Sunday, October 04, 2015

Comics in shops

Photograph © John Freeman 2015
I'm sure that everyone with an interest in British comics news regularly checks out the Down the Tubes blog? If not, hop over there today where John Freeman has posted a very interesting account of the current British comics scene in shops. The shelves may be stacked with comic mags bagged with toys, and they're not as cheap as they used to be, but there's a reason for it. See the article here:

To illustrate his point, John has taken several photos of the shop displays, such as the one above. Admittedly some of those titles don't feature comic strips, but some do, (such as Angry Birds Magazine, Toxic, Epic, etc). They might not be in the 'traditional' style that some older fans prefer, and they're certainly not as many as there used to be, but it's still evidence that the UK comics industry is still around despite continued claims to the contrary from some corners of the Internet. 

Anyway, take a look at John's article and I'm sure he'd appreciate you leaving a comment or two over on his blog. (Or here instead, if the mood grabs you.)


benpeter johnson said...

I was surprised to read that 2000ad wasnt on the shelf mentioned in the article. I thought they were everywhere! Ive had a go at reading the american mags like marvel now! And Batman but i just feel that the stories go on and on and are too interconnected, it's like trying to watch a film half way through. I think it's actualy better to buy the american originals in packs or graphic novel collections. I do like bottled episodes where the story is wrapped up in one issue, and at over 20 pages per mag, you can achieve that without sacrificing pace and story development. Trying to turn an american comic with one story into a british comic with little episodes doesn't work for me. I do approve of 2000ad starting serials at the same time and I think they have a canny knack of presenting short episodes. I would like to see more one off comics with just one story per issue generally, like short graphic novels. I think the public would go for it and it would attract casual browsers who dont want to commit to a series. I used to love the Beano librarys as a kid. And specials and annuals, principally because the stories inside where bottled and not sagas.

Lew Stringer said...

Marvel do occasionally have self contained stories but mainly the stories run to about 5 or 6 episodes specifically so that they can be collected into a graphic novel. Often the books are where they make the money, so I can't see episodic comics ending anytime soon. Yes, complete comics might attract casual buyers but that's not what companies want. They want the readers to become addicted to the continuity and plots, just like soap fans.

benpeter johnson said...

I just think it inhibits the art form. You can capture the essence of a feeling or send a messege out there in a few pages, it doesnt have to be a long epic. Think how good the Future Shocks stories were. People still talk about them in awe! And they were what 5-6 pages at most. Comics use fantasy to tell great truths and to communicate with people. The great thing about comics is that writers and illustraters use the limitations of the format to their advantage. Capping stories at one issue is a limitation that could produce great work.

Manic Man said...

nice article. Though a couple of things I still wonder about which aren't answered..

Did the Market really change so much as to need bags? Free gifts have been staples in UK comics for years and years.. early days we have the simple pull-out posters, we also have flat attachments like 'mini-comics', 'thunder snappers' etc, then we have tapped on bag of sweets, belt clip, plastic gun etc.

Okay, some comics are having more and more BUT do we get more thieves these days to NEED Bags.. too much, I do see (and probably make the mistake myself) that Free Gifts MEANS Bagged comic.

Also, and this is kinda something I've said about before in a way.. Comic-Magazines count as Comics.. Fair enough, no problem with that. old Comics often had articles, written stories, games and puzzles (2000AD did at one point, so did Eagle and a whole bunch more).. but where is the line? Picking up what's near me, has the Eagle Annual 3, circ 1953. It has WAY more non-comic pages then comic pages. While we seam to have less comics on the shelve these days then before (though it can be debated because there seams to be a much wider circulation then before.. As I can remember, even in the 90s, some comics being hard to find in my local area because not every supermarket of equal size had a simpler range) do we in fact have less Comic pages? Or to be more to the point, in terms of ratios. Modern annuals are what.. 50 pages? been a few years.. where as older ones where up to the 200 page mark. but are more of them 50 pages used for Comics, Comic Strips, and Comic panels (Marmaduke, Healthcliff and the American Dennis the Menace have been called Comic strips for years even though they only had the old 1 panel with text format). Since, as I have commented on a little while back, magazines like QuizKids had the odd comic strip and the puzzles formed part of the narrative, much like some older comic strips (which I'm afraid I can't name of the top of my head.. sorry) have done?

It's.. pretty interesting really.. What IS a Comic? can we talk about something which we so loosely define.. When people talk about a 'Golden age' when there favour comic was 100% comic strips, did that Period really exist?

Lew Stringer said...

Manic, that's a fair point. Things like Look-In carried a lot of feature pages but it was still regarded as a comic. However, Look and Learn, which only had a few strip pages, was always classed as a magazine.

Benpeter, I take your point, although serials do hook the reader to come back for more. It sounds like you might like Haunted Horror, an American comic reprinting the short complete horror strips of the 1950s. It's published by IDW / Yoe Comics and is great in my opinion.

Richard Williams said...

I, too, used to think 2000AD was everywhere but that is definitely not the case. Only 1 newsagent stocks it in my area and you'll have to drive 20 miles to the nearest WMSmith to see more copies. A recent change in wharehouse retailers resulted in Prog 1948 not being delivered and I had to get a copy on ebay. The newsagent tried to re-order but never received any copies of that edition even though normal service has now resumed (minus Prog 1948 that is!). I managed to get the new Dr Who Comic from Titan at my local tescos which was placed next to all the younger readers' comics for a few weeks before being moved to a different aisle on a higher shelf next to Empire & Kerrang! Yet the Marvel Panini editions & DC ones still remain on the bottom shelves. My newsagent stocks all the marvel Panini editions but no DC ones which proves which characters are the most popular I suppose (probably due to the movies no doubt!).

Lew Stringer said...

Titan's Doctor Who Comic is supposed to be shelved next to Empire, SFX, Doctor Who Magazine, the Panini comics etc but so many shops just see the word "comic" and put it with the junior titles.

Good to hear your newsagent has the Panini comics. My corner shop stocks some but not all of them. I have to go into town for the rest. Yes, the Marvel brand has helped I think. It'll be interesting to see how well Titan's new Flash and Green Arrow comics sell when they're launched later this month.

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