started getting 2000AD and that continues to this day. In all practical terms I'm probably getting as many UK comics as I was 40 years ago.

Yeah, things are changing. I don't like 21st Century Disney Marvel anywhere near as much as I did the Lee / Kirby material that Odhams reprinted. DC lost me years ago and their British reprints are meh! at best. But, just like music and football, the things I love about comics survive at the grass roots. There'll always be a Will Eisner, a Dave Sim, a Bryan Talbot, a Tony Benyon or, Gawd preserve us, a Lew Stringer, working hard to bring their vision to life.

Having said that, are you ever going to collect the Brickman strips that appeared in Elephantmen? I'd rather give the money to you than Comixology.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Tony. Yes, agree with your comments there and your comic preferences. I tended to drift from one comic to another in the sixties but I did follow the Odhams comics for most of their runs. Have all of them now though, apart from a few gaps in my Wham! collection.

As for those Brickman strips, you must have read my mind. I'm currently getting quotes from printers. Watch this space!

Anonymous said...

Good post as ever Lew; yes I freely admit to living in the past: I read endless vintage comics ,----- however I looked through this weeks' BEANO yesterday and I will look through it again. I would never dismiss it outright.

It is not just 'new comics' I do not read, I have never seen modern TV at home for about a dozen years [through choice] ---the only 'TV' I see is a vintage Thorson Avengers front-projected at home [over a beer] every Saturday night! I also prefer older music, like old comics ,there is more than enough old stuff to keep me going--today's access to vintage entertainment [dvd/comics/cds ] means it is easier than ever just to wallow in the past----

---now I agree with you this is not always a healthy outlook, however I reckon there was a lot of astonishing comics material around in the 50s-early 70s especially: todays' improvements are more in the field of advanced digital colour and digital manipulation which has endless applications.

The astonishing stuff seen today is more in the field of technology applied to comics I reckon.


Rab

Lew Stringer said...

That's fair enough, Rab. I still enjoy a lot of vintage material too; either re-reading old comics, buying 1930s to 1950s comics on eBay, or buying those great books on 1950s horror comics that Yoe Books publish. The sort of opinions I object to are those who either slag off modern comics for not being like they were decades ago, or who claim there is no UK comics industry when clearly there is. (Not as healthy as it was 50 years ago admittedly, but certainly not "dead in the water" as one book put it.)

benpeter johnson said...

This has been a fascinating blogpost and comments page folks! I would never had read it if it wasn't recomended to me by The Oink! Blog so thanks there!
I produce an online comic and have done for a while now. I don't get all that many 'hits' but I have had visitors from all over the world and through the power of emails and comments I have met many wierd and wonderful new friends. I have never really advertised the site at all, aside from printing a few stickers but I do get people visiting everyday (sometimes in single figures!) and i'm pretty sure some of them regularly return. I don't quite know where to go next but I have a desire to knock out some free paper mini comics with information and the web address printed on the back. I might then try leaving them at games, record, comic shops and pubs round Bristol. I don't know, what d'yer think?

Lew Stringer said...

Sounds like a good idea to me, Ben!

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