Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thunderbirds Are Gone

Down the Tubes has reported today that, sadly, D.C. Thomson's Thunderbirds Are Go magazine has been cancelled. The title was launched in October 2015 with a massive push in supermarkets (my local Tesco had several shelves dedicated to the first issue) but unfortunately the latest issue is the last. 

You can read more about it on the Down the Tubes website here:
http://downthetubes.net/?p=35308  

18 comments:

ChanneZeroX said...

A shame, this was a nice looking magazine going by the covers, but from what I hear the transition from original drawn strip material to photograbbed repeats of the new series most likely put off its target audience. I wonder if an effective compromise might have been new CGI material specially comped (if that's the word)for the strip.

Manic Man said...

no major comment but.. what I've seen of the new series... I would stick with repeats of the old..

and I don't know but.. the main strip was just a comic version of the episodes.. so.. in this day in age of getting episodes on DVD (or tape or whatever), doing comic versions is a bit.. redundant.. and the use of screenshots compared to re-drawn is never a good move for professionals.. it was something I thought about for 'fan' stuff, but not really for something like this..

Lew Stringer said...

There'd be little point in reprinting the classic Thunderbirds material, Manic, as it'd only confuse the young readers due to all the differences. (Plus ITV allowed them the licence so they could promote the new series, not the old one.)

I agree about the strips though. There's little point in adapting episodes that kids already have on DVD. When I was the writer on CiTV Tellytots Magazine 16 years ago I chose to use screen grabs from different episodes of the shows to create new stories. It went down well with the readers and the TV people. Of course, the suits at ITV now would be different people who might not allow that.

CZX, the switch to illustrated strips, rather than screen grabs, were only a fairly recent thing, so I don't think it would have damaged sales. I think its failure is down to a number of factors, including the fact that it's a crowded marketplace and difficult to attract the right audience.

Manic Man said...

I wasn't meaning to reprint old stuff, just from what I've seen with pretty much every time they try to 'reboot a classic series for a new generation' with Gerry Anderson (and most other things) makes me just want to keep to the old.

but yes, it might confused little kiddies and i'm pretty sure the license wouldn't cover it.

ChanneZeroX said...

As an industry insider creatively, have you got your own ideas of what would make a succesful licenced comic that has yet to be tried, Lew?

Lew Stringer said...

I think they did a good job with the new TV series myself, Manic, from what I've seen of it. (I haven't watched all the episodes yet.) Season 2 looks even better with the bits I've seen.

CZX, well, I'd do a comic that treated readers with intelligence, like we did with Sonic the Comic. That turned out to be one of the most successful licenced comics of all, ran for several years, and is still fondly remembered today. The focus was on telling good stories with good art, and developing the characters. No filler material such as joke pages or activity stuff. Of course, that was the 1990s, and we live in different times now, with companies wanting comics to reflect the "brand" where everything has to be strictly on-model and is vetted by committee, so it might never be possible to achieve something like that again.

ChanneZeroX said...

I wonder if anyone would take the plunge again with a pure comics-only licensed title, if in the publisher was sufficiently convinced that material effectively reflected the brand. One think that surprises me is that recently I no longer see any Star Wars-related comics on newsagent shelves other than the Lego tie-ins.

Lew Stringer said...

Panini UK would love to do a Star Wars comic but they don't have the licence unfortunately.

I think one reason that Sonic the Comic succeeded was because at the time the games were fairly basic. The comic expanded Sonic's world and the characters. So I think the trick is to give the readers something extra like that, which the source material doesn't offer. That's harder to do in a comic now that games and movies are more visually spectacular.

Manic Man said...

For the sonic comic, I think so. while the games weren't that basic If you go into the full story (the Japanese manual stories are FULL of stuff that was simplified greatly for the western story) but yes, simple straight forward so you could give the readers an expanded world. You could also do comic versions of games which were fairly true to the game and both be 'cannon' (early Sonic the Comic stated that the first two games had happened but just weren't shown'. that works fine.. over time it got to a stage where it was clearly its own world and not in line with the games, but that's fine as long as it's seen and shown as such.

