Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A good day for British comics

The UK's two top comics both have key issues out today. The Beano has a bright new redesign and a smart new logo, while 2000AD celebrates 2000 issues with a bumper issue packed with the cream of comics. 
News of The Beano's relaunch broke last Sunday and now we can see the results. The comic is now simply 'Beano', finally losing "The" from the title, and has undergone a complete redesign. The new logo looks great, and the yellow background really makes it stand out on the crowded shelves. There's been some tweaks to the content too. Pup Parade has gone, along with all the mini-strips. The focus is now squarely on the main characters; Dennis and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger, The Bash Street Kids, etc. Every week there'll be an extra-long 8 page story. This week it's Dennis and Gnasher, with Minnie, Bash Street, and others to take their turns in future issues. (Similar to how TV Action did it in the 1970s.) Although I'm disappointed to no longer be a contributor to the comic I fully appreciate that it makes sense to big up the main characters for the relaunch and I wish it well.

(There has also been a big revamp of http://www.beano.com and some new strips appear there.)
I know some people were apprehensive about the revamp but the changes to Beano are mainly cosmetic and the content is still firmly focused on comic strips. The new-look comic is lively, fun, and should please readers young and old. I'm sure kids will love it, - if they can find it. The big test will be its availability to new potential readers and so far I haven't seen newsagents significantly increasing their orders. (Most shops I visited had none.) Either they weren't aware of the relaunch or they didn't care, and that's the big problem facing all publishers today. You can produce a brilliant comic but unless retailers choose to stock it, kids won't even know the comic exists. You can subscribe of course (http://www.beano.com/subscribe) but it would be good to see more newsagents stocking it to attract potential new readers.

2000AD is another comic that's not always easy to find in newsagents now. Luckily, comics speciality shops stock it so that helps. Prog 2000 is a stunning issue. 48 pages, plus a pull-out poster, and the return of some top talent to its pages including Brian Bolland, Kevin O'Neill, Carlos Ezquerra, Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon, Robin Smith, David Roach, and more. 
Judge Dredd teams up with Johnny Alpha, Nemesis the Warlock returns, and there's the start of a brand new series, Counterfeit Girl, by Peter Milligan and Rufus Dayglo. 
2000AD is the sole survivor of all the new comics that IPC launched in the 1970s. It was expected to fail by some (as had many of IPC's other comics) and it rubbed management up the wrong way, but it not only survived, it thrived, connecting with a fanbase like none of those other comics did. Now owned by Rebellion (who recently purchased the rights to those other old IPC comics) 2000AD still represents the best of British comics, and this landmark issue is a prime example of that. 

Beano No.3854. Published by D.C. Thomson. Out today, £2.50.

2000AD Prog 2000. Published by Rebellion. Out today, £3.99.


16 comments:

Brad Brooks said...

It's funny, Lew, but round here (Littlehampton in West Sussex), every shop I went to (WH Smiths, a newsagent and two supermarkets) had lots of copies of the new Beano, but no copies of 2000 AD. I did get a copy of 2000 AD, but only through my good friend (who's also an excellent cartoonist by the way) Flix, who visited a newsagent I didn't get to. Different areas having different ordering profiles maybe?

Lew Stringer said...

Most possibly, Brad. I checked Coventry city centre this morning. Smiths had increased their Beano orders from 2 to 5 copies but other newsagents had none. (I didn't check Sainsbury's so they might have some.) Smiths (and Forbidden Planet) had 2000AD, as did an independent newsagent.

Random Panda said...

I subscribed just in time to get one "old" Beano and then the shiny new one this morning. Like you say, it's mostly cosmetic as makeovers go and I was relieved to find the old crowd inside. The mini-strips seem to have shifted online and to the app (they also seem to be three panels instead of four), but it'll be a shame not to see Pup Parade. Does this mean Les Pretend has got the boot too? It's taken me about 20 years, but I quite like him now...

Olly MacNamee said...

In WHSmiths in Kings Heath 2000AD was behind the counter! You had to ask for it so the casual reader wouldn't have the chance to pick up a copy. Even porn mags are easier to get it would seem.Or so I'm told.