While i'm a big sonic fan, I loved it when STC had a range. Had stories about OTHER games too. when the comic became almost (and then 100% just sonic stories, I think it lost a lot.. It's the old Justice league problem (which was summed up ell in 66 with the great Inferior Five), you have a team where each one can save the day by themselves.. so why team up? At first, the Tails spin-off scripts were good. not saying they weren't good later but it got to a stage that Tails was such a hero in it's own right, why was he even teaming up with Sonic.. in fact, in some stories, they even point out that Sonic became a bit of a Figure head more then a hero.. which.. sometimes went a bit too far for my tastes.. anyway, the range helped.. I think that's one that that helped Century TV21. It wasn't a Thunderbirds comic, It wasn't a Captain Scarlet, or Joe 90, or Supercar, or Four Features Fall, it was a 'world of Gerry Anderson'.

Also, no intent to moan at writers and such but.. with the Sonic games, I think a Writer could get a quick sum-up/bible to know how to handle the characters. with some games and Tv shows today... you can't get away with it without kids moaning about how they weren't able to do it in Issue X but in Episode Y they did etc. I think the Transformers letters pages (UK of course) shows some of that happening in the 80s.. which was mostly dealt with as 'This is the real story, that's just a cartoon based on the real story'.. which was used a lot in the 80s...

Tom Beers said...

It's strange that Panini doesn't have the Star Wars rights, I thought it would be part of the deal they have with Marvel. So does that mean Egmont has exclusive rights to UK published SW comics? I know they print the Rebels strip in the kids magazine that will sadly likely never get reptinted as a TPB.

Lew Stringer said...

Star Wars is a separate licence to Marvel's own material. A few years ago, Titan did a Star Wars comic reprinting the Dark Horse material but I don't think it sold that well as it didn't last.

I don't know who has the rights in the UK now, apart from Egmont having the junior stuff as part of their Lego deal. (I still find it bizarre that Lego comics are a thing, and I used to write them!)

Lew Stringer said...

I used to write Lego Adventures that is, not Lego Star Wars.

Diego Jourdan P. said...

I worked on this mag with a colleague from the get go, up until issue 10 or so. Sales were pretty good throughout, but the license cost the company money, while ITV's super restrictive and overbearing approach made it almost impossible to innovate beyond its top notch graphic design. It's a pity, but fortunately DCT has plenty of other quality boys' mags worth buying every month.

Lew Stringer said...

Interesting, Diego. Thanks for commenting. It's a shame when mags have to be too beholden to the licence holder on design. A brand design that works for a toy pack or DVD doesn't necessarily work well on a magazine. I've noticed in recent years how much licensed mags have to stick to the iconography of the branding. It hadn't used to be like that on things like Transformers, Sonic, etc, and they looked better for it.

Tom Beers said...

The rights seem to be split between Egmont and Titan with Egmont publishing the Star Wars Rebels junior magazine with an original UK only (but still canon) strip and the Lego Star Wars magazine and Titan dealing with Star Wars Insider and the kids Jedi Master magazine. It really is bizarre how there hasn't been a proper US reprint magazine in the UK yet and how scattered the license is.

Diego Jourdan P. said...

True that, but for the past couple of decades there has been an explosion of licensing execs micromanaging the whole process... you would believe the stuff i've had to deal with in the past, like this guy from a toy company who didn't want any of the characters to ever turn its back on the reader (then again, the characters were supposed to be sitting around a campfire, toasting marshmallows), or the famous cartoon franchise that only allowed its main character to be drawn in one single POV, etc.etc. I've gotten revisions from these execs six months after the actual commission had already been paid for and published, and still expected me to make "corrections". I've been asked to amend certain objects i directly TRACED from a given style guide!
This is what happens when there's too many people playing boss (or trying to prove they're doing any work at all), and very few actually MAKING stuff with their hands.
I'm actually lucky, most of DCT titles deal with none of that nonsense, and UK cmics generally cater towards a real audience of boys and girls; but, it seems to me, American comics have completely lost their way in that respect.

James Spiring said...

That Star Wars situation is weird. Panini being the long term rights holder for Doctor Who (having got it by acquiring Marvel UK), didn't stop Titan from later acquiring a licence to reprint their US format titles. So why should Titan publishing Insider stop Panini from reprinting the Marvel Star Wars comics?

Lew Stringer said...

I guess the BBC are more flexible, James.

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