Peter Gray said...

I miss Pup Parade by you..
it was such a delightful strip..cute has a button..

I like the idea of the longer story..
nice title logos on strips..
Billy Whizz is a reprint so will be interesting who the next artist is..

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks folks. I'm drawing my last Pup Parade today, and it may be in the comic later next year or in the 2018 annual.

Olly, lots of Smiths branches are doing that now, along with all the Panini, Titan, and Commsndo comics. They claim it's to prevent theft. I don't believe there's a crime wave of kids across the country stealing comics from Smiths. I think it's censorship by stealth. The same way they put Oink out if the reach of kids 30 years ago.

Shane Chebsey said...

Putting kids comics behind the counter is ridiculous. It's really discouraging for kids to have to ask for stuff and it stops them browsing and picking up new titles.

If I was the publisher I'd be furious if I'd paid for prime shelf space.

Kids need full access to comics!

Gary Northfield said...

I think it's a shame if the Beano stop trying out new strips. Even back in its halcyon days the comic always had new strips coming and going. You wouldn't have Dennis The Menace or Bash Street Kids if they'd have stuck with the original strips! Let's see some gentle encouragement of risk taking and new faces.

Lew Stringer said...

I'm sure they will bring in new characters again at some point, Gary. They're just making sure their main characters are the focus for new readers I suppose.

Agreed, Shane. Publishers need to sort out what's going on with Smiths. They're aware of it but nothing is changing. Sales must be affected by the move.

John Davidson said...

I managed to get a hold of issue 1999 of 200AD yesterday in a WH Smiths in a train station and picked up issue 2000 today in a local McColls. Had no problem finding either of them. Maybe I was just lucky. First two issues I've ever bought and I'm considering maybe getting more.

The weird thing is though, my 2000AD cover is different than the one pictured on this blog. Mine has Judge Dredd sitting on a rock in the shape of "2000" saying "Think you can handle it, creeps?" and with a list of contributors down the side. It's also printed on a shinier paper than issue 1999 was.

Lew Stringer said...

There are three variant covers for issue 2000, John. The one you have, the one shown above, and a third that's only available from comic shops. The glossy cover stock is just for this week. Good to hear you're a new reader!

Anonymous said...

Haven't experienced this behind the counter malarkey myself- WH Smiths out here in the Scottish sticks (and larger Glasgow branches) usually display 2000ads and Beanos on the shelves. Maybe there's a different management policy north of the border or something?

Having said that, Smiths have always been a bit funny in this respect. I get the feeling they've never been that keen on comics.

Adam Pk

Paul McScotty Muir said...

Pannini comics are behind the counter in the W H Smith store in Hamilton (just outside Glasgow) and have been for some time now. They also recently consigned Titan comics and the Megazine there as well (some of the other Lanarkshire stores do similar) . Luckily the 3 Glasgow city centre stores still have them on display as normal. I also note the comics (and other mags) have now been taken away from their position up the side wall of the shop here (maybe it's UK wide) to where they used to be thank goodness

John Davidson said...

Yeah, it was Glasgow and Lanarkshire shops I was talking about. Was actually in Hamilton today but didn't get a chance to check out WHSmiths. I have seen the Panini stuff sitting behind the tills in the past but it's still on display. By the way others were talking I thought that maybe the 200ADs were hidden away under the tills. The very next day after release the Glasgow Central WHSmiths seemed to be out of stock already, unless they had some through the back, that's where I got issue 1999 the day before 2000 was out.

I've only sen that one cover so far in the places I've been in, though I think I prefer the one I got anyway.

Colin said...

Paul & John; thanks for this info. Whenever I'm in the Hamilton WHS I always look to see if they might finally be stocking the panini superhero comics, always in vain. I never thought to look behind the counter! Next time. (They still display 2000AD but amongst the rockpop mags, and never seem to have more than two copies)

Anonymous said...

Ah, the 'behind the counter' stuff makes sense now- not quite as outrageous as I first imagined. Thanks!

Adam Pk

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